[Oeva-list] The ever misunderstood Volt

Graunke, Gary gary.graunke at intel.com
Wed Dec 22 08:38:22 PST 2010

I've been driving about 6K miles a year on both my all-electric Insight and plug-in Prius. I drive the Insight in town and Prius for the long trips.

I'd drive the Insight for more trips if it had more range (now just 60 miles under in-town driving, 48 miles at 55 mph), or if we actually get the charging infrastructure installed. It gets about 6 miles/KWH at 45 mph, and 4.8 mi/KWH at 55 mph.  This is 200 mpge (vs the heavier Volt and Leaf 93 and 99 mpge). It does this with only 10 KWH of batteries, vs 16 KWH (8 usable) in the Volt and 30(?) KWH (24 usable) in the Leaf. It weighs 1850 lbs and has a CD of 0.25, while the 4-5 passenger Volt and Leaf are about 3200 lbs each. The Leaf CD is 0.28-no idea about the Volt. The mostly aluminum and composite 2000 Honda Insight is still the Guinness record holder for best mpg of any production car (103 miles per British gallon-about 20% more than a US gallon).

The Prius also has 10KWH of batteries (was rather expensive at the time), and can still get 70 mpg at 60 mph for a 200 mile trip. It does better around town (but I drive the Insight which is twice as good mpge, uses no gas at all, and doesn't have to be tricked into shutting off the engine). On long trips, it is still a bit better than a normal Prius when there are hills (the larger battery provides sufficient storage for downhill regenerative braking).

The Volt should also provide sufficient storage for longer trips, so it is a bit disappointing to see only 93 mpge and 37 mpg for gas. The Prius does better with gas, but about the same as the Volt and Leaf with electricity (assuming you are diligent about getting it to shut off the engine and cruise in electric mode up to 45 mph).

Nevertheless, while there is still room for improvement, but the Volt, Leaf, and plug-in Prius are big steps forward. The hardest part is getting started-incremental improvements usually follow. At the same time, an EPA sticker on a new Honda 2-seat hybrid said that the best hybrids made today are only getting 35 mpg!  That is nowhere near the 70 mpg that the 2000 Honda Insight did, and I think the EPA sticker should reflect that! So we need to keep automakers (and the government) honest about not only what is possible and economical, but what *has been already done* in the past by automakers, recently and even 100 years ago!

Any of these are vastly better than a normal all-gas car and (if you do any in-town driving) non-plug-in hybrids. While we want to challenge ourselves and automakers to do better, the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. We should encourage automakers doing the right thing with our wallets.

I'm looking forward to my Leaf, and, since I'm retiring soon, dream about converting my Winnebago VW Rialta motor home (now a decent 20 mpg on just gas) to a plug-in hybrid.


From: oeva-list-bounces at oeva.org [mailto:oeva-list-bounces at oeva.org] On Behalf Of D K
Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 7:25 AM
To: oeva-list at oeva.org
Subject: Re: [Oeva-list] The ever misunderstood Volt

Let me add my 2 cents.  If only one car fits and you do lots of long trips -  would Prius with extra battery be better?  It surely gets better milege on gas, and battery upgrade packs are widely available. Even assuming Prius can't go on electricity only at highway speeds - it still gets great milage in battery assist mode, totalling in great milage overall.  Isn't that the bottom line?

My point is - Volt is nothing amazingly new, considering the price. And it will hardly ever pay back for cost adder, compared to similar sized ICE or Prius.


On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 1:30 AM, Alan Batie <alan at batie.org<mailto:alan at batie.org>> wrote:
On 12/21/10 11:37 PM, Nick wrote:
> I still think
> the better option is the Leaf with an ICE in the garage for weekends, rather
> than trying to make one car serve both uses.
It depends.  I was originally going to get the Volt because I would only
need one car, which is a big plus.  However, when I got to thinking
about where I actually go, and the plans for high speed charging
infrastructure that matched a lot of where I drive, the Leaf will
actually serve for a lot of my long distance driving as well.  And I'm
happy with a beater for my ICE (actually, got my old Explorer back from
a friend I sold it to, since I can't afford both the Leaf and a newish
ICE at the same time).  But if you do more travelling outside the
high-speed charging infrastructure, or aren't willing to wait for it to
get built, or don't have room for two cars, a Volt is an ideal solution.
 It probably is even the way I still should have gone, as I'll probably
still put half the miles on my ICE because the Leaf just can't get
there.  I may actually end up using more gas because of the Leaf...
(well, that and a stupid decision to trade off my Hybrid Escape for a
Prius a couple years ago).

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