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Old 08-11-2009, 09:55 AM   #1
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Dumb Chevy Volt Logo

Apart from the fact that MPG figure is meaningless for an electric car, tell me this logo



doesn't look like the car gets 23 MPG, and is embarrassed about it.

Story:

Chevrolet Volt's official fuel economy: 230 mpg - Aug. 11, 2009
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:58 AM   #2
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From the linked article:

Quote:
The company said it estimates it will need 10 kilowatt hours for the recharge necessary to travel 40 miles. That should cost a total of about 40 cents at off-peak electricity rates in Detroit, Henderson said.
Detroit pays FOUR CENTS for a kilowatt-hour? We're paying about 12 and that's one of the cheapest rates in the state. Then again, we don't have "peak" and "off-peak" rates here. So we'd pay more like $1.20 for a charge. Still, $1.20 for 40 miles is less than half the price of gas right now for our cars that get 30-35 MPG...
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:17 AM   #3
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I can't believe they are spotlighting that number!?!
They are setting up the causual consumer for massive dissapointment.
Using the same method, cars like either Tesla, the Leaf, Th!nk, etc get an infinite mpg rating.
And the 230mpg drops RAPIDLY if you drop more than 48-49 miles or if you drive more agressively than the epa testing method.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:30 AM   #4
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They are setting up the casual consumer for massive disappointment.
Well, unless he/she drives less than 40 miles per day (most do).
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:41 AM   #5
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I agree with you Al, most do on the average day.
The disapointment is going to come in when some people, or most people on the occasional day, go further than 50 miles between charges and find they are getting much less than 230 mpg.
I think the type of hybrid of the Volt is a huge improvement if you can't use a pure EV. But this type of marketing is setting it up to fail. I just hope we don't get a repeat of the EV1.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:43 AM   #6
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I just hope we don't get a repeat of the EV1.
We won't, assuming GM actually *sells* the Volt and not just lease it out to order them returned and destroyed when the lease expired. That was the fate of the EV1, despite the fact that many EV1 lessees wanted to buy the cars at the end.

The bigger concern is that the price tag will dwarf many years of fuel savings.
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:36 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Apart from the fact that MPG figure is meaningless for an electric car, tell me this logo

[LEFT]doesn't look like the car gets 23 MPG, and is embarrassed about it.
Oh my. Funny thing is (esp me being a "numbers" guy) - I focused on the cheezy "smiley face" outlet. That was bad enough! It wasn't until I read the next line about 23 versus 230. I agree completely. You couldn't come up with a worse logo if you tried.

yes, mpg for a plug in hybrid just isn't meaningful. What the EPA needs to do is turn it into "annual operating cost". Even that is tricky with the Volt, as it varies with your normal trip length. But they could include a few scenarios. This is going to be very confusing to a lot of people.

I saw some buzz about the Nissan "Leaf", a full electric last week. I need to see if it has been updated, but it sounded like they were saying the price would be "competitive" with similar sized ICE cars, but.... that didn't include the battery! They want to lease the batteries, something like $160/month? So if you put on 12,000 miles, it might work out to trading a gasoline payment for a battery lease payment (plus electricity) - which may not be too bad, really.

BTW, I think the Volt is doing all the right things regarding design (not logo design, obviously). But I don't know if it makes sense with current fuel and battery prices. There will be the early adopters - that might just carry us far enough until battery performance hits a sweeter spot.

My prediction of the VOLT evolution:

1) At some point, batteries gain 10% better performance - they can eliminate 10% of the batteries, along with cost and weight. Keep the ICE for > 40 miles as is.

2) keep along those lines, until batteries gain double the performance - they could offer a model with 50% of the batteries, OR a full electric with an 80 mile range.

3) Keep going until there is no need for the ICE for most people.

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Old 08-11-2009, 11:50 AM   #8
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We won't, assuming GM actually *sells* the Volt and not just lease it out to order them returned and destroyed when the lease expired. That was the fate of the EV1, despite the fact that many EV1 lessees wanted to buy the cars at the end.

The bigger concern is that the price tag will dwarf many years of fuel savings.
But they leased the EV1 because California made an artificial market for them (on the supply side) by requiring car mfgs to produce electric cars (2%?), or they could not sell *any* cars in CA.

So, GM had to sell them, even at a great loss so they didn't have to give up the rest of their market. I think the lease was to protect themselves - if they sold them at a price that enough people would buy them at (below their cost), they would probably strip them for parts. With the lease, they had control.

GM made a bad PR move by destroying them, but I don't think it was irrational. IMO, they got put into a lose-lose position by the CA government.

If there was so much demand for pure electrics (at true free market prices), I can't understand why they have not been hugely popular in Europe for years, with high petrol prices and generally shorter drives.

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Old 08-11-2009, 12:06 PM   #9
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I too saw the ad as 23 mpg. The outlet just seemed to be a useless graphic.

On these mixed beasts electric/gas/whatever I'd rather see a miles/$ figure. Could argue on how to include purchase costs lifecycle etc. Do think it is absurd to quote MPG figures.

For example with my car, 88 Jag depending on gas prices and some seasonal variations I get anywhere from 5.41 to 10.34 Miles/$. Typically running 8.4 Miles/$. This does not include my purchase or repair costs, which are way lower then any new car or service dept costs.

Flame proof clothing on!

Maybe pick an artificial average gas cost per gallon.
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:08 PM   #10
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n these mixed beasts electric/gas/whatever I'd rather see a miles/$ figure.
The problem is that this depends on driving habits as well as the price of gas and electricity (not to mention whether or not you have 'off-peak' pricing in electricity). So trying to create any kind of metric for economy is problematic for plug-in hybrids.
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:19 PM   #11
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So trying to create any kind of metric for economy is problematic for plug-in hybrids.
How about a 10 yr 50/50 mixed highway/city driving lifecycle cost to include average insurance/repair/purchase costs? There hast ot be some way to come up with a meaningful cost comparison.

Maybe a new field of personal transportation economics?
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:48 PM   #12
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It can't be done simply - but would this be "simple enough"? A table with daily trips city/hwy of (assume charging each night):

miles per day: 10 - 20 - 40 - 60 - 80 - 100 - sustained driving (no charge available)

with cost per mile for each? Assume some $ for gallon of gas, and some $ for a KWH.

I bet in most cases the differences are not so great for miles/day - if you regularly commute 40 miles/day, with occasional 100 mile day trips, the weighted average probably would barely move it (I think, didn't run it myself). And you could always do the math if needed.

That would seem to be good for comparison, an on-line calculator could do the averaging and let you enter specific KWH and gas costs.

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Old 08-11-2009, 03:04 PM   #13
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And don't forget $ for replacement batteries every 5 years or so.
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:14 PM   #14
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How are you going to judge that?
Shall we also include replacement of other items on the car?
Should we use your number of 5 years, or the actual averages of battery life? Or the estimates from the various car companies of lithium batteries?
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:19 PM   #15
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And don't forget $ for replacement batteries every 5 years or so.

I think this is a key point to be determined. On a regular hybrid, the battery is never allowed to fully charge or discharge and the temperature is carefully maintained using the AC system and computer controlled management (for heat). This strategy allows hybrid batteries to last a very long time. On a mostly electric car you would want to get a deeper discharge on the battery to get maximum mileage, which would seem to stress the battery more.

Coincidentally I was asked to do a survey by our local utility concerning a vehicle like the Volt with primary electric power with a small gas engine backup. The survey seemed to working hard to determine a price point for installing a 220v charger / controlling station in your garage. Although you could use a regular 110v system, the charging would take 8 hours or more. Also they want to incorporate a peak / off peak timer as well as the ability to remotely shut off the 220V power for up to an hour during very high demand periods. There would be discounts for each option.

The survey was also digging to figure out where people would want chargers located for an occasional on the road charge and how long people would be willing to wait for the charge to occur. One option was for a 3 hour charge and free wifi.
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:33 PM   #16
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MPG isn't entirely meaningless for an electric car. We know how much BTU is in a gallon of gas. That can be converted to KWh and then the comparison can be done.

Trying to change the standard (from MPG to MPK or MPD) would confuse the buyer even more.
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Old 08-11-2009, 06:53 PM   #17
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doesn't look like the car gets 23 MPG
Agreed...but what do you expect from a U.S. government operation?
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:40 PM   #18
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MPG isn't entirely meaningless for an electric car. We know how much BTU is in a gallon of gas. That can be converted to KWh and then the comparison can be done.
You are right, you can. But I'm not sure that tells anybody what they want to know.

http://www.evworld.com/library/energy_numbers.pdf

However, an electric motor uses a KWh of electricity much more efficiently than an ICE uses the same energy content in gasoline. So we can equalize KWHrs and gasoline energy content, but then what? Plus, do we need to back to the plant to see how much fuel *they* used to generate that KWHr? And that still leaves the variable of how much gas you use depending on how long your drive is (% of time on plug-in power). And since gasoline and electricity don't cost the same, and the prices change, what do we learn from it? I think it creates more problems than it solves.

I think people want to know what it is going to cost them to fuel the car for a month or year of driving, regardless of which fuel it used. And initial cost.

After that, maintenance pros/cons, battery replacement versus ICE maintenance, environmental (carbon emission/mile?) issues come into play.

And before that - emotion will come into play. Some people will just want one - because it is electric. Heck, I want one too, I think it would be cool. But for me, the numbers have to at least come close. I'm afraid I'll be waiting a while.

Here's a parallel: Hours of battery life on a laptop. There are many technical factors - the size of the battery, the efficiency of the laptop, the tasks one is doing, screen brightness etc. While it is far from perfect, I think the computer companies have developed some standard profiles, and rate hours of battery life on that. Not perfect but not bad for comparison shopping. If the consumer really wants 6 hours of battery life, they may not care much if it was done with efficiency or a larger battery or a combination - but they want their 6 hours. After that, if the laptop is too big (because of a huge battery), or the screen too small (to increase battery life), the consumer can weight those factors. But at least they got a battery life number that means something to them.

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Old 08-11-2009, 07:55 PM   #19
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I think people want to know what it is going to cost them to fuel the car for a month or year of driving, regardless of which fuel it used. And initial cost.
Of course people want that. It's not represented in the current MPG, though, for ANY car, whether hybrid or diesel or electric.

I think ConsumerReports lists the annual running cost.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:16 PM   #20
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Of course people want that. It's not represented in the current MPG, though, for ANY car, whether hybrid or diesel or electric.
Right again! But that is the problem. On a Science Friday podcast a while back, some EPA people were going through this exact issue - even they were saying that mpg is a lousy metric, it should be annual consumption for X thousand miles.

Diesels didn't used to be much of a problem - fuel was cheaper and they generally got better mpg. So at least they both moved in the same direction. But that is not the case any more.

But I think these plug-in hybrids really bring the issue to a head. Because you now have the added complexity of different fuels in the same car - and different % of each fuel depending on driving patterns and car designs (once a few of these come to market).

I hope the car cos do something before the consumer gets so confused by this that they think they are having the wool pulled over their eyes and just turn negative on the whole idea.

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