2011 Chevrolet Volt: Driving Style Test
September 30, 2011
For the first week I had our Chevrolet Volt, I drove it as if it had the equivalent of electric gold in its battery pack. I employed pretty much every easy trick I could think of for improved efficiency -- maximum use of the regenerative brakes, no excessive speeding, coasting up hills, predictive approaches to stop lights. Mostly, this is because I wanted to. Chevrolet designed the Volt to be efficient, so I figured I'd return the favor by driving efficiently.
But then I thought: does it really matter? Is my driving style really making a difference? So I devised a test to find out.
Since I'd been taking my daughter to school every day as part of my stay-at-home parent emulation, I had a repeatable route of about 17 miles of city driving. For two days I drove the route with efficiently in mind using the techniques noted above. Then for two more days I drove "normally," which was basically driving like everybody else on the road.
After each trip I recharged the Volt (on the 120V charger) and used our Kill-A-Watt meter to determine the amount of electricity used (in kilowatt hours) for the drive.
Efficient Driving: 29.4 kwh/100 miles average
Normal Driving: 33.9 kwh/100 miles average
(I wasn't driving 100 miles, but I converted the figures so that they're the same style that we've been reporting in the fuel economy updates. Remember that the lower the number, the better)
So the Volt became 13.3 percent more efficient in my limited testing. And driving this way hardly made any difference in terms of when I got to my destination -- there was no cost to me in terms of time. But I will say it does take more mental energy to drive this way. Sometimes it's kind of fun to test yourself, but other times you'll just want to just drive and not think about every little energy savings.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor