Remember when the press seemed mostly focused on the Chevy Volt’s potential problems? Not anymore. Data from General Motors says the many Volts on the roads have now driven one billion miles, or even several million miles more. About 629 million of those billion were driven using electricity. Over 32 million gallons of gas were saved by driving in that mode.
The number of gallons of gas saved was estimated by a formula. The total number of miles driven and miles driven using electricity came from GM OnStar data. You can see Chevy’s data presentation here.
One billion miles driven is clearly quite a milestone, but how many Volts are on the roads in America? An estimated 63,000 have been sold in the United States since 2010, with about 14,000 sold abroad (the version mostly sold in the UK and Europe is called the Ampera). In June of 2014, the Volt was the top-selling plug-in car in America. (The LEAF, however, has dominated plug-in car sales this year and passed up the Volt.)
GM says you can charge a Volt for about $1.70 a day, and drive about 38 miles per charge on electricity, depending on conditions. Using a 120V charging unit, the charge time varies from 10 to 16 hours; using the 240V version takes about four hours.
When driving and the battery runs low, a gas-powered generator kicks in to make more electricity. This configuration is different from the typical hybrid car, like a Toyota Prius or the Honda Civic hybrid. (The MSRP for a Volt is $34,345, which is more than a standard Prius. However, the fuel efficiency is typically much greater.)
You can also use an app on a smartphone to check the car’s battery level, rather than having to get into the vehicle and look at a dashboard display or check the charging unit. There is also an app called VoltDC that tracks fuel efficiency. That information can be shared with other Volt owners so they can learn together how to optimize their driving experiences.
Misinformation about the Volt hasn’t stopped it from having successful sales. For example, even several years after the Volt was launched, a politically conservative website published a negative article about it. Volt sales were compared with those of Ford pickup trucks, which is one of the most popular and most common vehicles, so it was a very unfair comparison. However, CNN did make a better comparison when it compared Volt sales to another niche vehicle: the Chevy Corvette. The Volt had more sales. “GM sold 23,461 Volts in 2012 compared with just 7,671 in 2011. While it’s an impressive jump, the Volt is still one of Chevy’s lowest-selling cars. However, the Volt greatly outdid the Corvette, for instance, of which only 14,000 were sold last year.” So, the Volt’s sales were not lacking compared to another niche vehicle.
Plug-in cars are niche vehicles because they use a new technology, and appeal to a smaller segment of “early adopter” consumers that value fuel efficiency, environmentally friendliness, excellent acceleration, less maintenance, greater energy independence, and much greater convenience. This story of the one billion miles driven by Chevy Volts is one of overcoming adversity and victory. It is worthy of celebration.
Image: Mariodor, Wiki Commons
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