EPA on Fuel Economy – Chevy Volt to Face Glitch

  • Date: November 29, 2010
  • Source: Admin
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Commercial production of Chevrolet Volt has commenced at the Detroit plant of General Motors. These cars are intended for sale or lease to consumers. But the actual sale has to wait – until the issue concerning the EPA fuel economy label is resolved, that is.
In the US, it is illegal to launch a new car without the EPA fuel economy label. In the case of Volt, the government is unable to gauge the fuel economy, making it impossible for GM dealers to sell the car. According to a GM spokesman, the company is working with the EPA on the issue and discussions have been fruitful so far. He is confident that the problem will be resolved by mid-December and GM can commence sale of the vehicle by the year-end. But this is easier said than done.
In August 2009, GM held a press conference at its Detroit headquarters announcing that the Volt was expected to get an EPA-estimated 230 miles per gallon. However this estimate cannot hold true all the time. The Volt's fuel economy varies enormously depending on how far it is driven between charges. For instance, a recent test drive of about 230 miles from Washington D.C. to New York City showed the Volt getting about 37 miles per gallon. However, if the trip had been a typical round trip commute of less than 40 miles the car would have consumed no gasoline at all. This means the car will have given infinite miles per gallon. For trips ranging from 50, 60 to 150 miles, the car's actual fuel economy could be anywhere from thousands of miles per gallon to 35 or 40 mpg it seems to get, if its battery is not charged at all.
An EPA spokesperson refused to comment on the matter beyond confirming that GM cannot begin selling the Volt until this issue is resolved. 
Environmental law
The Nissan LEAF, another hybrid car that faced similar problems with the EPA was recently granted a final fuel economy window sticker by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The label, based on the EPA 5-cycle testing procedures that all vehicles are subjected to, will tell consumers that the LEAF gets 99 miles per gallon-equivalent (MPGe), can go 73 miles on one charge, takes 7 hours to fully charge and releases zero grams of carbon dioxide per mile. The 99 MPGe rating projects the LEAF as the best-in-class for midsize vehicles. As readers may be aware, an electric car's range will vary greatly depending on driving style. Hence indicating a figure as an average does not really capture the reality. All along Nissan has said that the LEAF will average 100 miles per charge but that range can vary from 40 to 140 miles depending on conditions. However, the EPA label will state that the LEAF only goes 73 miles per charge. The final label took a long time to arrive, but Nissan is just relieved to have it all the same.


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