Chevy VOLT versus a horse & buggy
GM says that its new Chevy Volt gets 230 miles per gallon (using EPA test methodology). Using the same methodology, Rocky’s wheelbarrow gets over 1,000,000 miles per gallon.
Statistics don’t lie. Or do they?
Here’s the math (converting electricity to gasoline).
The Volt’s 350 pound battery pack generates 16 kwh or 57,776,000 Joules.
One gallon of gas = 1.3 x 10^8 Joules, which converts roughly to 0.444 gallons/hour (energy equivalent.)
So, if you are driving 50 miles per hour, the electricity consumed equates to about 22.2 miles per gallon of gasoline.
The Volt’s retail price will be about $40,000. And average electricty prices are 15¢ per kwh. So the electricity bill will be about $2.40 for every hour of operation.
It’s reasonable to expect that the Volt’s cost will decline, and its efficiency will improve over time. It’s also reasonable to expect that if electric cars become popular, gasoline prices will decline and electricity prices will rise… creating a less favorable equilibrium.
Rocky concludes that absent an important breakthrough in battery technology (or massive government subsidy,) the Volt will be an expensive novelty — and not a commercial success. Even if it gets 253 miles per hour. See: Bugatti Veyron.
[Disclosure: Rocky drives a car that gets 32 mpg on the highway, and his desk chair gets really good “gas” mileage too. Toot, toot.]