Thursday, July 29, 2010

Questions Remain About Chevy Volt

I am still personally mixed on the Chevy Volt. I want to like it because it is a big leap for GM going green and boosting the American auto industry. And the fact that it goes 40 miles to a charge and that most commuters don't go above that mileage in a day is encouraging.

But what I'm concerned about -- and the EPA as well -- is those drivers who commute long distances and switch from electric to the gas generator frequently. The EPA has yet to figure out a way to test the fuel efficiency of the Volt, but some people put the estimate at around 33 mpg once the gas generator kicks in.

If Volt owners commute a hundred miles a day and don't bother to charge the vehicle overnight, well then that isn't a very fuel-efficient vehicle.

I hope that most drivers will only use EV mode in the 40 mile range. But my preference at this point is for the 100% electric Nissan Leaf, Toyota's Plug-in Prius and CODA Automotive. Those car companies are hedging their bets that people will overcome "range anxiety" and that the charging infrastructure will be more available across America.

Plus the Leaf is $33,000 before tax breaks while GM just announced the Volt will sell for $41,000 before tax breaks. That $8,000 could make a big difference with consumers who want to go electric.

Also, the Leaf has a 100-mile charging range which is more appealing than the Volt's 40 miles for eco-minded consumers who don't want to ever pump gas into their vehicle.

Here are some videos of the Volt. Again, I hope it succeeds for all the jobs and optimism it is creating. But I fear it won't be competitive with the Leaf and other EVs on the market and that it won't be as green and fuel efficient as initially advertised. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

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