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Irony of the term ‘miles per gallon’

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Chevrolet made big waves this week with the announcement of the Volt, the electric car by General Motors — Government Motors if you are so inclined to label — has slated to be the crowning achievement of the post-bankruptcy company, and a delivery on the promise to make a leaner, meaner and more energy efficient machine.  

The Volt is a sporty looking car, with the aesthetics surpassing many of the other competitor cars in the electric and hybrid market.  The price is still higher than conventional cars, putting it out of the budget-restricted folk in the majority of the middle class, sitting at an estimated $40,000.  But unlike previous hybrid and electric announcements, there is one detail that stands out with this one the most.  With that detail, GM can use the Volt as a much needed jolt to its public image.

The Volt gets 230 mpg.

While that number sounds high, there are many things to take into consideration.  How can you claim a hybrid or electric vehicle gets 200mpg or even 10mpg?  The engine or whatever other propulsion unit in the car is using electricity from a battery, and in some cases won’t tap into the gasoline at all if the trips are a certain length and the car is drawing its power only from the battery units.  

Hybrids like the Prius that have been established cars for years also don’t get the same mileage as the companies claim, and that’s largely due to the varying methods and styles of driving: from those with lead feet to highway drivers, to those only using the vehicle to navigate through the city.  Many factors play into total mpg, and the numbers can be misleading.

But one thing is true, the Volt has drawn a lot of attention and has put GM in a much needed positive spotlight.

Rob @ August 13, 2009

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