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The significance of GM's Chevy Volt
How impressed should you be by the mileage figure of an electric car?
 

"It's official," said Jamie Lendino in PC Magazine. General Motors' new Chevy Volt, which goes on sale next year as a 2011 model, "is expected to get 230 miles per gallon on the EPA's city fuel economy test." That's because on short trips the GM Volt will be able to operate only on battery power, and even when using gas power on longer trips, it will end up squeezing out more miles per gallon than Toyota's current mileage king, the Prius.

The Chevy Volt's 230 mpg would be "by far the highest fuel efficiency rating of any car now rated by the Environmental Protection Agency," said Martin Zimmerman in the Los Angeles Times. The Prius gets 50 mpg—and it's way ahead of most of the pack. The GM Volt's trick is that it is "designed to run on electric power only for about 40 miles, after which a small gasoline engine kicks in to re-charge the battery."

It's unfair to compare miles per gallon figures when you're talking about an electric car, said Brian White in Blogging Stocks. The makers of the Chevy Volt hope that by using a figure on everybody's mind—miles per gallon—they can get some attention and rally people around their new technology. But the real question yet to be answered is whether a quadrupling of fuel efficiency will get people to spend twice as much on a GM Volt ($40,000) than they would pay for a Prius, even though the Volt runs on "unproven technology."

 

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