Fast Company

The Chevy Volt Gets 230 MPG. So What?

chevy VoltGM announced Tuesday that the much-ballyhooed plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt will get 230 mpg. At first glance, that's a mind-blowingly high rating, and GM knows it. That's why the automaker's early marketing campaign for the car touts the number. But what does it actually mean?

According to GM, the Volt's 230-mpg rating, which applies only to city driving, is based on new methodology being developed by the EPA. The EPA hasn't revealed how exactly this methodology works--probably because it's still in the works--but GM says that the number is an average between people who plug in their Volts all the time and people who rarely plug in. Impressive enough, although the number could be significantly lower for, say, cars on their way back from Costco with a full trunk that's blasting the air-conditioning. And as anyone who has experienced the stickier days of this summer knows, sometimes a blast of AC is necessary.

GM won't say what the Volt's highway rating is, although CEO Fritz Henderson claims that it will hover somewhere above 100 mpg. But the Volt still faces hurdles of both price and availability. GM is struggling to keep the car under $40,000, and the company wrote last week in a regulatory filing that the Volt's technology may not yet be commercially viable. That's slightly worrying for a car that is scheduled to be released in 2010.

By the time the Volt finally hits the streets, it wil have some competition in the form of the Nissan Leaf EV, which will get the equivalent of 340 mpg and cost between $25,000 and $33,000 when it is released next year.

So yes, 230 mpg is an impressive number, but given GM's potential issues with delays and price bloating, it's irrelevant.

[Via Wired, CNN]

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7 Comments

  • Gerry Wright

    Well the reality of the situation is that because of your obvious narrow minded and biased opinion this would be irrelevant to you, however the reaction of the people who really have expertise in this field is completely the opposite of yours. The facts are clearly stated with regard to the capability and potential of this vehicle. If you read the "Penalty of Leadership" which was written in response to the detractors of the Cadillac V8 Touring model, the critics are quite simply repeating history. If the vehicle had Tesla on it, was a two-seater, and cost $120,000 then it would be worthy of your praise, or more importantly if it came with a name like Toyota. Unfortunately for Tesla and Toyota they have nothing that can compete with the Volt. In summary; if you look up irrelevant in the dictionary you will find your picture next to the definition.

  • Gerry Wright

    Well the reality of the situation is that because of your obvious narrow minded and biased opinion this would be irrelevant to you, however the reaction of the people who really have expertise in this field is completely the opposite of yours. The facts are clearly stated with regard to the capability and potential of this vehicle. If you read the "Penalty of Leadership" which was written in response to the detractors of the Cadillac V8 Touring model, the critics are quite simply repeating history. If the vehicle had Tesla on it, was a two-seater, and cost $120,000 then it would be worthy of your praise, or more importantly if it came with a name like Toyota. Unfortunately for Tesla and Toyota they have nothing that can compete with the Volt. In summary; if you look up irrelevant in the dictionary you will find your picture next to the definition.

  • Peter Mirus

    This article makes me wonder: on the face of it, anything above 100MPG seems impressive. However, unless there is a rating that measured by cost-per-mile and cost-to-environment, how does the consumer figure out what that MPG rating gets them? Electricity is not free, is often produced in a way that is taxing on the environment, and does not necessarily reduce our dependence on foreign resources.

  • Peter Mirus

    This article makes me wonder: on the face of it, anything above 100MPG seems impressive. However, unless there is a rating that measured by cost-per-mile and cost-to-environment, how does the consumer figure out what that MPG rating gets them? Electricity is not free, is often produced in a way that is taxing on the environment, and does not necessarily reduce our dependence on foreign resources.

  • Pete Collins

    The key question I think needs to be asked is : "At GM has the culture and the organization changed at all ?? I think not --

    The price and the targeted customer are the typical GM approach to success. What a we need are aggressive leaders who can first create a real vision of their place in the future and then deliver on it. This isn't about MARKETING your way out of a mess with cute phrases and arrogance till you retire. This leadership JUST doesn't get it -- and probably never will

  • Gerry Wright

    Well the reality of the situation is that because of your obvious narrow minded and biased opinion this would be irrelevant to you, however the reaction of the people who really have expertise in this field is completely the opposite of yours. The facts are clearly stated with regard to the capability and potential of this vehicle. If you read the "Penalty of Leadership" which was written in response to the detractors of the Cadillac V8 Touring model, the critics are quite simply repeating history. If the vehicle had Tesla on it, was a two-seater, and cost $120,000 then it would be worthy of your praise, or more importantly if it came with a name like Toyota. Unfortunately for Tesla and Toyota they have nothing that can compete with the Volt. In summary; if you look up irrelevant in the dictionary you will find your picture next to the definition.

  • Peter Mirus

    This article makes me wonder: on the face of it, anything above 100MPG seems impressive. However, unless there is a rating that measured by cost-per-mile and cost-to-environment, how does the consumer figure out what that MPG rating gets them? Electricity is not free, is often produced in a way that is taxing on the environment, and does not necessarily reduce our dependence on foreign resources.