American Auto Good News


The following news item caught my eye this morning:

Chevy Volt to get 230 mpg rating

Ultra-high mileage for GM’s electric-drive Volt could give it a marketing boost.

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer
Last Updated: August 11, 2009: 8:42 AM ET

NEW YORK ( — The Chevrolet Volt, GM’s electric car that’s expected to go on sale in late 2010, is projected to get an estimated 230 miles per gallon, the automaker announced Tuesday.

That exceptionally high government mileage rating could give the Volt a major boost. For the first time, car buyers will easily be able to compare electric cars with ordinary gas-powered cars.

“Having a car that gets triple-digit fuel economy can and will be a game changer for us,” said GM CEO Fritz Henderson.

Determining fuel economy for an electric car is a tricky matter, and General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) has been working with the Environmental Protection Agency for years on the issue…

The Chevrolet Volt, on other hand, runs on electricity that comes from two sources — a battery as well as a gasoline engine. How much is generated by burning gasoline depends on how far the car is driven.

The Volt’s lithium-ion batteries will hold enough juice to drive the car for about 40 miles, GM has said. Once the car goes beyond that, a small gasoline engine will turn on, generating electricity to power the wheels for longer drives.

When gasoline is providing the power, the Volt might get as much as 50 mpg.

But that mpg figure would not take into account that the car has already gone 40 miles with no gas at all.

So let’s say the car is driven 50 miles in a day. For the first 40 miles, no gas is used and during the last 10 miles, 0.2 gallons are used. That’s the equivalent of 250 miles per gallon. But, if the driver continues on to 80 miles, total fuel economy would drop to about 100 mpg. And if the driver goes 300 miles, the fuel economy would be a just 62.5 mpg.

The EPA rating for the Volt is based on a draft report and applies to city driving.

GM started pre-production of the car in June is making about 10 a month. “Volt is becoming very real, very fast,” Henderson said.

Other manufacturers, including Ford (F, Fortune 500) and Nissan, are expected to have electric-only cars hitting the market around the same time as GM. Those vehicles are expected to have a range of 100 miles on a fully charged battery. But these cars won’t have an on-board gas generator and must be recharged to drive farther.

After reporting a lot of negative news, I was pleased to be able to report something that appears positive for the US automakers and the economy.

This in no way changes my long-term outlook on the USA economy, but instead is consistent with my long-standing position that the USA economy would have some ups as well as many downs until the end.  But being from Michigan originally, I do appreciate hearing positive information related to the American auto industry.

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