Volt Lacking Volts?
After receiving an email recently, concerning the first returned readings of Chevrolet’s Volt after a year, I decided to run the numbers myself, and compare it to other competitors.
The email read:
“Cost to operate a Chevy Volt
Eric Bolling (Fox Business Channel’s Follow the Money) test drove the Chevy Volt at the invitation of General Motors.
For four days in a row, the fully charged battery lasted only 25 miles before the Volt switched to the reserve gasoline engine.
Eric calculated the car got 30 mpg including the 25 miles it ran on the battery. So, the range including the 9 gallon gas tank and the 16 kwh battery is approximately 270 miles. It will take you 4 1/2 hours to drive 270 miles at 60 mph. Then add 10 hours to charge the battery and you have a total trip time of 14.5 hours. In a typical road trip your average speed (including charging time) would be 20 mph.
According to General Motors, the Volt battery hold 16 kwh of electricity.. It takes a full 10 hours to charge a drained battery.
The cost for the electricity to charge the Volt is never mentioned so I looked up what I pay for electricity.
I pay approximately (it varies with amount used and the seasons) $1.16 per kwh.
16 kwh x $1.16 per kwh = $18.56 to charge the battery.
$18.56 per charge divided by 25 miles = $0.74 per mile to operate the Volt using the battery.
Compare this to a similar size car with a gasoline engine only that gets 32 mpg.
$3.19 per gallon divided by 32 mpg = $0.10 per mile.
The gasoline powered car cost about $15,000 while the Volt costs $46,000.”
From the start, this comparison is heavily influenced by the region of where you live. Gas prices and electricity usage costs vary depending on location. But to show an easy breakdown of costs for those living near North Augusta, South Carolina, I have completed the math below.
2012 Chevrolet Volt MSRP: $31,645
16kwh x $0.12 per kwh = $1.92 to charge the battery.
$1.92 per charge divided by 25 miles = $0.077 per mile under battery
270 miles under gasoline range extender divided by a 9 gallon fuel tank = 30mpg
$3.63 per gallon divided by 30mpg = $0.12 per mile under gasoline
9 gallons at $3.63 = $32.67
$34.59 divided by 295 miles = $0.117 per mile
Average US Yearly mileage of 14,000 = $1,638.00
2012 3rd Generation Toyota Prius MSRP: $24,000
Averages 50 mpg @ $3.63/gal = $0.0726 per mile
Average US Yearly mileage of 14,000 = $1,016.40
2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI MSRP: $22,775
Averages 38 mpg @ $3.94/gal = $0.104 per mile
Average US Yearly mileage of 14,000 = $1,456.00
2012 Honda Civic EX MSRP: $15,955
Averages 34 mpg @ $3.63/gal = $0.107 per mile
Average US Yearly mileage of 14,000 = $1,498.00
Here I have taken four very similar sized cars, but with different drive terrain platforms, and compared them on a cost per mile scale. Surprisingly, the Volt can be eliminated automatically from the comparison. Not only is it by far the most expensive upfront, it is more expensive per mile too. Even the electricity cost per mile is more expensive than the Prius’s cost using gasoline.
The rest can be looked at from different angles of course. While the Toyota Prius is cheapest to operate on a daily basis, it is only cheaper by less than $500 than the Honda Civic, which costs nearly $8,000 less. It would take 16 years, at these prices, for the Prius to break even with the Civic. Falling in the middle is the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. I wanted to show that even though diesel is more expensive at the pump, it is more efficient on the road (even when compared to the famed gas sipper Honda Civic).
For a break down of how the Volt operates, read my article concerning it and other Electric Vehicles.
*I based my numbers on: 1) my most recent energy bill from SCE&G, which shows I pay $0.12 per kwh. 2) I-20’s Shell Gas Station price of fuel at $3.63 for regular unleaded and $3.94 for diesel. 3) Eric Bolling’s mileage results for volt. 4) EPA ratings for others