Chevy Volt getting lots of press

Chevy Volt under 230 mpg bannerThe Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid sedan anticipated in late 2011. Periodically I search for news stories on the Volt, but today the news stories found me. I have heard four different news blurbs discussing the Volt today (over three different forms of media) without even trying. I would say GM’s public relations department gets a gold star today.

I’m taking away a gold star, however, for the design of the banner unfurled above the vehicle at today’s announcement. (See image.) To me, it screams “23 MPG.” GM wants us to read it “230 MPG” but I just don’t see the smiley outlet thing as a zero. Do you?

The story lead has been GM’s 230 MPG claim. That it’s turning heads is no surprise, but I’m hungry for more details. GM says the Volt’s city EPA rating will be 230 miles per gallon, which I don’t doubt (even though the EPA hasn’t tested it yet) because GM has been negotiating with the EPA over methodology for a while now. But it will be interesting to see what the accompanying highway and overall numbers will turn out to be, and what assumptions will be made to reach them.

GM has said that a fully-charged Volt should be able to travel 40 miles without burning any gas, after which it should get approximately 50 MPG until the battery can be plugged in and recharge. So for the city rating, it seems the EPA is presuming that 78% of the distance traveled will be on battery power alone.

0.78 mi@∞ mpg + 0.22 mi@50 mpg → 1 mi / 0.0044 gal = 227.3 mpg

I don’t think 78% sounds unreasonable, but I’m curious how it was chosen Of course, should you want to know how much gas you would burn were you to drive a Volt, you should ignore the EPA’s 78% figure and come up with a percentage that represents your particular driving habits.

Charging the Volt’s battery at off-peak times (night) should cost less than $1 in most U.S. regions, so those first 40 miles will be reasonably cheap. Do you have an outlet in your garage?