NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Volt Fraud at Government Motors

October 27, 2010

GM's Chevy Volt, advertised as an all-electric car that could drive 50 miles on its lithium battery, addressed concerns about where you plug the thing in en route to grandma's house by adding a small gasoline engine to help maintain the charge on the battery as it starts to run down.  It is still an electric car, we were told, and not a hybrid on steroids.  But that's not quite true, says Investor's Business Daily.

  • The gasoline engine has been found to be more than a range-extender for the battery.
  • Volt engineers are now admitting that when the vehicle's lithium-ion battery pack runs down and at speeds near or above 70 miles per hour (mph), the Volt's gasoline engine will directly drive the front wheels along with the electric motors.
  • That's not charging the battery -- that's driving the car.

So it's not an all-electric car, but rather a pricey $41,000 hybrid that requires a taxpayer-funded $7,500 subsidy to get car shoppers to look at it.  But isn't a car that gets 230 miles per gallon of gas (as former GM CEO Fritz Henderson claims) worth it?

  • Popular Mechanics found the Volt to get about 37.5 miles per gallon in city driving.
  • Motor Trend reports: "Without any plugging in, (a weeklong trip to Grandma's house) should return fuel economy in the high 30s to low 40s."
  • Car and Driver reported that "getting on the nearest highway and commuting with the 80 mph flow of traffic -- basically the worst-case scenario -- yielded 26 miles; a fairly spirited backroad loop netted 31; and a carefully modulated cruise below 60 mph pushed the figure into the upper 30s."

Then there's the issue of asking grandma to use her electricity for the three or four hours necessary to recharge your car so you can get home to charge it again.  Where's the electricity going to come from considering that solar and wind don't work when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow?

Source: "Volt Fraud at Government Motors," Investor's Business Daily, October 19, 2010.

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