2011 Chevrolet Volt Long Term Road Test


2011 Chevrolet Volt: August and September Fuel Economy Update

October 12, 2011

2011_Volt_1600_r34_driveway.jpg

With no Nissan Leaf to kick around, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt fuel consumption tally becomes a bit easier to put together.

Here's a summary of the Volt's gasoline and electricity consumption for the months of August and September.

Consider these random factoids: Since January the Volt has made 39 visits to the gas pump over 6,715 miles and has been plugged in 152 times for another 4,335 miles. Some of those were partial charges, so these numbers can't be used to compute an average range.

But I have the required detail in a huge spreadsheet I'm staring at. Here's what it says about how our Volt has fared since it joined the LT fleet back in January.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Best

Worst

Average

EPA

Electricity (kWh/100 mi)

20.6

58.4

33.8

36

Electric Range (miles)

54.6

23.5

38.4

35

Gasoline (mpg)

42.6

21.8

34.3

37

In EV mode our Volt is using 6% less electricity per hundred miles and travelling an average of 10% farther on a full charge than the EPA leads us to believe. Good stuff.

On the other gasoline-stained hand it's consuming about 8% more premium unleaded than expected when operating in series hybrid mode.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

July

Aug

Sept

Overall

Utility Factor (% EV miles)

26%

35%

49%

40%

Apparent MPG (ignoring electricity)

47.9

56.3

71.9

57.5

Cost per mile (US average prices)

9.3¢

8.1¢

7.1¢

8.3¢

(Cal. average prices)

9.7¢

8.6¢

8.1¢

9.1¢

The Utility Factor shows an improvement from July, when the Volt ran quite a distance on gasoline to Vegas and back as part of our annual fuel sipper smackdown.

Things improved significantly last month when the Volt spent about half the time in EV mode in the hands of editor Brent Romans. His week with the car was even better than the numbers suggest, as Brent was able to drive the Volt as an EV 95% of the time near his home in Fresno, California.

Turns out that Brent is one of those folks that has the right sort of driving pattern to get the most out of a Volt. But the long drive from his remote office to the Edmunds HQ is the main reason why the Utility Factor average fell to 49% for the month.

A funny thing happened to gas prices in September: they increased in California but fell a bit nationwide. For this reason the Volt's per-mile operating cost in our home state was a full penny higher than the national average; the difference is usually just a half-cent.

Popular hybrids, for reference

July

Aug

Sept

Overall

2011 Toyota Prius (US average prices)

7.4¢

7.2¢

6.8¢

7.2¢

(Cal. avg prices)

7.6¢

7.5¢

7.6¢

7.7¢

2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid (US avg prices)

9.5¢

9.2¢

8.7¢

9.2¢

(Cal. avg prices)

9.8¢

9.6¢

9.8¢

9.9¢

That same California cost offset shows in the hybrid per-mile costs.

The Volt's net fuel cost still floats somewhere between the Prius and a Fusion Hybrid, but it's clear that someone with a short commute, someone like Brent that could keep the Volt in EV mode most of the time, could achieve an operating cost well below that of the Prius.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Chevrolet Volt in VA is:

$100 per month*
* Explanation
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