Study says Chevrolet Volt is cheaper to drive than the Prius in less than 70 miles trips

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 20, 2011

Ever since the details of both Toyota’s Prius Plug-in Hybrid and the Chevrolet Volt have been revealed, comparisons between them have been made. What consumers want to determine is whether to prioritize electric driving range or total vehicle fuel efficiency. According to’s AutoObserver, the Prius PHEV has a CO2 emissions rating that permits it to drive in the HOV lane in California but the Volt fails to reach this level.

On the other hand, Volt owners receive the full federal tax credit of $7,500 due to the bigger battery pack, but Prius PHEV buyers get the smaller amount of just $2,500.

After tax credits are taken into account, the Prius costs about $2,000 lower. Consumers will be looking at the Volt’s EPA-estimated 35 miles of electric range and at the Prius’ 49 total MPG in hybrid mode.

It has to be considered that at 37 MPG after the batteries lose their charge, the Volt can’t be comparable to a Hummer or Escalade. On the other hand, the Prius PHEV offers 14 miles of electric range and is far more silent than the original Prius.

As to the question on which vehicle will cost higher to drive depending on the distance driven between charges, the Volt’s bigger battery makes it less expensive to operate as long as you drive 70 miles or less between charges. This is assuming that gas costs $3.50 and electricity is at 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. However, the Prius PHEV become cheaper to operate at distances of more than 70 miles because of its higher fuel economy.

Chevrolet Voltec propulsion system serves as the core of the new Chevrolet Volt, combining a pure electric drive unit and a range-extending engine for excellent range of 350 miles max. This advanced, 111-kW (149-hp) electric drive unit is powered by a 5.5-foot, 435-pound (198.1 kg) T-shaped 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, allowing the new Chevrolet Volt to travel emissions-free on pure electric for between 25 and 50 miles.

This electric driving range may vary according to terrain and driving techniques, as well as temperature. This Chevrolet Volt battery has been designed to be safe, durable and reliable while delivering value and performance. In fact, it comes with an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty. As further proof of these attributes, these battery packs – as well as nine modules and 288 prismatic cells of each pack -- have undergone over one million miles and four million hours of validation testing.

Moreover, Chevrolet’s development, validation and test teams have already met thousands of specifications and have even managed to validate each of the battery's 161 components, around 95 percent of which were designed and engineered by GM.

If a trip requires a distance that may deplete the energy of the battery, a 1.4L 63-kW (84-hp) gasoline-powered onboard engine will seamlessly kick in to provide power to the electric drive unit thereby extending the Volt’s range by another 310 miles.

Micky Bly, GM executive director for global electrical systems, remarked that just as Chevrolet’s customers are committed to technology that helps cut dependence on petroleum, the carmaker is also committed to delivering the highest standards of value, safety and quality, as well as performance and reliability.

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