Chevy Says Volt to Get 230 MPG

VoltmileageIn a bold move, Chevy claims that the 2011 Chevy Volt plug-in electric will get 230 mpg in city driving; the automaker got this fuel economy number using a newly devised EPA method. This isn’t an official number, but the company hosted a web conference this morning and boldly touted the claim. They even advertised the fuel economy number leading up to today’s announcement in anonymous ads on television. This would be the first vehicle to ever receive an EPA rating of more than 100 mpg.

The skepticism of the claim comes from a number of factors:

  1. The 230-mpg rating was devised using a new EPA methodology created specifically for the Chevy Volt and other plug-in hybrids like it.The methodology itself is still not set in stone and is preliminary.
  2. The Volt’s overall range will be 40 miles on an electric charge and 300 miles after that. If it packs a 10-gallon gas tank (we know it’ll be less than 12), our simple math finds that it will get 34 mpg overall. GM says it will get 40 mpg once the battery is depleted, which would mean an exceptionally small 8.5-gallon gas tank.

Here is the methodology explanation provided by GM: “Under the new methodology being developed, EPA weights plug-in electric vehicles as traveling more city miles than highway miles on only electricity.”

We’re not sure if that means they’re factoring in a nightly recharge nor do we know how many miles their new cycle includes. If it is only a 40-mile cycle, it would lead to extremely high results.

The Volt’s premise and underlying technology hasn’t changed since our last round of reporting on it. The Volt will likely be an extremely efficient vehicle, and one without the “range anxiety” of future electric-only vehicles. But to the layman, it will likely never get 230 mpg in the real world.  

More Chevy Volt News


Doug G

I drive 20 miles to and from work, for a total of a 40 mile roundtrip.
Unless I took the car on another daily trip I could theoretically get infinite miles per gallon.

I'm pretty sure I could pretty easily get 230mpg, especially if I used another car for shopping and fun and just used the volt for work commute...

I don't disagree. But is that MPG?

Amuro Ray

View this no more than a sales gimmick. Close to me are several plug in Prii, with the 100+ mpg body stickers. No clue on how u can achieve 100+ mpg in every day NORMAL driving.

I'll bet that, with all these 100+, 200+ mpg rating, u really have 2 suffer 2.5 symptoms:
Feather foot disease: rpm can go no higher than 2000 rpm from stop to start, and throughout the course of driving;
Defective hearing and seeing disease: can turn the sound of horns, motorists' insults, into the sweet sound of cheering u up for saving gas, and the view of the middle finger to a big thumb's up!
(0.5 on this one as only people from hot places will suffer this sickness) Hypothermia is in your daily life - and AC is waste to u.

I possess all of them, which is why I can get my Versa to reach 34 mpg on fwy and 30 mpg in mixed (50/50) driving.

If Doug G. doesn't possess any of the 2.5 diseases above, then he won't be able to achieve the 40 mpg that the Volt can provide. Any of the above will drain the battery like crazy.


Dave -
I assume that over the course of a year, with a mix of short city trips and long highway trips, you will use some number of gallons of gasoline and travel some number of miles. Based on typical driving patterns, they estimate that over this long length of time you'll use one gallon per 230 miles traveled.

Personally, I think this isn't the worst way of calculating, but most will use this as a way to calculate fuel costs, which doesn't account for the cost of electricity. While it isn't much, it really should be included.

Now, on with the domestic/import flamewar, moving the goal posts, and armchair expert comments that this article is likely to spawn. :)


"But to the layman, it will likely never get 230 mpg in the real world."

Why not? Doug G's scenario is the perfect example of why you will get 230 mpg.

If you want to be skeptical then be skeptical of the EPA and their methodology...but don't condemn the messenger.

230 mpg city/40 mpg hwy!


Doug -

Would you spend $40k on a car that you only drive 40 miles per day?

Dave Wuss

With the emergence of the Nissan Leaf the game has changed. Not only will Nissan debut the Leaf earlier, it will also be less expensive to buy and have a longer electric range (100 miles vs 40). The electric car field is moving so quickly that already GM has been passed.

Original sheth


You continue to show your ignorance. The Leaf will be out at some point in 2010 but NOT for retail sales. Nissan will only offer it in select cities to fleet customers where charging infrastructure will be set up. Furthermore, the Leaf does not have the range of the Volt. GM is hoping to make as many as 60k Volts for RETAIL sale per year.

I figured DaveT would disparage the Volt's mileage and he did. The EPA came up with the rules and EVERy plug in will be subject to the same system. According to a article if you drove 300M and used every drop of gas mileage would be about 62mpg. The gas tank will be very small- maybe only 6 gallons.

Original sheth

This is only CITY mileage, not overall. The highway number will be far lower. It would've been nice if that was made clear.

Dave W,
The problem with electrics is that range anxiety which is why I really like the Volt set-up. You can go on a trip in the Volt. You can cross state lines etc. It's very American, and easier to convince buyers on.

The Leaf will be great in certain areas but the Volt can be sold to suburbanites etc.

That's why I think the 230 # is a strange way to go. We're working on an alternative now and will have a post up later.

In the lot we use, people clearly spend $80K+ to drive 40 miles per day.

3 Pac

40 miles per day, 5 days per week, comes out to more than 10,000 miles per year. If Doug never drives his car on the weekend, he'll roll about 10K miles. I presume he will drive it occasionally on weekends, maybe even more than 40 miles. If you factor that in, Doug could be putting as much as 14,700 miles per year on his $40K car. Lots of people put 14,000 miles per year on their $40K 3-series BMWs, and Doug might think 230 MPG is more useful than a tiny backseat, lovely alloy wheels, and a propeller symbol on the trunk. Go for it, Doug.

Rather than haggling about the actual mileage or the cost of the car, I would like to focus on the fact that Chevy has produced an electric car that will actually go on the market in the very near future.

This is great news.

All I can say is; "the Volt is a sexy looking car". $40K is a bit much but not outlandish when you consider that the price is comparable to a Cadillac.

And remember there's a $7500 tax credit too!


"In the lot we use, people clearly spend $80K+ to drive 40 miles per day."

Not in my parking lot. Still this is not the car for the average Joe that makes $30K a year.

Dave Wuss

The average family will not be able to afford the Volt even with the tax credit as the cost is still too high. It's not going to be a economically cost effective car. posted an article about a traditional hybrid like the Prius being a better buy:

All of this is for naught though if GM can't get the batteries to last longer than seven years. Edmunds has been blogging that GM hasn't been able to figure this out yet so the cost of the car could actually go up.


I'm not seeing anyone address the effects of EMF on the occupants from this fully electric power train. The telecom industry has suppressed the damage to DNA, and the formation of cancer cells from over exposure to cell towers, and cell phones. The same types of dangers are lurking in these pseudo electric vehicles, and without any policing, could go unchecked. One of the more common immediate effects from over exposure to EMF is drowsiness. HELLO! anyone home?

Doug G

Whoa whoa, I never said I wanted one ; )
I'm just saying, if I did have one I could, without too much effort, get around 230MPG out of it, as I have the ideal daily commute.

Unless the performance of it really blew me away, or if gas were $6-$8 a gallon, which would begin to justify the high price tag, I would have to pass.


Nissan electric is only you go 100 miles. Then what? You have to stop and charge it to go further. Not so with the volt which will have a total range of well over 400 miles and you can gas up and keep going infinitely always driving on electric current. As with the Chrysler electrics, there had been precious few details of the leaf on how they will achieve their numbers. Give GM credit that the development of the volt has been transparent and open for examination. Let's see Nissan and Chrysler do that first, then I'll buy into their improvements.

Original sheth


No one with a shred of intelligene thinks this car is going to be a best seller in GM's lineup. It wont be cheap but then again computers, HDTVs, cell phones, etc. were not cheap when new either. This car is for people who want the latest and greatest technology. $32,500 is not cheap, but its hardly the realm of exotics as you are claiming.

Original sheth

Thank you morton.

Nissan JUST announced their electric car out of the blue and DW is calling it a Volt beater. Obviously he didnt read the details- he never does of course. Nissan's car will be used for fleets initially and only certain cities will get the car. They have not even decided if customers will be allowed to buy the entire car- it may be lease only.


What do you mean when you say "Nissan's car will be used for fleets initially"?

I think if GM stops trying to be over the top with mpg claims, the entire state of California will buy every last Volt there is. They pay more for houses with green tech, they'll pay more for the Volt.

Original sheth


GM is following the EPA guidelines as they exist at the moment. If you have a problem with the EPA trying to rate plug ins for MPG than say that. Stop acting like GM is fabricating randome mileage figures. I understand you are the ultimate GM skeptic, but common sense tells us that ANY plug in is going to have a high city number if the EPA's rating system is used. Is there ANYTHING that GM does that doesn't rub you the wrong way? This reminds me of people who buy a car and then get mad at the manufacturer when the car doesn't get exactly what's on the EPA sticker. The manufacturers don't set the policy.

Original Dave Wuss

Obviously reading comprehension is not one of your strengths as Dave Thomas is not anti-GM. If you laid off the Kool Aid for just one day you'd see that.


The Volt requires energy to operate whether from the combustion of gasoline or electrical energy from a grid/power plant that converted some other fuel into electical energy.
In the case of the Volt operating 40 miles per day with a nightly recharge, 8 kWh are required for the overnight recharge per the GM press release. The 8 kWH equate to 27,304 Btu or .236 gallons of gasoline. The .236 gallons for 40 miles yields 170 miles per gallon.
The power plant conversion efficiency of 40% results in 2.5 Btu's of fuel energy entering the power plant producing only 1 Btu at the plug in a residence. The resulting equivalent miles per gallon becomes 68. A good mileage but not close to 230 mpg reported.


This car has an Electric motor and a battery that must be recharged after 40 miles.
If you will be the lucky one to kip this battery for 300 charge/discharge cycles you need a new battery set after driving 12000 miles (40miles x 300 recharge cycles). If the cost of the battery is $5000 , then you spend $0.4 per mile only in battery cost. Kilowatts, recharging the battery are extra.
Oh, by the way, this car has a gasoline engine 40MPG.
I bought a used Toyota Corolla, manual, on 2002 with 35000 miles. Now the car has 120000 miles and still makes 34MPG (Summer).


The Volt is a groundbreaking vehicle but GM must be careful how they make their claims. By claiming 230 mpg, without explaining what they mean, they set themselves up for some backlash when people buy it expecting to go 1,000 miles on a six gallon tank of gas. Fritz Henderson needs to make sure his talking points are completely accurate because any ambiguity in the message could take away from the true value of the car, as pointed out by the comments above.

Original Dave Wuss

Tonight Bloomberg tv blasted GM about their 230mpg claim labeling them misleading. An editor from Edmunds said GM still can't get the batteries to last seven years in lab tests.

Nissan's Carlos Ghosn was on Bloomberg touting the Leaf. He said they will have a global roll out by Q2 in North America, Europe, and Japan. He was pressed for a starting price and would only estimate NA target of $26-27k. He called the Leaf production ready.

With the Leaf's lower starting price and 2.5x more electric range it looks like Nissan will have a hit on it's hands. It makes me wonder what the other Jap companies are up to as unlike GM they don't need the positive pr so they keep R&D secret.

Original sheth

Dave Wuss:

Wrong as usual. The Leaf will be rolled out in 2010 but it will not be available at every Nissan dealer and it may not even be available for purchase. In addition, the car can ONLY be driven 100 miles since it lacks a range extender. Any pricing being bandied about at this stage for the Volt or Leaf should be taken with a grain of salt. Furthermore, you didn't specify if the Leaf price is before or after rebate. Tesla uses the "after rebate" price when hyping up the Model S that may or may not show up. You also fail to mention the Volt is actually attractive and the Leaf is awkward looking, at best.


Oh Shet shut up. How is the guy wrong if he is posting information from an interview, are you calling Carlos Ghosn wrong? You are a lunatic about GM. There is no doubt you are employed by them.


Any company that shows only the cost of the used fuel and not the used electric and battery cost is LYING. These numbers should be displayed right next to this "MPG rating". Perhaps the new rule of measure should be cost per mile to operate. In my case for an 80 mile/day commute. The volt will cost me $571.92 per month to operate (gas/elec&battery). My current subaru at 27 MPG only costs $166 per month in fuel.

Perhaps President Oblahblah is putting pressure on his new employee-GM CEO to ignore the other factors.


Actually the Leaf is nothing new. Its probably coping off the Think electric cars that have been in Europe for ages. Guess what, Think was sold by Ford because it couldn't make money. Bailed out a couple times. I hear they might be finally bring them to American to try and survive. But the point is that car has a 100 to 120 mile range and can't succeed. If anyone wants to know how the Telsa performs under hard tests, watch a Top Gear episode. The battery ran out to quick under aggressive driving, engine overheated, brakes failed. Not a good reliabllity showing for the car on the show. Europe is more open to it and even compared it to gas brother the Elise Lotus. Guess who won the overall test due to mechanical issue.

Dave Wuss

You bring up some very good points. It's been discovered by another auto blog editor that GM uses some very misleading math. For instance in their total cost of ownership and mpg formula estimates they have the driver as weighing 12lbs! They also use .5 per kwh as a baseline cost. The problem with this is you can't buy electricity in the USA for .5 per kwh. It appears GM hasn't changed one bit.


I used a cost/kWh of $0.19. That is a New York Tristate Area Rate. It would probably be cheaper if charging at night. This is inconsequential though, to the cost. They are right that the electric is cheap. Elec cost is only $0.06 per mile for the first 40 miles of a day. The major expense is the battery. Using bluemonkey's value of only being able to get 300 charge/ recharge cycles out of a battery and then replacing at $5,000 cost, that is $417 per month if you are recharging every day (as most will). Even if you only recharge 5 days a week it doesn't change the final conclusion.

Here is another practicality; how many city drivers actually have a plug to plug into on their street in front of their apartments. In New York, none. And chances are that they are taking the train anyway. It's good for suburbanites but most of them commute more than 40 miles per day. Otherwise thay too would take the train.


Two things are clear to me:

1. GM could have been more clear with its "230 mpg" claim, but i saw a segment during which GM clearly stated you have to plug it in at night (off peak), drive less than certain number of miles, etc etc to get to that goal. Generating hype is a difficult act.

2. We need to look at history. Remember the ORIGINAL Honda Insight, or the GM EV1 (don't remember exact name)? They were probably expensive toys that were not very practical. The Volt will need to hold up most of GM's claims in real-world testing/driving, as well as remain reasonably reliable and practical to sell. The Prius did better than the original Insight probably because it had 4 doors with room for 4 and was as affordable as the common Camry.

Original sheth

"Any company that shows only the cost of the used fuel and not the used electric and battery cost is LYING. These numbers should be displayed right next to this "MPG rating"."

First of all, you cannot blame GM (or any company) for the EPA rating system. Maybe it will be modified before the Volt goes on sale, but any extended range plug in with a gas engine is likely to have an MPG rating. Get over it. GM does not own or run the EPA. This is how the EPA is chosing to rate the mileage of the Volt and its competitors.

Original sheth


Where in the world are you getting your information? GM has NEVER said the car needs a new battery after 300 charges. They are working on a battery with a 10 year lifespan. If people are going to suggest otherwise they need to offer proof. Not only that, the price of the battery has not been disclosed ANYWHERE. The battery can only be charged to 50% of capacity in order to enhance battery life. You will not need a new one every few years, that would be ridiculous. This battery will be made to last as long as the unit in a Prius or any other hybrid.

Orignal Ziggy

GM is stating that the battery will last 10 years but they even admit that they're still testing it. They also guarantee them for 150,000 miles. So if you drive 25,000 miles a year will the batteries die after 6 years?


It is GM's job to offer the PROOF. They should be able to tell me the capabilities if I am going to buy it. As referenced in my statement I was going off of bluemonkey's estimate that it was 300 recharges. In addition, multiple publications have reported that GM has not been able to get the battery to last up to 7 years let alone 10. $5,000 was the minimum estimate for the battery cost that i've seen in articles. Even if it were five years that's still an extra cost.
And it should be posted with the electric cost and the MPG. You can't stick your head in the sand and just say that the only info that GM can offer is the EPA MPG. EPA MPG is one particular guideline not a rule. That would still be LYING.

Original sheth

"GM is stating that the battery will last 10 years but they even admit that they're still testing it. They also guarantee them for 150,000 miles. So if you drive 25,000 miles a year will the batteries die after 6 years?"

If you drive ANY car 25k miles a year you are shortening the lifespan of that car. That would include hybrids. stop with the double standards.


You seem very bitter and ignorant. You lack even basic understanding of what MPG stands for. MPG is NOT a rating of costs, its a rating of efficiency. TO say that an MPG number is misleading because it doesn't incorporate costs of charging a battery is ridiculous. The MPG is only to tell you what you can expect to get per gallon of gasoline consumed. Nothing more. Once again I will tell you that it up to the EPA to determine what goes on the sticker at the dealership, not GM. GM cannot just invent a new sticker and rating system that combines gas usage and electricity usage. I'm sure some sort of estimate of electrical costs will appear SOMEWHERE on the sticker, but that won't affect an MPG rating.

Show me one link in which GM says the battery can only last 7 years. If that is the case why are you using 5 years as a benchmark? GM has said that when the product goes on sale they want the battery to last for 10 years or 150k miles- period. I could care less how long the battery lasts NOW- the car isn't for sale NOW. This is why they need another 15 months to develop the product.

Original sheth


When you price a Prius do you incorporate battery replacement costs? Just wondering.


Blah, Blah, all can bicker all you want or you can wait for the freakin' car to come out and truly find out it's capabilites and deficiencies.

What do I care...keep believing what editors and journalists write...afterall they obviously know more about batteries and car development than the LG engineers and GM engineers.

Dave Wuss

GM should have shown better judgement and had the EPA certify the MPG before marketing it. The official EPA comment is very telling: "EPA has not tested a Chevy Volt and therefore cannot confirm the fuel economy values claimed by GM."

GM hasn't be able to get the batteries to last even seven years in lab tests which are often not as nearly as rigorous as real world testing. The cost to replace the batteries is $8,000 - not $10,000 as originally thought.

GM's bad math exposed:



Yes, I did take the cost of new batteries into account when I was looking at Prius' last summer. At that time I really didn't think the batteries would last beyond 5 years. I am not singling out GM. I am saying that maybe MPG can never give the whole story with these hybrids and electric cars. It is disingenuous at best.

I do agree that we should wait for what the engineers find out about the battery capacity but maybe they should have waited on the 230 MPG claim also.


OS -
I have 170,000 on Toyota and I don't have worry about a 10,000 battery pack being replaced!

Here's a general rule that we should now follow. If the article on falls off the page one...stop commenting on it!


Honestly, I don't care how long the battery lasts. The only bit that should matter to the consumer is how long it is warrantied for. If it is warrantied for 150,000 miles (which I haven't verified), then I'd expect to have to pay to replace it at 150,001 miles. Average person drives 12,000-15,000 miles per year, and those that the Volt appeals to will probably drive less. Even at 12,000-15,000, I expect to have to replace the battery after 10-12 years. What will the cost of the battery be in 10-12 years? $5,000 is probably a bit of an underestimate today, $10,000 probably closer to right on, but I bet it will be much cheaper than that in 10-12 years.

Besides, say you don't replace the battery, what are you left with? A car that gets 40MPG.

So, does 10-12 years/150,000 miles of battery usage justify the extra price? That depends on how many of those miles are on the battery only. At $4/gallon though, it ought to work out just about even. (by my back of the envelope calculations)

Dave Wuss


From GM's regulatory filing:
"The Volt has not yet proven to be commercially viable. The technology required to power the Volt may not be developed in time for our planned 2010 debut. 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.”

Original sheth


No automaker announces the price of its batteries in hybrid model. That means there is no way you can accurate account for battery replacement costs when pricing a hybrid or the Volt. Toyota has never said exactly how long the battery in a Prius will last or how much a new battery costs. My understanding is that there are Prius' on the road with many, many miles and original batteries. Most hybrids come with substantial warranties on the battery and powertrain. The Volt will be no different.

MPGs do not account for costs. Period. It is not misleading to mention an MPG figure on a hybrid or electric car.


Your last entry is just foolish. You really need to stop. If you don't like batteries you shouldn't even be worrying about the Volt or any hybrid car.

Original sheth


I supposed when you compare MPG ratings on conventional cars you expect the price of gas, oil changes, tire rotations, brake maintenance and filter changes to be included as well. MPG stands for miles per gallon- nothing more, nothing less. It is NOT a statement on cost of ownership.



That is exactly the should be able to know the cost of replacing the batteries as a consumer, if needed. Perhaps I plan to keep the car beyond 10 years.

Toyota salesman were a bit dodgy about the battery lifespan question in those days. Playing hide the info doesn't give the consumer a warm and fuzzy feeling. Perhaps it cost them other sales like mine.

To their defense, Toyota prius' are now offering 10 year warranties on batteries.


OS - You said:
"If you drive ANY car 25k miles a year you are shortening the lifespan of that car. That would include hybrids. stop with the double standards."

I said:
"I have 170,000 on Toyota and I don't have worry about a 10,000 battery pack being replaced!"

How is that foolish? I don't really see the lifespan of my car being shorted and id it was a Volt or a Hybrid the batteris would have to already been replaced.
Your a fuc*in D*ck!


I just bought a 2007 Ford Excursion with 15,000 miles on it for $15,000. If gas is $4 a gallon and I get 10Mpg, I can go 50,000 miles before my truck costs as much a volt. (actually before I spend $20,000 on gas) or 80,000 miles if gas is $2.50.... So worst case, It will take me 5 to 8 years of driving before I start losing money....


A Gov't/Motors miss again.

When you see the size of the charging cable you will realize how much your electric bill will increase. Plus, most people will get tried of "the plug it in concept" fast. I just don't understand why they can't figure this part out. All other auto co. have given up on plug ins. People just won't do it each time they get home. A 40 grand GM union and govt owned mistake. That really averages about 40 on the road?
Honda Civic Hybrid, $22 grand, averages 48 around town, 58 on the road. No plugs, just drive and save. I know, I own ONE!


The battery pack itself, rated at 16 kilowatts/hour, comprises more than 220 separate cells wired in series. That means the failure of any one cell disables the entire array, though some existing hybrid vehicles also have this flaw. The Volt pack is about six feet long and weighs a hefty 375 pounds.
Voltage: 320 – 350 V
100% recharge time:
110V outlet: 6 – 6.5 h
Electromotor: 45kW
GM also claims the 2011 Chevrolet Volt can run solely on electric power for 40 miles with a full battery charge. That’s in line with studies showing that most Americans drive only about 40 miles a day, so in theory at least, a Volt could go for weeks without using a drop of gas or spewing any CO2. But some analysts think the real-world electric range will be closer to 30 miles and probably less, depending on vehicle speed, ambient temperature (which affects battery performance), and whether trips include steep grades.
After how many recharge cycles (DAYS) the Battery Pack 16KW/H with 220 separate cells wired in series, weighting 375 pounds, HAS TO BE REPLACED WITH A BRAND NEW ONE?
If this car will be used as a normal hybrid car:
If the battery pack is fully charged overnight, the fuel tank filled with gasoline (gasoline pump shuts off) and the car is driven non stop 230 miles:
Going beyond Hybrid, GM and his rescuers are going down a cliff.

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