The rating, based on methodology drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency, would make the Volt the most fuel-efficient vehicle on the road, although other manufacturers have not revealed the gas mileage for their electric models. The rating assumes that city driving would be done almost entirely on the battery charge. (NY Times)
Overall – with city and highway numbers combined – the Volt is still expected to hit a triple digit rating, said GM.
The mileage calculation is based upon data that 80% of drivers do not drive more than 40 miles in the average day and that the Volt’s electric battery can power the car for 40 miles before the small gasoline engine even turns on. Thus, the car receives a sky-high MPG rating because you’re essentially averaging the unlimited mileage you get on trips under 40 miles on battery with the (gasoline) mileage you receive on the infrequent 40+ mile trips.
Chevrolet was definitely smart for aiming for that 40 mile benchmark for their electric battery as it significantly tilts the math of the EPA’s calculations in their favor. And while the article does note that other manufacturers haven’t published the MPG ratings for their electric cars, Chevrolet still steals the show as being the first mainstream company associated with triple digit fuel efficiency.
GM has committed to begin mass production in November 2010 (i.e., 14 months (!) from now) for release as a 2011 year model. The company has said it’s aiming to price the Volt to be “less than $30,000 but first versions might be closer to $40,000.”