Eat My Electricity, Prius!

chevy-volt

The Chevy Volt gets what MPG rating?

Richard S. Chang at NYT:

General Motors announced on Tuesday morning that its Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car had delivered a fuel-economy rating of 230 miles a gallon — which sounds outrageous. With that kind of gas mileage, you could practically drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a single gallon of gas, or for around three bucks.

But, of course, you wouldn’t be able to do that. G.M. said the 230 number is only for city driving, and it’s not based on the same measurement standard used to calculate the fuel economy of gas-engine or hybrid cars.

Matt Burns at Crunch Gear:

Take a look at the current high-mileage kings and that 230 MPG rating really sinks in. The EPA handed the Prius a 51 MPG city ranking and the Insight a 41 MPG. The EPA says that the Ford Fusion hybrid can get 41 in the city and the Camary Hybrid 40 MPG in the city. With hyper-mileage tactics like killing the engine to coast down hills and fancy pedal work, a few obsessed drivers have pushed a few of these cars into triple digit territory.

None of these cars of course benefit from a battery pack that can power the car exclusively for 40 miles, though. The only real competitor to the Chevy Volt is the Fisker Karma as it’s fundamentally the same powertrain design but the EPA hasn’t had a go with that EV yet.  There is the Tesla Model S too, but that vehicle is limited by the range of a battery pack and doesn’t have an on-board gasoline generator like the Volt and the Karma and therefore will not be ranked under the same guidelines.

Sebastian Blanco at Autobloggreen:

Frank Weber, vehicle chief engineer for the Volt, told AutoblogGreen that the EPA’s method takes into account the two extremes: People who plug in every chance they get and therefore barely ever need gasoline and people who never plug in (if you’re buying a Volt and never plug it in, we’d like to offer you a bridge or two. Call us). By figuring out what the average driver will do with the Volt, the EPA has declared that 230 mpg is reasonable. Weber said, “The number is in the ballpark, it is not unrealistic. The moment you are driving shorter trips, or you go on longer trips and look at your average fuel economy, this number is achievable.”

Keep in mind, the 230 mpg number is only valid for the Volt’s city cycle. On the highway, the number will be closer to 100 mpg. Still impressive to look at, and the first car to get triple digits from the EPA. As you can read in this detailed PDF from NREL, there is much more to think about in calculating the fuel economy of PHEVs than simply how far it can go on a single charge and then what its “regular” mpg rating is. At least, there’s more to it if you’re the EPA.

Darren Murph at Engadget:

This past Sunday, GM reportedly submitted a regulatory filing with the US Treasury, and while it can’t be taken as official word per se, it does provide reason to believe that the promised November ship date will slip to an undisclosed month and year. The report also noted that there is “no assurance” that it will qualify for any remaining energy loans to develop advanced fuel technology automobiles, and if you needed more reason to doubt the whole ordeal, have a look at this zinger: “Our competitors and others are pursuing similar technologies and other competing technologies, in some cases with more money available; there can be no assurance that they will not acquire similar or superior technologies sooner than we do.” Ah well — at least we know the four or five prototype models destined for eBay will do Ma Earth proud, right?

Harry Fuller at ZDNet:

And if gasoline does ever hit $20 per gallon, well, the Volt could put GM back into the driver’s seat. The Volt’s sticker price is apparently going to be around $40K, and it would qualify under current law for about $7500 in federal rebates. So with sales tax in most states it would retail in the mid-$30K range. Expect a waiting list, as well. Every Michigan pol will have to own one for sure. There is no official way to sign-up yet.
Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, Nissan and Toyota all expect to launch their own electric cars in the near future. It’s not clear if any of them can beat the Volt to the market. Also, not clear: will any of these companies be allowed to sell their electric cars in Saudi Arabia?

Allah Pundit:

Thrilling news, not because the Volt’s going to solve America’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil overnight but because the baseline technology’s now not only available but almost cost-effective. Why do I say almost? Let’s do the math. Initial sticker-price estimates are $40,000; assume it’ll be a bit more than that, then deduct $7,500 for the federal tax credit you’ll get for buying one. Let’s say that leaves us with a cost of $35,000. Figure a new car with standard fuel efficiency will get 20 mpg and run you $18,000. Now assume gas prices of $3 per gallon. Buying the cheaper car will save you enough money to afford 5,667 gallons of gas, which, at 20 mpg, means it would be a better deal than the Volt for the first … 113,000 miles. That also doesn’t account for (a) the (comparatively tiny) cost of electricity to charge the battery, (b) the headaches for apartment-dwellers in finding a place to charge the thing, (c) the possibility of higher maintenance costs as the Volt’s new technology suffers glitches, and (d) the strain on urban electrical grids a decade or two down the road when these suckers become popular.

But never mind that. Like I say, we’re thinking big picture here, and the big picture for what this’ll do to Islamic oil autocracies once the technology becomes better and cheaper is sweet. Exit question: Shouldn’t Iran pessimists be looking especially carefully at this rig? If you believe some sort of confrontation in the Gulf is inevitable and you realize what’ll happen to oil prices if the Straits of Hormuz are closed or, god forbid, a regional war breaks out, then suddenly the Volt doesn’t seem like a terrible deal. Especially if you toss a little Carter-esque Hopenchange stagflation in there for old time’s sake.

John Cole

UPDATE: Daniel Gross at Slate

Allah Pundit

UPDATE #2: John Hudson at The Atlantic with a round-up

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2 Comments

Filed under Energy, Environment, Infrastructure, Technology

2 responses to “Eat My Electricity, Prius!

  1. Pingback: What We’ve Built This Weekend « Around The Sphere

  2. Pingback: What We’ve Built Today « Around The Sphere

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