Chevrolet Volt To Get 230 MPG Around Town


Dear God, is GM serious? 230 MPG for the upcoming Volt in city mileage? Yes, I know, figuring out the miles per “gallon” for a hybrid, especially in the hotly debated “city cycle” portion of its operating realm is tricky. And it’s even trickier for the Volt, due to the drivetrain layout, but … shoot, even if GM is half right about this, the equivalent of 115 around town will be impressive enough … but 230? Talk about throwing down the gauntlet.

The news from GM starts thus: ” WARREN, Mich. – The Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle is expected to achieve city fuel economy of at least 230 miles per gallon, based on development testing using a draft EPA federal fuel economy methodology for labeling for plug-in electric vehicles.”

And two things leap out at me.

One: ” … based on development testing using a draft EPA federal fuel economy methodology … ”

Two: ” … at LEAST 230 miles per gallon … ” (emphasis mine).

Let’s take those in order. In the first place, that’s the new, and much talked about EPA measurements for fuel efficiency for hybrids. So that MIGHT explain why the number seems so high. For example, I would like to see how a Toyota Prius rates under the same scheme. I’m not saying that GM is playing fast and loose here, or cooking the books, just that if you compare 230 MPG to a Prius’s 45 or 50 around town, most people will think that the Volt has been worked over by Doc Brown and his Flux Capacitor.

It’s that second one that really gets me though: ” … at LEAST 230 miles per gallon … “, so that means the Volt might turn in MORE than 230 MPG? I’d love to see that … maybe it’s because of the way the Volt is laid out, drivetrain-wise, it’s possibly to run it on nothing but batteries with little to no ICE as gen-set while tooling around town.

I don’t know, but if you can replicate 230+MPG in the real world, that’s going to shut a lot of people up.

Of course, it will just get me thinking.

Thinking about things like stuffing that drivetrain in something like a now-defunct Pontiac Solstice. And then tuning that drive train more to the performance end of things. Like, say, what if GM were to cram that into a small, two-seater and dial it back to getting “only” 160 MPG around town yet blast said sportscar to the end of a dragstrip in the low 10s?

Hey, I’m just asking …

Here’s the presser from GM:

Chevrolet Volt Expects 230 mpg in City Driving

* First mass-produced vehicle to claim more than 100 mpg composite fuel economy
* Tentative EPA methodology results show 25 kilowatt hours/100 miles electrical efficiency in city cycle
* Plugging in daily is key to high-mileage performance

WARREN, Mich. – The Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle is expected to achieve city fuel economy of at least 230 miles per gallon, based on development testing using a draft EPA federal fuel economy methodology for labeling for plug-in electric vehicles.

The Volt, which is scheduled to start production in late 2010 as a 2011 model, is expected to travel up to 40 miles on electricity from a single battery charge and be able to extend its overall range to more than 300 miles with its flex fuel-powered engine-generator.

“From the data we’ve seen, many Chevy Volt drivers may be able to be in pure electric mode on a daily basis without having to use any gas,” said GM Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson. “EPA labels are a yardstick for customers to compare the fuel efficiency of vehicles. So, a vehicle like the Volt that achieves a composite triple-digit fuel economy is a game-changer.”

According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, nearly eight of 10 Americans commute fewer than 40 miles a day .

“The key to high-mileage performance is for a Volt driver to plug into the electric grid at least once each day,” Henderson said.

Volt drivers’ actual gas-free mileage will vary depending on how far they travel and other factors, such as how much cargo or how many passengers they carry and how much the air conditioner or other accessories are used. Based on the results of unofficial development testing of pre-production prototypes, the Volt has achieved 40 miles of electric-only, petroleum-free driving in both EPA city and highway test cycles.

Under the new methodology being developed, EPA weights plug-in electric vehicles as traveling more city miles than highway miles on only electricity. The EPA methodology uses kilowatt hours per 100 miles traveled to define the electrical efficiency of plug-ins. Applying EPA’s methodology, GM expects the Volt to consume as little as 25 kilowatt hours per 100 miles in city driving. At the U.S. average cost of electricity (approximately 11 cents per kWh), a typical Volt driver would pay about $2.75 for electricity to travel 100 miles, or less than 3 cents per mile.

The Chevrolet Volt uses grid electricity as its primary source of energy to propel the car. There are two modes of operation: Electric and Extended-Range. In electric mode, the Volt will not use gasoline or produce tailpipe emissions when driving. During this primary mode of operation, the Volt is powered by electrical energy stored in its 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

When the battery reaches a minimum state of charge, the Volt automatically switches to Extended-Range mode. In this secondary mode of operation, an engine-generator produces electricity to power the vehicle. The energy stored in the battery supplements the engine-generator when additional power is needed during heavy accelerations or on steep inclines.

“The 230 city mpg number is a great indication of the capabilities of the Volt’s electric propulsion system and its ability to displace gasoline,” said Frank Weber, global vehicle line executive for the Volt. “Actual testing with production vehicles will occur next year closer to vehicle launch. However, we are very encouraged by this development, and we also think that it is important to continue to share our findings in real time, as we have with other aspects of the Volt’s development.”

About Chevrolet
Chevrolet is one of America ‘s best-known and best-selling automotive brands, and one of the fastest growing brands in the world. With fuel solutions that go from “gas-friendly to gas-free,” Chevy has nine models that get 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway, and offers three hybrid models. More than 2.5 million Chevrolets that run on E85 biofuel have been sold. Chevy delivers expressive design, spirited performance and provides the best value in every segment in which it competes. More information on Chevrolet can be found at For more information on the Volt, visit

General Motors Company, one of the world’s largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 235,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the new General Motors Company can be found at

7 Comments on "Chevrolet Volt To Get 230 MPG Around Town"

  1. Chris Burdick

    When hybrids first started getting really popular (2nd gen Prius,) I wondered why they're doing it that. Why run on electric only when coasting, stopped, braking, or using excessively low power? It still runs on gasoline most of the time, and the electric motor isn't helping save fuel nearly as much as it could. Electric motors are powerful enough to power the car by itself, so why not reverse it and use gasoline only when necessary.

    So while I commend Chevy for doing this system with the Volt now, it should have been this way all along.

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  3. Stew

    I will believe it when it gets a diesel engine……not before

    Considering most diesel engines under 3.5L get better economy that all hybrids. Diesel is the only way they are going to do it.

    And I hate diesels…….so for me to say it……..

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