The EPA has revealed that the Chevy Volt will average 37mpg on its range extender engine and 93mpg when in electric mode.
Back in August 2009 we all had a good laugh at the astonishing claim from GM that the range extender Chevy Volt would do 230mpg. We speculated that GM must have based this figure on the Volt using just its plug-in charge and converted the cost of the electricity used to gallons of petrol purchased. But now the real figures are in from the EPA.
The EPA are sensibly issuing a range of figures for plug-ins and hybrids. In the Volt’s case the figure when running on the plug-in electric charge – which the EPA say is just 35 miles – is equivalent of 93mpg (112mpg UK). Once the charge runs out and the 1.4 litre petrol engine kicks in to recharge the batteries the economy drops to 37mpg (44.5mpg UK).
These figures make far more sense than the daft ones GM claimed last year. What they show is that the Volt (and the Opel / Vauxhall Ampera) is a decent compromise if you want a car that can just run around town but still manage a decent trip if you need to.
The shame is that although the plug-in costs are low – although 2.5 times GM’s own claims – they only work for a small distance. But that would be enough for most people using the Volt to commute in the week but still have a car with a proper range.
Even though the range extender is the most sensible hybrid solution, it still falls short compared to a decent turbo-diesel. Only if you use just the plug-in element on a regular basis with very little range-extender use will you benefit. The rage extender engine also only has around 100bhp on tap, so performance once the original charge has gone will probably be quite poor. In fact, it’s possible that the Chevy Volt’s range extender engine may not be able to cope at all.
So much expensive technology to achieve so little.