EPA mileage estimates can be such fuzzy things when you're dealing with hybrid powertrains. We've seen plenty of contention already about real-world results versus EPA numbers for current hybrids, and Chevrolet's upcoming Volt has GM butting heads with the Feds over how the series hybrid eFlex powertrain should be rated. Because the Volt can cover about 40 miles before it needs to fire its range-extending internal combustion engine, it can breeze through the EPA's test cycle with the engine off for 85 percent of the time. With the engine running so little, the Volt could earn an EPA rating above 100 mpg, but the agency is not comfortable with that and wants to change the test for the Volt.

GM argues that altering the test in the way the EPA proposes -- requiring the Volt finish the test with batteries near full charge -- is unfair and won't reflect reality. Moreover, in everyday commuting, the Volt will be an electric car for its first 40 miles, not ever even firing its engine for drivers with commutes short enough or recharging ability at work. The EPA's motivation is to come up with a meaningful mileage rating for the Volt, which will ace the current test. If the Volt gets a rating that is artificially low because the EPA can't figure out a test that correlates to reality, it could also hurt the Volt's case with consumers looking at the $40,000 price tag next to numbers barely better than what a diesel or parallel hybrid can earn.

[Source: Motor Trend]



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