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Published on November 30th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Chevy Volt Driver’s Savings After One Year (Getting 980 MPG!)

November 30th, 2012 by  

First of all, I’ll just note that these are simply the results of one Chevy Volt driver. Not the best, not the worst. I’ll get to some stats from other drivers after the repost.

After one of our dozens of Chevy Volt posts, a Volt driver dropped us a note that he had bought the car and had a blog going on his experiences with it. I was interested, so subscribed to the blog. Yesterday, “Volt Owner” posted an update showing his stats, including savings, after 1 year of driving the Volt. Here’s his full post:

“I am not going to do a big write-up on this one.  I think the numbers speak volumes.  At the end of the year, I will calculate the yearly average price of fuel (will likely be about 20 cents higher than  he current rates listed) and give a total.  Look for that post around the one year anniversary mark, which will be January 7, 2013.

“If you drive a car that gets 23 MPG (the national average), the yearly savings based on my driving habits and electricity costs are going to be around $3000 PER YEAR.”

volt miles savings

Kudos to this driver, for sure — 980 MPG! (And a savings of about $2000-3000 to reward him for that.)

But some others are actually fairing even better. “Volt Owner” would rank 58th on the Volt Stats site right now, based on MPG. (In actuality, my hunch is that this driver is #54 — @Voltdriver — but that’s just a hunch.)

The current top 10 Volt drivers based on MPG (on that site) are as follows:

  1. Rocky Volt (100% electric so far!) — 15167.95 MPG! (92.45 MPGe)
  2. CT GM-Volt — 9789.12 MPG (92.28 MPGe)
  3. Millenium Falcon — 6565.84 MPG (91.95 MPGe)
  4. Volt — 4534.24 MPG (91.34 MPGe)
  5. PLUG1N — 4375.99 MPG (91.70 MPGe)
  6. Gary and Lisa’s Volt — 3928.43 MPG (90.95 MPGe)
  7. Red-Volt — 3696.61 MPG (90.91 MPGe)
  8. Mike’s Volt — 2966.31 MPG (90.50 MPGe)
  9. MaxVoltage/BudClary — 2774.73 MPG (90.77 MPGe)
  10. TrunkMonkey — 2729.27 MPG (90.84 MPGe)

Pretty amazing ratings, eh? All of those drivers are driving at 99% electric or higher. Of those, PLUG1N has the most EV miles — 19657.43 — while Mike’s Volt has the fewest — 1731.76.

If you love to look at stats (and who doesn’t), check out Volt Stats for other interesting tidbits.

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About the Author

Zach is tryin’ to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he’s also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada.

Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don’t jump to conclusions.

  • N22TANGO

    I gave up long ago with the formula MPGe. I developed a new formula anyone can understand… Mine is MPG$. And what I am able to do in my Volt, compared to several other vehicles I own, is nearly beyond the imagination.


    Tonight, my Volt just rolled past 20,000 miles and I suspect that “Dusty” on Voltstats is showing something around 2,533 MPGe, which has no meaning to me, when compared to my formula MPG$.

    I and another Volt owner manage http://www.AskMeAboutMyVolt.com and if you have a story to tell, contact us on the website. We would enjoy sharing your story in order to help get the truth out about this stunning car.

  • William C Eacho

    At US Embassy Vienna we bought 5 Volts for fleet use, city driving, avg 30 miles/day, so almost entirely electric. Volts are programmed to force you to use two tanks of gas a year, so the gas does not go bad in your tank. We showed savings of $10k per year, $2k per car. We paid $5k extra vs a comparable gas engine car. Savings are also in maintenance, less wear on brake pads, less overall maintenance. We had to install electrical outlets, offsetting some savings, but plan to buy more since the savings were so impressive. At $5k less, there is basically no price premium. The Volt is a better car for fleet use.

  • Barry Klinger

    A Volt costs about $8000 more than a Prius (plus another $7,500 from the tax credit) and seems to cost about the same in fuel use (comparing $.13/kWHr electricity and $3.50/gallon gas). Over a 100,000 mile car lifetime, the Prius uses 2,000 gallons of gas, so total savings buying a Prius amounts to over $3.00/gallon.

    For that money you are buying reductions in CO2 (if your electricity is from wind or solar), but I suspect you can find cheaper ways to reduce your carbon footprint. You are also getting the cool factor and helping to adapt a new technology which will hopefully get cheaper as more people buy it. Also you are employing GM workers, which is better than paying unemployment for them. I like all those benefits but I don’t know if I want to pay $3+/gallon for them.

  • How about this. $16,000 for price premium for H-EV Ford Focus over Ford Focus Titanium + $25,000 for PV and retrofit to save $5,000 p/yr on home and transportation energy cost ($41,000/$5,000) = 8.2 yr to be fossil fuel free. Priceless!

  • I am currently down in the weeds at volt stats, number 524 with a mere 208 mpg , but hey I am in Toronto driving around in sub zero weather 5 months of the year…
    I think you need to be in California to get more than 500 mpg!

    • ha, thanks for the note. 😀 good weather does help.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Another fix is to move someplace so that it’s downhill going to and coming home from work….

        • or to work from home 😉

          • Bob_Wallace


          • i noticed. i’m just having more fun. 😀

        • How would that work “going and coming” unless you live in a universe where the physics are different? 😛

          • Bob_Wallace

            (Psssttttt…. It’s a joke.)

          • That was the joke. 😉 Read the previous comments for context.

  • JayTee

    Why would you compare this car at 23 mpg?

    Its direct competitors get over 30 don’t they? Isn’t it a compact car?

    • Bob_Wallace

      23 MPG is the national average.

      If you would like to compare it to other cars, feel free.

      • JayTee


        By my calculations it takes about 14 years to pay back the difference between a tax subsidised Volt and a Chevy Cruze at $15000 miles per year, $3.44 gas, and $0.08 electricity.

        Not counting interest or time value of money.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Good. You cranked some numbers, as have I.

          Yes, you can find non-EV/PHEV options that are cheaper than EVs and PHEVs. Over vehicle lifetime it’s hard to impossible to beat the Toyota Prius hybrid, lowest featured model.

          Electric cars are not yet the most cost efficient way to travel. But they also are far from the most expensive, even excluding the super-expensive stuff.

          Early days, grasshopper. Prices will drop. Right now some people will pay a little extra to drive electric because it makes them feel better. Just as other people will pay more for leather seats for the feel.

          The important thing, IMO, is for potential electric buyers to understand that the price of feeling good is not extreme.

          If cost is your critical issue then look for a beat up older car with higher MPG and in good mechanical shape. Something lime green with carpets that smell of cat pee might be an excellent buy. Perhaps with mismatching color doors. Radio ripped out of the dash with a hatchet….

          • JayTee

            You tend to make these discussions personal.

            I completely agree with government R&D funding. I disagree that we should subsidise product purchases by affluent people. Essentially picking winners and losers.

            Think about all of the research that could have been funded (or debt saved) if we hadn’t paid people to buy volts leafs teslas fiskers etc.

          • Bob_Wallace

            And think about all that R&D money that would have been wasted if we didn’t finish the job and get product into people’s hands.

            The government picks winners and losers every day. Every time a purchase or service agreement is signed someone wins and someone loses. That’s life.
            The option, when it comes to getting new, expensive technology launched is to support the price enough so that those with deep pockets will be willing to give it a go or let it die. Get the product process moving and, generally, prices will drop to the point where less well off people can purchase.

            You got a different model?

          • JayTee

            Yes. The free market model.

            Your example of a government contract is invalid because it doesn’t take money from me to help another consumer purchase a product. Government is right in making public purchases, not private ones.

            Volt Driver just used the subsidized price to show a 5 year payback. Did you know that if the tax credit were $40,000 the payback would be instantaneous?

            If Volt is comparable to a 25 k cruze….why didn’t GM forego all the luxury, sell the car for 5k less, and avoid the need for my tax dollars?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Contact GM. Ask them.

          • JayTee

            Answer: Taxpayer money produces uneconomic decisions. See also: windpower, A123, Fisker, Solindra, ethanol, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, etc.

          • I think there are plenty of flops and successes with both private investment and government investment. Not a good argument unless you want me to name the private companies that lost trillions in the last 5 years.

          • JayTee

            Of course. But private companies don’t take money from people involuntarily.

            People lose money as a result of their born decisions.

            This flawed understanding of free versus planned economies illustrates why we have a $16 trillion debt.


          • Bob_Wallace

            $16 trillion debt. $9 trillion to fight three oil wars.

            Worry about where we actually waste money (and human lives).

            Worry little about investments in our future. Our investments in our energy future are paying off very nicely.

          • JayTee

            25 million free Iraqis.

            Are saying Afghanistan is about oil?

            How much oil do we get from them?

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you don’t understand the connection between the Afghanistan war and oil then learn some history.

            You are wearing out your welcome.

          • JayTee

            Tell me how Afghanistan is connected to oil.

          • Publius

            Wow. Those who do not learn the lessons of history… Stay out of tall buildings, Jay Tee.

          • Our lawmakers are in office via the voters. We entrust them to make decisions on our behalf. Please consider that more when writing such comments as your first one above.

            We have a $16 trillion debt for reasons far, far, far beyond what you’ve just said.

          • JayTee

            Are you saying we shouldn’t debate the merits of government policies?

          • And what’s the subsidized price of burning oil and creating cancer and global warming in the process? Please, drop the “there’s a free market ideal that govt is blocking” nonsense. the govt corrects for market failures. the fact that health and environmental costs aren’t internalized by companies that profit off of them is a market failure.

          • JayTee

            That’s not what the article is about. It is about how much people save by buying a Volt.

            I personally love electric cars and can’t wait until they are economical.

          • They are already economical. Please go find someone else to annoy with repeated falsehoods.

          • A “free-market” not having some control on it isn’t always a good idea. It’s almost like having a highway with no speed limit where some people elect to drive 100 MPH as they endanger others. Control is needed and only a governing body of some kind can level everything out. Imagine roads with no stop signs… there would be total chaos.

            I like the fact that when I’m at (using this as an analogy… shopping at a grocery store) I can pick up a bottle of salad dressing, look at the mandatory product label that tells what is in it (I prefer NOT to consume trans-fat and MSG) and thus I can make an educated decision on what to buy. The “free-market” folks battled this new mandate for a very long time before it became the law and I as a consumer have benefited.

            And the malarkey posted by JayTee about “his” tax dollars, when it is a tax credit I get when I buy an EV and when in fact, the US Treasury Department projects the GM financial assistance should be paid in full very soon.

          • Hi Jay, I’m wondering how you feel about your tax-bucks subsidizing big oil?

          • The Volt isn’t a cruze. Considering the top 3 traded cars now average above 25k (the third is the BMW 3 series) it should tell you that even comparing it to a cruze is folly. I can promise you the 3 series isn’t in the top 3 cars traded for a cruze. I created the chart to compare the Volts gas savings for a variety of MPGs that people may be coming from.

            And since the Cruze, equipped to be closer to 25k to even come close to the features the base Volt has, and after subsidies the Volt coming in around 32.5k, in my case, the pure payback is less than 5. Not 14.

          • It is unlikely the volt will hold much of its value considering that
            improvements should be made in alternate vehicle technology (thus
            making the Volt obsolete within years) and the battery is expected to
            begin depleting well before year 8. Current cost estimates for battery
            replacement are about $8,000.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m pretty sure that GM has stated that Volt batteries are holding up better than they expected. And thinking that replacement batteries will cost $8k five or more years from now isn’t realistic.

            I agree that early Volts (and Leafs) will loose a lot of their value simply because the price of EVs and PHEVs will likely drop over the next few years. Early Volts and Leafs are not likely to become obsolete. There’s likely to be very good secondary market for used electrics for people who don’t need a lot of range.

          • My very first Apple computer (I bought it in 1983) was a LISA. Way back then, it cost $9,995. As I write this reply, I am doing so on a mini iPad that I purchased last month for around $300.

            Technology advances and as it does, prices fall.

            My 2012 Volt has been faithfully serving me we’ll for nearly a year and a half and I’m not yet able to witness any degradation of the range I have, but in several years down the road, I’m confident that the price of a replacement battery will plummet just as the prices of computers has.

            With Tesla now offering a battery-swap that is faster than I can pump gas into my pickup, I’m also confident that GM and others will soon follow the lead and have this capability for all EVs.

            People who have the attitude that EVs won’t work out well are nearly as backwards-thinking as people 150 years ago who rode horses and scoffed at trains running with steam engines.

            Me, I embrace the future and I’m very excited to be a proactive adopter of this technology. Go look at my short video on AskMeAboutMyVolt and ask yourself “can my car do this?”

        • Funny that some people are so myopic and having a laser-like tunnel vision, suggesting that taxpayers paid for my Volt.

          Why isn’t anyone hollering about the fact that Harley Davidson got a $2.3 billion assistance? What about Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Swiss-based UBS and Britain’s Barclays? These financial firms (and others) are the reason that the economy went into a tail-spin, during the BUSH administration.

          Why do U.S. oil companies — some of the most
          profitable corporations on the planet — receive 20 to 40 billion dollars a year in subsidies from the U.S. government?
          And, in a time of skyrocketing oil prices and profits, why
          did the George W. Bush administration in 2005 grant an additional $32.9 billion in new subsidies over a five-year period?

          The U.S. Treasury is forecasting that they will have sold off the remainder of GM stock that they acquired, by Dec 31.

          By the way, did you know that the incredible Swedish Volvo is made in China now? Or that the underwear you have on, is made in China? Do you drive a KIA?

          The lesson learned from the “Great Recession” is that #1 GM Management was (for the most part) asleep at the wheel, and the UAW was biting the hand that was feeding them. Gone (hopefully) are the goon-tactics that tainted the UAW and also gone are GM Executives (that flew to Washington in their expensive Gulfstream corporate jet, as they presented their hard-luck story to congress.

          I’m glad GM did NOT become China Motors. China is here in the USA buying up as many businesses as they can, to include meat packing plants, land and much more.

          Chinese investors are targeting a variety of American industries like advanced manufacturing and oil and gas — renewable energy, aerospace, electronics and banking.

          Several years ago (2007 I think) part of the US Navy fleet was in need of safe harbor to avoid a typhoon. China would not allow our ships to have refuge in Hong Kong.

          And the best you naysayers can come up with is this garbage about “Guberment Motors”?

          If you are a home-owner, did you get some tax relief from the purchase of your home? If you have kids, did you get a tax break? I just hope that as China is gobbling up many of our industries, our real estate, our technology – that someday teachers from China will not be in our classrooms teaching your kids… And I for one prefer my car being made by General Motors and not China Motors… And my Volt just hit 20,000 miles, powered by electrons that were produced by many thousands of wind turbines here in Texas. I will admit that in those 20,000 miles, my Volt did “gobble-up” nearly 9 gallons of Jihad Juice in the process…

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  • Tom

    I am in the market for a new car and wanted my next car to be electric. I really had my heart set on a Chevy Volt. Seeing the car in the showroom, I was very impressed with its build quality. It appeared to match the upper end cars made in Germany and Japan.

    I finally had the opportunity to test drive one. It drove like a regular car and had lots of zip. unfortunately, like a regular car it had a regular suspension. What I mean by that is it is way to stiff. You see, I have a neck injury and am very bump sensitive. I currently drive a Lexus because of its superior suspension that really isolates the driver from road bumps. Most cars do not. I have found Chrysler to have the worst suspension when it comes to ride quality and the Lexus LS400 series to have the best.

    When I read posts that said a lot of Lexus drivers were turning in their cars for Chevy Volts, I was very encouraged. Finally a good quality car with a great suspension I thought. Well it seems to be a great quality car with a not so great suspension. I have been suffering in pain for a week now since I have driven the vehicle. Don’t mistaken this as a bad suspension vehicle as it is like most other cars as I have a special need for bump issolation due to my injuries. Be aware however that his is not a Lexus quality ride.

    I would have to recommend to anyone else will spinal injuries, that his car does not provide good bump isolation and may not be for you. For the rest of you that are healthy and uninjured, I would encourage you to buy the car. We need to very rapidly decrease green house gas emission and this car will help do that. The quality appears to be excellent. According to the dealer, the car costs $87,000 to manufacture. That quality shows. I just wish they did a much better job on the suspension.

    I guess I will have to wait until Lexus develops an electric car with its legendary smooth suspension.

    • I am sorry its not working out for your back. However, your dealership is filled with a bunch of idiots. The car doesnt not cost $87,000 to manufacture. This is a myth pushed out by the anitVolt crowd (likely a few in the dealership hate the Volt). The Volt, according to the flawed Reuters article, costs anywhere from 20k-32k to produce. There has been about 1 billion dollars spent in R&D to bring the car to market. The antiVolt crowd is taking that number and dividing it by the number of cars currentlty produced, rather than how many will be sold over the lifetime of the car, which is a ridiculous accounting trick.
      I find the suspension firm, but I don’t consider that to be normal suspension. I have driven and owned BMW, and they have firm suspensions. I don’t consider that inferior, just a different type of ride.

      • Altair IV

        Not the lifetime of the car, the lifetime of the technology. The Volt is just the first of certainly many vehicles to be produced from the R&D invested, and the one with which all the unforeseen trouble spots and avoidable cost sinks will get ironed out. It’s the future generations that will be the real profit winners for the company.

        • Bob_Wallace

          “There has been about 1 billion dollars spent in R&D to bring the car to

  • I hit just under a penny per mile my first year. I spent $123 in “total” fuel cost my first 13,400 miles…surplus solar from home and a courtesy charger at work… Here’s my One Year Volt Review:



  • JMin2020

    This is an Extreme MPGe Zack. 980 and All American. How about that ! I like it !

    • Technically, this is not MPGe. I think my actual MPGe is around 105. MPGe is just a measure of efficiency. The 980 MPG is a combined rate, but doesn’t speak to efficiency.

    • 😀

  • Godzilla35

    if you’re driving close to 100 % in electric mode, you’ve made the wrong purchasing decision in the first place. you should have bought an EV like the Leaf or Focus electric in the first place.

    • Nope. I feel a lot better and drive more electric miles in the Volt as a result of not worrying about range anxiety. I also will not own a car without leather. I will also not own a ev without a TMS. And it makes more sense to me to haul around a small engine that will take me anywhere I want than a super expensive battery that has 2x the range I normally need, but not the limitless range of a gas extender. Even if I was 99% electric I would not own a leaf.

    • No, I drive 92% in electric and have the Volt as my only car, I have to take 100 mile trips each month which would be a problem in any EV $40K or less…


    • FukUhoe

      Full electric vehicles have limitations. Volt gives you the freedom to run only on electric or gas.

  • nskylinegtr02

    6 cents per kWh….. really? Where do you live? idaho? west virginia?

    • North Carolina. Progress Energy offers a TOU-D plan. About 5.5cents off peak, and about 6.5 on peak. I just average the two and say 6 cents. There is a demand factor that adds some money to the bill, but the car doesnt really affect that the way I have charging setup, so that is entirely ignored. In other words, my demand factor has remained unchanged since I got the car, so my only additional cost has been the pure kWh rate charge.

      Also, I charge for free at work. My actual costs are about half what is listed. But in being honest, someone has to pay for the energy, so it needs to be accounted for, and I do so in that sheet.


      • nskylinegtr02

        nice! And I see that weekends are considered off-peak as well. This is a classic example of the public benefiting from doing their own research. Thanks for clearing that up. Almost cried foul! Nice job

      • Sorry to nit pick but is the 6cent/kw the generation charge or did you take your monthly bill/used kw. I think the second is a truer cost, I’m under Duke Electric also Don’t have TOU-D plan though. It is a nit, but using the delivered cost of the electric is the truer comparison. You bill is normally broken into three parts. generation/kw fee, flat connection/distribution fee (CD fee), and CD/kw fee. Looking at a 800kw bill for me the generation ~50% (5.6/kw) CD ~22% (2.4/kw) and the rest flat riders. So you pay back might not be a fast. It is also why PV on you roof should be compared to the total connected cost (~8/kw for me).

        • The 6 cent average price I gave is the delivered rate. If anyone doubts this, I’ll be happy to post my bill on my blog. Technically, the off peak delivered rate is .053 and on peak is .066.

          • I updated the entry with the snippet from my bill. Just trust me that the demand factor has not increased with the car, and has no bearing on the cost to charge the car.

          • Man I using the cheapest option I can get in Cin Ohio. Duke distribution (no other option) but different generator. And you are much cheaper, I guess since Duke corp office is NC, they cut the locals a better deal. LOL

      • NC is one of the things that tipped me off to which user you were. 😀

    • the lowest rate in md. is .0890 hwh not including the delivery charge and for the volt to fully charge on 120v outlet without kicking the breaker don’t plan to running anything else,to run a independent 240v setup to your garage will run you about $2,000

      • Bob_Wallace

        Have you run the math with those numbers? $0.089/kWh and 0.31 kWh/mile = $0.028 per mile. You’d need to find $1.38/gallon fuel to run a 50 MPG Prius that cheaply.

        Your garage 120 vac outlet should be on a separate circuit from stuff inside the house. Unless you’re blowing leaves late at night there shouldn’t be problem with not being able to do anything else on that circuit.

        And $2,000 for a 220 vac outlet. Let’s assume that you would have a need which would make you a high mileage driver. And that would mean that you otherwise would have a very high monthly gas bill.

        $2,000 spread over ten years comes in at about $17 per month. Well less than half a tank.

  • Fun. Didnt know I was going to be tweeted a lot today 🙂 Yes, @voltdriver on voltstats.net is me. The MPG is lower on Voltstats due to a data collection issue and when I first started subscribing to Voltstats. The actual MPG posted on my site is the correct MPG, and not the lower MPG on voltstats.

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