• Aug 12th 2009 at 2:31PM
  • 59
GM CEO Fritz Henderson was all smiles when he announced the Chevy Volt's 230 mpg city rating yesterday. But the Internet digested the news in its own way, and there was some understandable confusion and criticism of the very big, very bold mpg claim. While the EPA put a damper on GM's numbers, that was mostly a way to say that it's too early to tell. GM representatives made it clear that they don't see the 230 number as unrealistic or setting Volt fans up for disappointment when the agency finally gets to test actual vehicles sometime next year. However, others were less diplomatic.

Darryl Siry, EV aficionado and former CMO at Tesla, was quick to call the 230 number "unrealistic," adding that, "the problem is that anytime you try to get to 'miles per gallon' using vehicles that don't necessary use 'gallons' you end up in a very strange debate with very strange outcomes." Indeed. Siry made sure to say that it's the EPA method (still in development, and one we don't know much about yet) and not only GM that's to blame here.

Over on What is 230?, someone who claims to be a "GM employee who works directly with people who work on the Volt" wrote in to say that the number is a "mis-leading gimmick of a marketing tactic."

In the least surprising response, Bob Lutz has nothing but good stuff to say about the 230 campaign and the rating. He says the hype was made "For one simple reason: We're proud of it."

[Source: Darryl Siry, What is 230?]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      In the least surprising response, Bob Lutz has nothing but good stuff to say about the 230 campaign and the rating. He says the hype was made "For one simple reason: We're proud of it."
      It's a hands down publicity win, no matter how you slice it. "Chevy Volt" got a lot of searches, tags, website hits, overall buzz, etc.--even thanks to those who decried the 230 mpg figure. At the very least, a heck of a lot more people are familiar with how the Volt works.

      Epic succeed, GM, Epic succeed.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Except for the fact that no one can buy one. Not for at least a year, maybe. The buzz should be generated when people who want to bust the door down to get one can. Hits today are utterly useless next year (or later) when other competing products may do even better.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Luis: Brand awareness, Luis. You WILL be able to buy a Volt someday, just like one 'would be able' to buy a Camaro someday...back in 2006. It's why Jack-In-The-Box advertises nationally even though they're still largely a West Coast fast-food chain: They've got real plans on expansion. So when a JITB finally makes its way to Mobile, AL, folks will have heard of the place.
        • 6 Years Ago
        True UltimoDragon,
        It was a success. I measure advertising success when my wife brings it up...this morning she text'd me "did you here the Volt gets 230mpg's?" lol

        But that's all BS unless they can deliver what they claim and more (ie cut co$t). Yes people will remember but they will ask "oh, isn't that that car that gets 230mpg's?" and the someone will/might tell them "nope, it was supposed to, but it only gets 40mpgs and has an electric only mode of 50 miles if you stay under 60mph on a full charge"...then they will go on to say (maybe) "I would rather get the prius plug-in that's coming out in two months because its just as good and has proven reliability because Toyota has been making hybrids for 10 years AND the new plug-in prius is about $10k or 25% cheaper than the Volt"

        But really, the last i heard/read was that GM is only planning on selling 10,000 Volts in the first year so meeting that goal shouldn't be hard... but they also will not make enough profit off the Volt in the first 5 years to pay for the last 2 years marketing campaigns

      • 6 Years Ago
      In the end it doesn't matter. It is still a $40000 version Chevy Cobalt replacement (AKA Cruze).

      Only people with more money than brains will buy into a $40K econobox with a very dubious 230mpg rating. These are the same folks that will be up in arms after they get 40mpg on their first vacation road trip.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Nissan pissed their knickers forcing them to drag out a "Leaf". Had I been Nissan I would have swept that "Leaf" into a trash bag and placed it by the road for garbage pick-up.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That is a great way to measure highway fuel economy.

      Here's a good way to measre city economy:

      Drive it in the city. Whaddya know? The Volt is designed to be super efficient in the city, and most users will fill the car up when they buy it and never have to add gas. It will just be a backup power supply if long trips are necessary. That means it gets a zillion mpg if used like it was designed to. All you're paying for is electricity, which is much cheaper and much cleaner.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I find it funny that no-one ever factors in charging costs when looking at the effeciency of the Volt. Sure, if I drive less than 40 miles and fully recharge the battery before driving again, I won't use any gas and therefore get "infinite" MPG. But how much does it cost me to fully charge that giant battery pack overnight though? If that is adding $3 to my electricity bill, then that is the equivalent of buying a gallon of gas at the pump, which then makes this technology a waste of time unless gas prices go way up - the same way hybrids are best justified with much higher gas prices. I'm guessing (hoping) the cost to recharge would be a lot lower than that - anyone seen a quote for that?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I bet the method to get here goes something like this.

      EPA decied that they would calculate based on average trip distance and came to some number like 50mp"trip". The volt gets what 40 or 45 miles before needing gas so it used a fraction of a gallon for the remaining 5 or 10 miles. Based on that the gallon would last x amount of full trips. lets say the gallon lasted 5 trips. well 5 trips is 250miles and it used only 1 gallon of gas to achieve that...

      What do you guys think?

        • 6 Years Ago

        Real world Fuel Economy could be all over the place. Short enough trips between charges and you could get infinite MPG. Long road trips and your fuel economy would probably be much much lower.

        With a vehicle as such, MPG really doesnt apply.
        • 6 Years Ago
        What he said - with this sort of car, MPG doesn't apply. The EPA is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole so that average buyers have a handy comparison metric. But that metric doesn't work with this application nicely. It seems to me that they need to devise an alternate comparison tool to compliment MPG ratings. Something that reflects the energy required to operate a vehicle, from both converting fossil fuel and from tapping into the power grid.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Here's how to measure it.

      Fill up the tank.

      Charge up the battery.

      Run it until it stops.

      Miles / How much gas was in the tank.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Total MPG = 50xM/(M-40)

        M is trip distance in miles.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Is there any calculation in the EPA rating for how much "gas" it takes to produce a full charge of the batteries? just because you plug it in doesn't make it free energy. That 230 MPG number set my publiso-crap-o-meter off the scale. I like Jeff Johnson's idea and would even be willing to see it tweaked to allow for a full fuel tank, so that the "advantages" of a hybrid can show through.

      Is the volt going to be on 'sale' in 2010 or will it be an EV1-esque lease only vehicle?
      • 6 Years Ago

      If you fill up the 6-7 gallon tank you can expect to go 300-400 miles in on trip, as stated by GM.

      If you want to get 230mpg, you will have to drive in the city where trip distances are shorter.

      Ironically, this is why the EPA publishes city and highway fuel economy as two seperate numbers.

      Don't make this more complicated than it is.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I am not making anything complicated. GM is using smoke and mirrors to hide the real abilities of the car by not telling us one simple number:

        "Range extender mpg"

        Tell us that and we know everything we need to know. Instead we get some formula that would entail somewhere between 4 and 5 chargers of the battery and 1 gallon of gas to arrive at 230 miles. All completely arbitrary and content free. That doesn't tell us how much electricity was used or how many MPG the range extender achieved so we know nothing.

        So you latch on to anything someone unreliable like Lutz drops in an interview. Where does it say 6 Gallon tank. An engineer for GM said between 6 and 10 gallons. In the GM blog yesterday they said range of over three hundred miles. there is nothing concrete there either.

        The only real number GM has given us: Up to 40 miles EV range. Everything else is smoke and mirrors hype.
        • 6 Years Ago
        So if I drive in the city with a full charge I can drive 230 miles with only 1 gallon of as in the tank (without recharging)?

        For example a taxi Volt can do 250 miles a day (start, stop) in the city on 1 gallon of gas and a full charge?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Bullsh** GM coming out with this marketing bomb. I will never buy a GM
      • 6 Years Ago
      If I said I was an anonymous GM employee and said it will actually travel back in time would you believe me?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Of course I would believe you. I mean, you are a credible source who works at GM and is 'tight' with some of the developers of the Volt. I mean, obviously you would know, right?
        • 6 Years Ago
        @judy zik and anti-believer

        RIGHT ON! I COULDNT AGREE WITH YOU MORE. judy and anti, please enlighten these people, save them from the ever corrupt GM company. In the past, all they've done is mislead people into buying their "crappy" products and they have the odacity to do this again! Majority of americans are much smarter than you think, GM.
      • 6 Years Ago
      All I'm hearing is pissing and moaning from the other makers because they didn't expect this. GM knocked this one out of park, get over it and build something that's better than it. Bunch of titty babies I swear.
        • 6 Years Ago
        look its unrealistic because your millage will vary considerably. the best way to report this number is to list it as 2 numbers. one for total gas motor in mpg, the other for the electric motor using kWh. then its easier to tell what you are going to achieve.
        • 6 Years Ago


        GM is lying. 230 per gallon? Yeah right! We're talkiing about bunch a-hole who went bankrupt with gas guzzlers, all of sudden have a 230 per gallon engine.

        GM is full of sh!t.

        Martin, you're nothing but gulliable big breasted cheerleader!
        • 6 Years Ago
        The number is silly. I can't hop into a Volt and drive 460miles on just 2 gallons of gas. Therefore it is totally misleading. It also completely leaves out the cost of electricity. Leaving customers lost in more FUD on a product most of them already don't understand. Another great "Reinvention" except this time it is the truth they are reinventing. For a company desperate to earn back some credibility this is one of the dumbest moves every. Just wait till they hit the roads and the internet fills with people reporting on just how much gas a Volt actually uses on a 230 mile road trip. Then there will be the just how far a Volt actually goes on one gallon of gas. That picture of Fritz standing infront of the 230 sign is going to end up in the hall of blunders right beside the George W "Mission Accomplished" banner pic.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You sir, are a neanderthal. Surely, you cannot believe this claim? Then again, since you have the brain of a neanderthal, I shouldn't be surprised if you DID believe it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ mapoftazifosho

        We get it, you hate GM and the Volt. But for the love of God can you stop using the term vaporware? Vaporware refers to products that are promoted or marketed while they are still in development and that may never be produced. The Volt *is* coming. It will be released in 2010 as a 2011 model.

        Every car manufacturer promotes and markets cars in advance of their release. Remember when Mini came back in 2000? Before you could buy one, there was billboards, internet advertisements, promotions and all the rest trumping up the coming of the new Mini. Its called hype and every company with a product to sell uses it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Two things:

        First, GM has "plants" who are posting here. Guess who they are.

        Second, this is another example of why their ad agency, Campbell Ewald, is the worst in the US. Creating an entire campaign around a number that is virtually impossible to replicate and guaranteed to spark debate about GM's record of over-promising (again, C-E) is sheer marketing stupidity.

        I was excited about this car but now I'm just feeling like it's all bull***t.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Oh, So they're producing this car and I can go buy my Chevy Volt right now?

        The Volt could be a great car, but at this time it is nothing but vaporware...

        I am not proud to work for GM right now...
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