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Chevy Volt MPG: Shocking!

Tue, 11 Aug 2009

I love the Internet. Specifically, the comments sections on big stories like the Chevy Volt. And it is the same on every site: The first two comments are fairly sensible and actually relate to whatever the story is, then everybody just starts eating each other's young and blaming the government for everything.

So it is with the news today that the Volt will get “at least 230 miles per gallon,” according to General Motors.

No matter how you slice and dice and tear into that number, it's impressive. GM will get a lot of play out of the announcement.

Question: Is it true? That's where the Web commenting fun begins. Let me try to help you chill out and stop torturing each other.

I'll grant that the Volt's mileage is tricky to figure out. I mean, in theory, since the Volt runs up to 40 miles on electric power before the engine kicks in, some drivers could burn NO gas. Ever. So their miles per gallon would be potentially unlimited. On the other hand your commute could be 80 miles each way and the Volt's gasoline engine will have to run for 40 of those miles. Obviously the EPA mpg number would be completely different. See what I mean? It's muddy.

That's why the Environmental Protection Agency is developing a method for rating plug-in hybrids such as the Volt. Until that's developed, we won't know the exact number. Still, according to Henderson, the Volt will be the first mass-produced car with a triple-digit rating. The EPA says it hasn't yet tested the Volt so it won't comment on the number.

So let's say the EPA finishes developing its measuring method and the Volt doesn't do 230 mpg. Let's say it only does, oh I don't know, 180 mpg. Or 120 mpg. Or 90. That's still damned impressive in my opinion, still far and away better than anything else on the market right now wearing a $40,000 price tag.

GM says it considers the Volt an electric vehicle. Using off-peak electric rates of 5 cents per kilowatt hour, Henderson said a 40-mile charge will cost 40 cents.

As for the actual mileage, we just don't know exactly what the EPA number will be. Until then, I look at today's GM announcement as just one more step toward getting some remarkable technology in to consumers' hands. And grabbing some headlines.

Even Internet forum commenters can agree on that being a good thing.

By Wes Raynal