Saturday, October 4, 2014

Volts Go A Billion Miles And Cost Us A Lot

I read insideevs dot com yesterday.   This is a great site for news on plug in vehicles.   The article that caught my attention was the one on Chev Volts having been driven one billion miles.  This is quite a milestone so to speak.

Quoting directly from the article:

“It’s official: Chevy Volt owners have collectively driven more than 1 billion miles!!!
Of those 1 billion miles, nearly 625 million were driven electrically.
As for gas savings, General Motors claims that Volt owners have saved over 32.5 million gallons of fuel.
Think over those figures for just a moment…
According to the data (collected directly from the vehicles via OnStar), nearly 62.5% of the total 1 billion miles were driven on battery power alone.
The ~32.5 million gallons of gas saved equates to ~$119,990,000 (average current cost of premium gas in U.S. @ $3.692 per gallon) not spent on fuel.
Honestly, only one word comes to mind… WOW!!!”

OK now for a bit of truth.   GM claims 625 million miles on gasoline would have used 32.5 million gallons.  This is 19.23 MPG.   But the Volt actually gets 37 MPG when fired on Gasoline

The real gasoline saving by driving the volts the 625 miles on electric power is only 16.891 million gallons or approximately half of what GM claimed.  Where GM picked the 19.23 MPG out of the air is unknown to me, but is another case of corporate greenwashing.

The Volt needs 0.35 kwh per mile of DC power.  This is approximately equal to 0.45 kwh per mile of AC power at the power station.   The grid average emissions in the USA are approximately 1.2 pounds per kwh.  Hence the Volt on electric power emits 0.54 pounds of CO2 per mile.   Had the Volt run on gasoline at 37 MPG and 25 pounds of CO2 well to wheels emissions for gasoline the emission of CO2 per mile on gasoline would have been 0.67 pounds.  The electric mode therefore saved 0.13 pounds per mile.   Multiplying by 625 million miles driven by the Volts we have 81.25 million pounds of CO2 saved.  This is 40,625 tons of CO2 saved. 

Now the zinger.  The US government gives $7,500 to each owner of the Volt.    Approximately 68,000 Volts have been sold since their introduction.  So far approximately $510 million has been given by Uncle Sam to save the 40,625 tons.   Of course I know many more billions of miles will be driven in the Volts we have subsidized.  Let’s assume the 68,000 Volts each travel another 50,000 miles each on electricity till they revolt and die.  This is another 3.4 billion miles and a further 221,000 tons of CO2 saved.  Dividing $510 million by 261,625 tons we get a cost to taxpayers of $1,949 per ton of CO2 saved.   For comparison in Europe one can buy a CO2 offset for approximately $8 per short ton of CO2.   I guess the Department of Entropy thinks GM volts are worth subsidizing for 240 times their real value.  If I had Dr. Moniz’s job the subsidy to Volt owners for buying the Volt would be only $30.86 which equals the true value of CO2 emissions saved.


  1. Nice commentary. The value of $8 per ton on CO-2 is based on its having a negative impact on the planet. This is a fake number because CO-2 is an airborne fertilizer that increases plant growth and makes plants more drought resistant. Thus CO-2 emissions are positive in reality.

    James H. Rust

  2. As they say one man's food is another man's poison. An old proverb but poison like food should not cost $1,950 when it is sold in a free market at only $8

  3. Amen - either way, its not a good investment of our precious tax dollars.


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