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Chevy Volt Gas Mileage & $750 in Gas Money

Recently the Chevy Volt community has been able to piece together several important pieces of information on the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.  First is that the gas tank on the Volt is 9.3 gallons, second is that the estimated range on gasoline along is 300 miles.  With this, we can pin down – in average driving conditions what sort of MPG’s you should expect to get after you’ve run down your 40 miles of electric driving on the battery alone.  300 / 9.3 = about 32.5 miles per gallon.  This is very similar to what I’ve observed when I visited Detroit based on the internal gasoline efficiency model in the Volt itself.

You should, however take into consideration a number of other factors before settling on the 32.5 MPG number.  Assuming we believe the 9.3 gallon number is true, the other number – namely 300 miles on gasoline alone, is of course a prediction, and model.  What that model is based on (aggressive or passive driving or somewhere in the middle) will greatly affect the true range.  Pun intended – your mileage will vary.  Given that GM has been trying to push this as a mass market vehicle – and that most engineers prefer conservative prediction models (you don’t want to tell your customer they have 100 miles of range left only to find out they actually only have 50) the true range most drivers will get will likely surprise on the upside.  If you are a hypermiler, you can probably do a lot better than the rest of us leadfoots.

Interestingly enough – once the Volt is out you’ll be able to find out just how bad a gas waster you are as a driver – as the Onstar / Volt portal will provide data aggregation and benchmarking to show other Volt users and the types of mileage they are getting.  In laymans terms, you will be able to compare your driving habits and efficiency to others for ultimate green bragging rights. 

Of course, many people have aptly stated that indeed the “Charge Sustaining MPGs”  Or basically how much gas you have to burn after your battery is depleted matters less in a vehicle like the Volt – as most of your daily driving will likely not need to dip into the gasoline tank.

To illustrate this point – I’ve done a fun little exercise and model to show you how far one might expect to go on $750 in gas money.  Why $750?  Well it just so happens that I got lucky enough to win $750 in gasoline money in a drawing at the Dublin Chevrolet Volt/Cruze Open House.  Rather than spending it immediately, I decided to save it for when I get my Volt and see how far it would take me.

How far can you go on $750 in Gas

-On an average weekday, I will drive roughly 10-20 miles / day, which means no gas burned.  Huzzah!

-Most Weekends I will drive one day of 30-40 Miles and another day of 60 Miles.

-Once a Month I will drive about 120 Miles in a day.

-Once a year, I will take an extended road trip.  (About 500 Miles gasoline based)

So basically, every weekend I should expect to need 20 miles of driving on gasoline.  Once a month I’ll need 80 miles of driving on gasoline.  This means about 160 miles / month of gasoline based driving.  Ultimately this means about 2000 miles of gasoline based driving + my 500 mile annual road trip.  Let’s call it 2500 miles of gasoline based driving each year.  At 32.5 MPG, that’s 76.92 Gallons per Year.

At $4 per gallon of gasoline, (My guess for the coming years) that’s $307 per year – so that means that $750 will get me about 2.5 years of gasoline.  Good thing I won $750 instead of “A Year’s Supply of Gasoline!”

What do you expect to spend on gas with a Volt?

5 Responses to “Chevy Volt Gas Mileage & $750 in Gas Money”

  1. Jeff N says:

    Typical weekday: 25 miles

    Typical weekend: sometimes a 20 mile trip & sometimes 100 mile trip

    Typical year: four 200 mile trips, three 1000 mile trips (multiple recharges)

    Overall, I’m guessing I will do about 13,000 miles per year with about 8,500 of that electric and 4,500 gas. That works out to 66% at first and with more chargers at destination points I can probably increase that to 75% later on.

    However, I’m thinking that 32.5mpg in Charge Sustaining mode is pessimistic. The sources for this number have either been projections based on the GM 300 mile range with the 9.3 gallon tank, sample Volt display screen images, and elusive sightings of actual gas consumption screens on early test vehicles. The 300 mile range may be a conservative lower-end estimate. All of the sample display images and user tests reports I am aware of have been in conditions in which the Volt has operated on battery for about 40 miles and then operated on gas from an initially cold engine for only 6-10 miles. Anyone familiar with the Prius mileage histogram display knows that it invariably reports an average of about 25mpg for the first 5 minutes of driving on a cold engine. Based on all of the various things I’ve seen, I’m guessing that around 40mpg is a more likely EPA combined Volt mileage average on a warm engine.

    We will know better in a few weeks from the Volt Advisory Board members when they start reporting their real-world mileage numbers although they may be a bit on the low side since colder weather will have settled into many parts of the country by then thereby skewing the numbers lower (as for all cars).

  2. no comment says:

    i’ve significantly cut back on my driving in recent months; i’m probably under 10,000 miles/year now. i generally don’t drive during the week as these days i take commuter trains to and from work in the city, and i live close enough to the nearest train station that i usually walk (it’s my primary form of exercise). i run errands generally on weekends, so i suspect that i would be able run in EV mode almost all the time. what is significant to me, though, is that the EREV aspect allows me to drive into the city on weekends, which would typically involve 75 miles or more.

    chevrolet marketing promotes the EV aspect of the volt as representing “freedom” but i think that they have it backwards; it is the IC generator that provides the freedom: without it, the volt would be a very limiting vehicle – limited by the hoped-for range of the battery. when i run errands, it can sometimes take me to several suburbs and i like to have the freedom to make impromptu diversions to places that i hadn’t planned when i left home. if i had a limited range BEV, i would have to plan out my trips and if i wanted to make an unplanned excursion, i would invariably worry about whether i had enough range; in other words, i would have “range anxiety”. even though, i rarely expect to drive more than 40 miles at a time, it is important for me to be able to go where i want, when i want, even if range concerns are rare. i think that the driving profile that you have described is a perfect example of why the volt EREV concept is the most practical one for the current environment.

    as to how chevrolet is quoting specs: i tend to think that they are conservative in how they are citing their specs; but i suspect that some other companies are more optimistic. for example, i suspect that nissan is a lot more optimistic about how they are quoting specs for the leaf; the fact that they put nowhere near as much effort into the battery thermal control system that chevrolet did lead me to have a lot less confidence in the figures that nissan is quoting than i do in the figures that chevrolet is quoting.

  3. Fred says:

    Patrick, do you win every contest that you enter? You should play the lottery if you aren’t already. :)

  4. mbepic says:

    I have to say that 32.5mpg is a little disappointing for me, who plans to drive his Volt from Southern Ontario to Phoenix, AZ once or twice a year and back again. That is not much better than my current PT Cruiser.

    I fully expected that the REGEN engine would achieve much better mileage than that!

    Makes the price of the Volt seem a little ridiculous if you are going to use it for longer multi-day trips where electric charging may not be possible in ‘todays’ world.

    It is hard to believe that GM could not have done better in that respect; it appears that they have taken a REGEN engine ‘off the shelf’, given it secondary priority and focused everything on the short drive commuter. A Nissan LEAF would be better for that purpose.

    Oh well…………..the jury is still out on my plans!

  5. AJ says:

    I’ll have to say that owning a volt is a experience and an experiment at the same time. I’m enjoying my experiment. I can drive the volt for 1.57 about 45 miles. I have 2013 model and am quite pleased so far. I thought I was going to buy another Prius but, after looking at the styling and driving one I’m glad I stepped up to the Volt. Better ride, the doors close like a luxury car and it looks better than a Prius.
    On the down side – I think the Prius has better cargo and passenger space. However, on my daily commute it is not a issue as the Volt has more than enough space and I’d rather have the upscale look of the Volt inside and out. As for the mileage… Volt beats Prius on a short daily commute. Not sure that the cost for a 500 mile trip will be better though. More on that later.

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