Tuesday, October 7, 2014

GM’s Volt Greenwashing

Interesting how GM uses the wrong MPG to calculate the gallons of gasoline saved by motorists driving the Volt in the E mode.  GM says “fuel saved is based on an approved formula” (see the bottom right of the image above).

Do not fret that the revolts were driving on gasoline in reverse.  The total mile counter got stuck at 999,999,999 and could not go to 1,000,000,000.  Like I said before the “approved formula” yields 19.223 GPM when in fact the Volt would have attained 37 MPG on gasoline.

But wait the whole greenwashing is far more sinister.  Had the Volt been a simple hybrid and not a plug in, it could have shed 15 kwh of its 16 kwh battery pack and over 300 pounds and may have attained the MPG of a Prius which is 50 MPG.  The gallons really saved by a thermodynamically approved formula should be against a Prius, the real alternative to a Volt, and not some unapproved gangrene SUV that only gets 19.223 MPG.

At 50 MPG the 626,868,495 miles driven on electricity saved only 12,537,370 gallons.  I have been informed that the new well to wheels data (due to more US shale oil in our mix) is only 22.5 pounds CO2 per gallon.  Hence only 141,045 short tons of CO2 were saved if all the EV miles were powered on zero emissions wind or PV power.  

From insideevs.com I calculated that 69,092 Volts have been sold in the USA since their introduction in December 2010.  The weighted average age of all these Volts is 19 months.   We the taxpayers have given Volt owners $518,190,000 in subsidies so far.  If the Volts last on average 96 months before they revolt or retire, and if the drivers drive the same amount each month going forward, 712,649 tons of CO2 will be saved if all power for the volt has zero emissions.   Dividing $518,190,000 by 712,649 tons the carbon tax to us for this revolting policy has been $727 per short ton of CO2.  This has been a bloody ridiculous proposition.  $727 per short ton is a very high carbon tax and we know the electrons for the all the Volts did not come 100% from zero emissions sources.  

If one calculates the primary power (473 kwh per kwh stored) needed for the fabrication of the 15 kwh of extra batteries in the 69,092 Volts this equals over 490 million kwh of primary power.  At 1.2 pounds of CO2 per kwh the primary power for the unneeded batteries emitted 294,124 short tons of CO2.  This reduces the net CO2 savings even if all the Volts were powered on zero emissions electricity to only 418,523 tons of CO2 saved.  Dividing the $518,190,000 by these reduced tons of CO2 implies a carbon tax of $1,238.  This is the true level of waste of tax payers’ money and scarce lithium for the misguided policy the Obama administrations has promoted in giving Volt owners $7,500 each.  


  1. Good posting. I will save this data to refute climate alarmists claims of carbon dioxide savings due to EVs.

    James H. Rust, Professor

  2. Prof Rust the EV like the leaf used in Seattle with a green grid and driven many thousand of miles a year will be green. The Volt driven only 7,000 miles a year and 5,000 on E power is not a green option

  3. I wonder if the subsidy paid to the Volt owners is the end of it? I would be surprised if there were not other substantial grants paid to GM. And as you note the manufacturing process would not have been zero emissions. I toured the largest solar panel manufacturer in the world earlier this year in China. All coal fired.


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