Yesterday the internet was abuzz with the rumors that the Volt would get less than 30 miles per gallon after the battery was depleted (after the first 40 miles of range following a full charge). A video shot by a Volt test driver and his camera crew seemed to show that the Volt returned about 27 mpg after a day of test driving.
Certainly it's only one point of data and we don't know what kinds of conditions the test car was driven in, but considering the complete radio silence GM has provided on the subject of Volt fuel economy after the battery is depleted (so called charge-sustaining mode), can you really blame people for trying to squeeze as much info out of little tidbits like that video? Up to this point, it was kind of assumed that the Volt might return as much as 50 mpg in charge-sustaining mode, but the ultimate choice of a less than optimized engine for the Volt range extension has meant that most people are expecting something quite a bit lower than 50 mpg. But 30 mpg would be a deal breaker for many, which is why the report was quite shocking.
Apparently, GM thought it was shocking too. “These numbers are completely out of context and irrelevant,” said GM spokesperson Rob Peterson to the folks over at GM-Volt. “As you can tell from the video itself, the AOL Translogic team ran a battery of aggressive tests with the vehicle including extensive use of mountain mode, time trials (0-60), (and) aggressive driving maneuvers." Peterson also pointed out that the vehicle often sat idling while the camera crew set up different shots, adding, "I’m hard stretched to think of ANY real world conditions under which a Volt owner could simulate the conditions this particular vehicle was put under."
If only GM would simply tell us how many miles per gallon they expect the Volt to return in charge-sustaining mode under normal circumstances, all of this grasping at straws and rumor would simply disappear. Instead, it's now been set up as an "us-against-them" game to see who can figure out what the fuel economy will be first. GM knows what the answer is and the fact that they won't give it to anybody makes it seem like they're trying to hide something. I understand that they want to establish the fact that with the Volt, it's all about average fuel economy over time (which should be quite high due to the 40 mile electric-only range), but people still have a right to know what, exactly, they are buying.