General Motors announced today that the 2011 Chevrolet Volt was rated by EPA at 93 mpg. According to the manufacturer, powered only by the gasoline engine, the car delivers 37 mpg, while running on a combination of electricity and gasoline the Volt delivers the equivalent of 60 mpg. In addition, EPA said that the 2011 Volt has a total range of 35 miles when running only on electricity, while then using also the gasoline engine, it has an impressive range of 379 miles.
“We have said that the range is variable on how you drive,” said Doug Parks, GM's vehicle line executive in charge of the Volt.
The bad news is that the Chevrolet Volt enters the EPA compact vehicle segment, which means that its main rivals will be cars such as the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Toyota Corolla. Still, the Chevrolet Volt was overtaken by the 2011 Nissan LEAF, which was rated at 99 mpg.
General Motors, in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, designed a new label in order to ensure that consumers know what to expect once they get to drive a Volt. This is because the Volt is unlike any car before it.
In the past, computing the fuel economy of a car involved filling-up the tank with fuel, driving it, then dividing the distance with the amount of fuel that was consumed. Even if electric cars do not have any tailpipe emissions, they still use energy.
Thus the MPG equivalent, or MPGe, can be determined by simply measuring the electricity that was used and then converting it to energy content similar to a gallon of gasoline. With the MPGe ratings, consumers were able to compare how efficient the Volt was compared to other cars in the same segment.
The Volt itself has two sources of energy. The first is electricity obtained from the grid and the second is the gasoline. The mixture of the two will depend on how far the consumer expects to drive and how often the battery is expected to be charged.
Thus despite being a complex vehicle, the Volt is one that is easy to use. Further, though the new fuel economy label may also be complex, it contains more information compared to the EPA label that was used in the past.