August 18, 2009

230 mpg? As if!, you're a huge automobile manufacturer, your company is going down the tubes (or actually, gone down them). In a world with a finite supply of fuel, you skirted fuel economy standards by pushing vehicles that fell outside those standards.  The one sensible project you've ever started gets abandoned. 

You're given a chance to redeem yourself.  What do you do?

Well, if you're General Motors, you lie your ass off  tell the world that you've built a car that "gets 230 miles to the gallon," even though it really doesn't.

That's right, despite all their ads, their commercials, and all the hype, the fact is that you can not put a gallon of gasoline into a Volt and then drive for 230 miles before you need more fuel.

Basically, it's true mileage is comparable to the much lower-priced Prius.  The only thing the Volt does that the Prius doesn't is plug into a wall.  That's a critical difference because you can charge the batteries without running the engine.  And that's the key to the GM spin campaign.

Here's how GM is validating the 230 mpg claim:
The vehicle can go 40 miles on a charge.  Your daily commute is 23 miles each way, or a total of 46 miles - 6 miles more than the charge can take you. So the generator kicks in for the last few miles of your trip.  Since you're only using gasoline for a small portion of your trip, it will take you about 5 days to use a gallon of gas, and in that time you will have traveled abut 230 miles.

But that's a far cry from puring in a gallon of gas, and then hitting the highway for 230 miles, which is how most people think of mileage.

That's not to say that the car isn't getting great mileage - it is.  But beyond that first charge, the Volt isn't much better than other hybrids on the market that cost thousands of dollars less.  Its price tag indicates that GM still hasn't learned how to be competitive.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I hope you don't mind if I nitpick the nitpick-o-rama.

    First of all, nitpick on GM's logic all you want, but Nissan is using the same math with the Leaf, claiming 367 miles to the gallon. The Tesla Roadster originated the calculation strategy when they boasted their 100 mpg vehicle.

    "Plug-in vehicles are not for everyone. If you drive long distances or you can't readily get a charge, it's probably not for you. But if you can get to a plug two times a day, this is a huge huge victory." Larry Nitz, the executive director of hybrid and electric power train engineering at GM.

    I wouldn't exactly call that lying their asses off. But if it is, Nissan and Tesla are right there with them.

    "...fuel economy will begin to drop off when drivers go beyond 40 miles before recharging."

    Fuel economy drop-off is VASTLY different than "The vehicle can go 40 miles on a charge" as you wrote. You make it sound like the car will just stop at the 40 mile mark.

    "The Volt, due late next year, is designed to run 40 miles on electric charge and then use a gasoline engine to sustain the battery for longer trips." - CNet

    On the other hand, you said "Volt isn't much better than other hybrids on the market that cost thousands of dollars less."

    The Volt will still cost $10,000 more than a Prius AFTER government rebate. Nearly $18,000 without the rebate.

    Epic fail, GM.

  3. I haven't been inundated with ads about the Nissan or Tesla: I'm responding to what I'm seeing.

    And note, I did cross out "lying their asses off." But people are going to buy these cars thinking it gets 230 mpg, and they're going to be pissed when, after a drive up the highway, their fuel consumption is considerably greater.

    Not sure why you think I'm insinuating the car will stop after 40 miles.

    At the end, we reach the same conclusion: GM misses the mark again.