General Motors is claiming that the Chevrolet Volt hybrid vehicle can be expected to achieve 230 miles per gallon when used mostly in city traffic. The Volt is a hybrid vehicle that has a 40 mile range on electric power when the battery is fully charged along with a small internal combustion engine that acts as a range extender for the battery once the 40 mile electric only limit is reached.
It should also be noted that the Volt will consume approximately 25 kilowatt hours for every 100 miles. My local utility charges 12.76 cents per kilowatt hour which translates to $3.19 per 100 miles.
40 Mile vs. 249 Mile Electric-Only Range
While the claim of 230 miles per gallon seems impressive, BYD previously announced an electric-only vehicle that is reported to have an electric-only range far in excess of 40 miles. I wrote about the BYD e6 electric car in early May. The e6 has a 249 mile range on a full charge and can achieve a 50% charge in only ten minutes. The e6 consumes 29 kilowatt hours per 100 miles but appears to be a larger vehicle than the Volt.
From what we know of the Volt and the e6, GM and BYD have come up with very different approaches. The advantage of the Volt is that the internal combustion engine offers range extension without a recharge of the battery which is essential given the low 40 mile electric-only range of the Volt. The advantage of the e6 is a very long electric only range coupled with the ability to achieve a 50% recharge in only ten minutes. The disadvantage of the e6 is that drivers would be dependent on a recharge station once the 249 mile full charge range is exhausted.
Let the Market Decide…
It is surprising that very few comparisons have been made between these two very different approaches. With BYD planning to introduce their vehicles to the United States market within a couple of years, we will soon learn which approach consumers prefer. Hopefully competition will determine the outcome rather than government interference based on the Federal Government’s majority ownership of General Motors.
The following video is a brief account of GM’s announcement today regarding the Volt’s estimated fuel efficiency.
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Disclosure: The author owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway which has an investment in BYD stock.