One more hurdle for Volt: EPA mileage rating

Posted Nov. 19, 2010 at 4:05 p.m.

General Motors has begun commercial production of the Chevrolet Volt, producing cars at the automaker’s Detroit plantĀ  intended for sale or lease to consumers.

But there’s one final problem, one that’s been dragging on for years, that needs to get cleared up.

It’s illegal to sell new cars in the United States without an EPA fuel economy label — and the government still hasn’t figured out how to measure the Volt’s fuel economy. That means no fuel economy label and that means GM dealers still can’t start selling the cars.

“We’re having good discussions with them,” GM spokesman Nick Richards said of the company’s continuing work with the EPA.

GM is confident the problem will be resolved by mid-December, Richards said, so the automaker can stick to its plan to begin Volt sales by the end of the year. first wrote about this issue in September 2008. At that time, discussions between GM and the EPA had been going on for some time.

In August 2009, GM held a press conference at its Detroit headquarters announcing that, based on a preliminary formula for measuring the car’s fuel economy, the Volt was expected to get an EPA-estimated 230 miles per gallon.

Fuel economy for the Volt is complicated because any estimate is unlikely to come close what individual users experience. That’s because, unlike most cars — including ’s hybrids — the Volt’s fuel economy will vary enormously depending on how far the car is driven between charges.

For example, a recent test drive of about 230 miles from Washington, D.C., to New York City showed the Volt getting about 37 miles per gallon.

However, if the trip had been a typical round trip commute of less than 40 miles the car would have burned no gasoline. In other words, it would have gotten infinite miles per gallon.

For trips in between when only a little bit of gasoline might be burned — trips of 50, 60 or 150 miles — the car’s fuel economy could be anything from thousands of miles per gallon to the 35 or 40 mpg the Volt seems to get if its battery isn’t charged at all.

A spokeswoman for the EPA would not comment on the matter beyond confirming that GM cannot begin selling the Volt until this issue has been resolved.

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  1. Montemalone Nov. 22, 2010 at 7:50 a.m.

    It seems pretty straight forward. Give the mileage achieved when not using the battery/electric motor. Even most Americans can understand that.

  2. Chris in WI Nov. 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    even at 35 to 40 mpg it’s better then most cars. Why is everyone so down on this? We have to start somewhere if we are going to get back to where we were in the 1890’s when electric cars were more prevelent then gas ones were.

    Sucks our country takes so long to catch up to the past sometimes (*Cough* Cannabis Prohibition). We coulda had cars running on biomass fuel to recharge the batteries and hemp based plastics that are biodegradable since 1938 when the decorticator was invented to process raw industrial hemp. Henry Ford made a car from hemp plastics that are biodegradable and stronger then steel (and very light).

    Why are we not doing these things? well let’s see these inventions happened around 1937 and Dupont made nylon around that time and the sectretary of the tresury was the richest man in the US and owned millions of acres of timber he used to sell to the paper plants for newsprint (Hemp was made illegal in 1937 by the tresury dept if you didn’t know).

    I wonder why all of a sudden Cannabis started getting called Marijuana (well they were ignorant and mispelled it Marihuana because they apparently didn’t know a spanish ‘J’ is pronounced as an ‘H’).

    One could go on for days, but don’t take my word for it… do some research on your own like I did… It will blow your mind! (posted quickly sorry if I missed the spelling on some stuff… I tend to do that :P )

  3. JeremyK Nov. 23, 2010 at 1:16 pm


    The problem with that is that most people will not use the gasoline engine during the normal course of a week. In fact, over half of American’s would use zero gasoline on a daily basis for their commutes. The EPA sticker has to reflect the strong advantage of the EV mode and range of 25-50 miles. Those EV miles will be at ~99 MPGe, which is what the EPA just awarded the Nissan Leaf (which is an all-electric vehicle).