Detailing the greenwashed Chevy Volt

The Chevy Volt gives the phrase “pay to pollute” a whole new meaning.

General Motors pitches the pricey Chevy Volt as a means of reducing carbon emissions. The Volt web page states:

Electricity – a more sensible primary fuel
Put simply, electricity is a cleaner source of power. And as technology improves in the generation of electricity, we will continue to see reduced carbon outputs. Advancements in electricity production along with reduction in emissions from electric-powered driving could help make our world a cleaner place.

So does the Chevy Volt’s battery actually reduce carbon emissions? Here’s our analysis.

According to the EPA the 4-seat Volt is capable of driving 35 miles on its 16 kilowatt hours (kWh) of stored electric charge. The Volt’s gas-only fuel economy rating is 37 mpg.

Since two oxygen atoms from the atmosphere combine with each carbon atom when gasoline is burned, a gallon of gas produces about 19.6 lbs. of carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned. So when operating on gasoline, the Volt produces 0.53 lbs. of CO2 per mile (19.6 lbs. of CO2 per gallon divided by 37 miles per gallon).

Since we can’t quantify accurately just how much transmission loss there is between electricity generation and charging points, we’ll assume an impossible 100 percent efficiency at the charger to work out the CO2 emissions for the Volt’s 16 kWh stored charge.

In 2007, national “average” CO2 emissions were 2.16 lbs per kWh from coal-fired generation and 1.01 lbs per kW for gas-fired generation. according to Power Systems Analysis. Given that 44.46 percent of electricity in the U.S. is coal-fired and 23.31 percent is gas-fired, on a national basis, then, the mean emission of CO2 per kWh is 1.2 lbs/kWh. (2.16 lbs/kWh x 0.4446 = 0.96 lbs/kWh from coal, plus 1.01 lbs/kWh x 0.2331 = 0.24 lbs/kWh from gas).

The Volt’s “emissions mileage” from its stored charge is then 16 kWh x 1.2 lbs/kWh divided by 35 MPG = 0.55 lb CO2/mile.

So on an “average” basis, the Volt emits more CO2 from battery use than from gasoline use (0.55 lbs/mile vs. 0.53 lbs/mile).

Maybe you don’t think that’s a big difference, but the difference becomes more pronounced when the Volt is charged in states that rely more on coal-fired electricity.

In West Virginia where coal fires 96 percent of the state’s power, the Volt’s per mile CO2 emissions reach 0.95 lbs per mile. In Ohio, Volts emit about 0.84 lbs of CO2 per mile — much higher than the gasoline-powered rate of 0.53 lbs. per mile.

In fact, coal is burned to produce 44 percent or more of the electricity in 26  states (AR, CO, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, OH, OK, PA, TN, UT, WI, WV, WY).  So, on average, Volts charged in those states will emit more CO2  from battery use than gasoline use.

Last November, the Nature Conservancy proclaimed:


Too bad it didn’t check under the hood.

The Chevy Volt, un-greenwashed

77 thoughts on “Detailing the greenwashed Chevy Volt”

  1. I have owned a Volt for a couple of months now and read quite a bit about it, including the objections. In my experience, whenever people get so emotional about a car, there’s more going on that they aren’t saying. They seem genuinely afraid of the Chevy Volt technology catching on. Lets face it, the concept could put a lot of people out of business. Maintenance, fuel cost everything about this car must scare the hell out of people who make a living overcharging for all the nuisances we have all come to accept about conventional vehicles. They will praise pure electrics and other technologies because they don’t see them as a threat while demonizing the one technology that could actually work for most people. Let’s see if their attempts to suppress this succeed; lets see how adept they are at manipulating us.

  2. Are we figuring the co2 emission from the naval, air and ground operations in the middle east and the emissions from the oil tankers that bring the oil, and a few incidentals like treasure and blood that pay for the geopolitics of oil?

  3. your calculations of co2 for the volt on electric is wrong! I own a volt and I average about 38 miles on 10 kwh, not 16 as you used. that calculates to about .32. not .55.

  4. This is the last time I will comment on this site. I posted because the original analysis of the Volt in this blog is simply wrong. I own a Volt, and I have seen what it can do. Fit and finish is at least as good as my Prius, and performance is much better overall. I don’t know if the car will be a commercial success for GM (probably not if they can’t get the price lowered), but that was not my point. I do know that of the 2,000,000 Priuses that have been sold, half have been sold in the last couple of years, and the Prius is not cheap and Toyota lost money on every one they sold for the first few years. That car turned out to be a big winner for them, but whether the Volt will be a similar success will depend upon many factors including cost reductions, reliability, etc.
    And by the way, no one is mandating that anyone buy a Volt. There is a tax credit incentive, just like there was in the first few years on Prius sales, but that incentive has been offered on fuel efficient cars under both Republican and Democratic administrations in an effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. All I am saying is that when opinions are not supported by the facts, we should disavow them.

  5. I rode in a Volt at a press event in Brooklyn, MI last November. The car’s fit and finish is sub-standard. Neither was I impressed with the cheap interior. It reminded me more of a Dodge Neon in material and finish. The car has no pizazz! It’s not going to sell. Trust me… I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been in this business for years. Referring to my last post regarding market driven success stories, you cannot mandate an alternative ANYTHING in my part of the country, and I’m sure there are a majority of folks who’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with me.This has little to do with choosing sides. Common sense isn’t limited to the left or the right. I simply don’t believe the Volt is the efficient little wheeled wonder that you have suggested. Only time will prove its marketability.

  6. Brad,

    I said “one of the greatest achievements” , and by the way, I like your list. I think that if someone had told me a few years ago that GM (of all companies!) would produce a car that would, in normal use, double the energy economy of the best cars from all over the world, and that it could be your only car no matter how far you wanted to drive, I wouldn’t have believed it. SAE just named it the best engineered car, and it has won virtually every automotive award you can name. The control system in the volt contains more than 8 million lines of code, more than the Boeing Dreamliner, and what is most amazing, is how seamlessly it all works. And when I think that the engineering team stuck with this project through a bankruptcy filing and untold questions about the future of GM, I am truly amazed.
    One more thing. People seem to hate the Volt because Obama saved GM, and GM produced the Volt. This kind of thinking is just irrational.

  7. Bill

    Just want you to be sure that Eric’s comments were not mine.

    While I disagree with some of what you say, I try not to be disagreeable, cheeky – yes, disagreeable, no!

    Would like to hear how the volt is the greatest engineering acheivement in American history, however. Me thinks you engage in a bit of hyperbole.

  8. Well, now we can see your true stripes. I posted a comment pointing out that the analysis that started this topic is completely wrong, providing actual facts to back up my statement, and your resonse is, well, read it yourself. Just feeling that you are right does not make you right. The biggest crisis our country faces is from people like you who believe anything you hear that supports your existing prejudices must be true. You have not driven a volt, tested a volt, or probably even seen a volt. I have, so don’t bother to reply unless you are willing to subject your opinions to the facts.

  9. Bill Destler… you sound more like a used car salesman then an EE. The chevy volt is an abortion waiting to happen. We’re not ready for it, and most people don’t even want to be seen in the p.o.s. either. You can’t force change on people just because you believe it’s the right time and the right thing to do. Just look at the response our Bozo In Chief has gotten to his hopey-changey thing! Good ideas are market driven, not dictated!

  10. No, the Prius is a fine car but a typical user like me will get over 100 mpge in a Volt whereas the Prius gets a max of about 50 mpg. Here I am including the cost of electricity in calculating the Volt’s equivalent mileage. I would have to drive the Volt 200 miles per day and only charge the Volt once to reduce its mge to 50 mpge. Also, the Volt rides better and handles better and is much quieter.

  11. For the record, I was being cheeky!

    Additionally, if you want to talk about greatest engeneering acheivements in American history, the Chevy Volt isn’t even in the top 10!

    As electric cars go, I would put Tesla in the number one spot by a mile.

    And just to be clear, here are 10 acheivements that make the Volt look like a dolt.
    1. Putting men on the moon
    2. The PC
    3. The internet – which Gore DIDN’T invent
    4. Smart phones
    5. Microsoft suit of office products
    6. The large hadron collider in Europe
    7. Nuclear powered subs and aircraft carriers
    8. The pitch tracker you see on tv when watching major league baseball games – Also those yellow first down lines you see electronically painted on the field during nfl games
    9. Solid state storage devices
    10. HDTV

    Just my top 10 list – the volt doesn’t even get a vote

    BTW, doesn’t your prius out perform your volt in every conceivable way?

  12. For the record, I am a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and the President of a prominent engineering school. I have no connection to GM whatever. Facts are stubborn things.

  13. This analysis is pure garbage, and a good example of how politics can triumph over science. Unlike anyone else who has commented, I own a Volt, and a Prius, and a Chrysler minivan. So let’s start with a few actual facts. The Volt uses only 10.3 KWhr to go 35 miles, not 16 kwhr as you suggest, so your analysis and your conclusion is simply wrong. Another fact: a gallon of gas contains about 33 Kwhr of energy. On that amount of energy, a Volt can travel about 120 miles in electric mode. This is not because electricity is cheaper than gas, it is because driveline efficiency in an electric vehicle can be up to 80%, whereas in a gas powered vehicle, most cars don’t achieve 20%. What ought to have clued you in to the real efficiency of the Volt is that it gets 37 mpg when running on gas, despite the fact that it is running a gas engine to run a generator to run an electric motor!
    Please, just because you don’t like Obama isn’t a reason to misrepresent what is one of the greatest engineering achievements in American history.

  14. What you are actually saying is, “tabulate ALL the precursor costs to produce gasoline (but ignore all the precursor costs of the fuels used to generate the electricity for my electric car).” In other words, more junk science.

  15. The government will probably come up with a “disposal fee” or an “environmental impact fee” when the batteries finally give up the ghost, or when the car is ready to fall apart.

  16. Not if you count the cost to mine the coal and drill for the natural gas. Also, if you want to be more realistic, there are electrical transmission line losses of AT LEAST 10%. Then the battery charger itself is only about 60% efficient. When that’s all counted, the electric option is not only more expensive and less convenient, but it also creates more CO2 than gasoline. Now throw in the CO2 cost of making the battery pack versus the gas tank, and you just have overkill.

  17. The battery never fully charges, and it never fully depleats. Around 12kWh are used to travel 35 miles not 16kWh.

  18. In the figures, electricity is priced from the generater, gasoline from the onboard tank. Add the amount of co2 produced getting the gasoline from underground to the tank and the volt will be the best.

  19. Don’t hold your breath unless you want to become a Smurf as there is a limit to the number that can be made given the lanthanides needed to make the batteries. This will turn out to be yet another bad joke played on the people by the elected ruling class.

    For ideas, science and humor see The Two Minute Conservative at: for radio/TV hosts, opinion page editors and you. Also on Kindle daily.

  20. I eagerly await the hoardes of Volts, Leafs (or is it Leaves?) and similar contraptions.
    I just need to know will my gm cluster hook work for them when I hook my wrecker up?

  21. Yes, missing a big something. When a battery is charging, assume just one electron in the process, flows from the charger, the charger takes in an electron, and after that one electron travels from the “generator” through Step Up transformers at the power plant, miles of power lines, then step down transformers at substations, then step down pole top transformers the terminal voltage at the generator drops thus causing the generator controls to open the steam chest valves of the turbine, steam pressure sags and it can be a nat gas fired boiler or a coal fired boiler or in some cases a diesel fired peaker, but the end result is the same more fuel more stack emmissions.

  22. Scott T – Yes the earth has warmed before mankind existed. What do you think ended the ice ages?

    As for c02 you have to examine percentages. Humans contribute a tiny percent to the overall output of c02. Coupled with the amount c02 actually contributes to warming (which isn’t much), the claim humans are causing ALL warming (or most) is very shaky. There are just too many other smoking guns.

    But IF the greens are concerned with heating the planet then they should be concerned that solar panels directly heat the planet and do so in localized areas at many times more than c02. The projected temp increase by c02 is around 1 degree in the next 50 years which current trends show we won’t even hit that. Solar panels directly raise temps in their local areas by 1-10 degrees just be being there.

    If greens really were concerned about heat then a program of reflected roof tops might be a better choice than c02 control.

  23. No they are very feasible reactors that are buried, use thorium fluoride for fuel and have a very short half life compared to uranium. Bury and forget for 50 years. Its a fact that the anti-nuke groups in this country block these efforts. Power should be distributed, not centralized.

  24. Actually solar is a bad idea for heat. The idea of c02 reduction is to reduce global warming. Its really the warming that’s the issue. Solar panels trap heat that would otherwise bounce back out of the atmosphere. This turns 120 deg tucson desert into 140 degree tucson desert since nearly all heat that hits the panels are trapped. Solar panels raise temperatures and they do over 10000 worse than any co2 effect since you can see a direct 10 to 20 deg heat increase in their area. Plus solar east up tons of real estate that could be used for other things.

    Also solar and wind account for a very small percentage of power generation in the US and only a few states have them.

    Yes if you could have a wind turbine or solar panels that will charge your car, you’re probably fine but that’s rare for families to have that.

    Now if small towns had thorium reactors that might be a different story but the luddite anti-nuke crowd prevents them.

  25. BTW this Green mentality of batteries is part of a bigger mentality of authoritarian thinking, a top down, monolithic, central planning approach to problem solving. You see it with their plans for power generation with their “smart grid” concepts. A central authority (of course) controls all the power in the US and can direct it where they want. Monolithic, authoritarian and a monopoly. Talk about regressive and old-n-busted.

    Whenever someone talks about having towns provide their own power, say through small Toshiba thorium reactors, right away that idea is snuffed out.

    The electric car is another example. The state controls electricity, they don’t control gasoline. So if we all have to go to the state to get power for our cars then the state can determine what we do with our cars… authoritarian thinking.

  26. A battery electric is actually a bad idea. The volt lugs around 300 plus pounds of battery just for the sole purpose of boasting about being an electric car. Its worthless.

    Instead the volt should dump the batteries and go gas electric or diesel electric. There are diesel generators now that are extremely efficient that love to run at the same rpm. A diesel or gas electric would offer the best of both world. You refuel with gas like a car but drop a significant amount of weight as you do not need a massive engine nor transmission and clutch and you get 80% of generated electricity turned into work. Also you are not carrying 300lbs of batteries. In fact, rig up the generator to shut off when the vehicle is idle and you get even better savings. You could even have a small pack of batteries just for acceleration from a stop for example.

    Its this green’s insistence on 100% battery that’s the problem. They are not needed.

  27. Never forget the Volt was brought to you by the same people who made the buck-toothed Buick of the 50’s to say nothing of the Edsel, but their greatest creation was “planned obsolescence” the curse that created the big opportunity for Japan.

    For ideas, science and humor see The Two Minute Conservative at: for radio/TV hosts, opinion page editors and you. Also on Kindle daily.

  28. Of course, we live in the real world where 67 percent of our electricity does come from coal and natural gas. Moreover, you might find it difficult to charge your Volt at overnight by relying on solar power.

  29. This electric car jazz is nothing more a subtle ploy to con people to stay within walking distance of their home so the lords can keep better control of their serfs.

  30. Great article, however, the assumption that electricity comes from coal fired plants is just more junk science. The equation changes considerably if one was to figure wind or solar instead of coal or natural gas. You are the same as the environwackos. Distort science to reach a predetermined conclusion. Sad.

  31. Why do you think higher global temperatures are bad? We’ve had them during the Medieval Period before. Then came the mini-Ice Age. Now it’s getting warm again. So what?

  32. Most of our imported oil comes from Mexico, Canada and Venezuela. Oil companies aren’t that stupid. Why buy from Saudi Arabia and pay for additional transportation costs.

  33. Methane is not a “greenhouse gas.” Just look at an absorption chart in 0.5 to 16 mu IR band, the “heat” energy range, and you will see that it has about as much absorption as nitrogen which is said to be “transparent” to IR and so is methane.

    This methane myth was invented by berzerk vegans out to destroy the cattle industry. They would prefer to have us farting along with them and all their bean dishes.

    For ideas, science and humor see The Two Minute Conservative at: for radio/TV hosts, opinion page editors and you. Also on Kindle.

  34. Steve, sorry, but I get aggravated when everyone uses the term “carbon emissions” instead of “CO2 emissions”. I believe that the left intentionally uses the term “carbon emissions” or “carbon footprint” to alarm those not AGW-literate. I think those with a poor science background are prone to think that coal dust is what the term “carbon emissions” implies. I certainly would not want to be breathing carbon or coal dust into my lungs. It reminds me of the term “ocean acidification”, the reduction of ocean alkalinity, another alarmist term, as if the oceans were turning to acid.

  35. Good lord, this answers the question of how many cliche’s and lib/dem talking points can be crammed into one 12 line comment. Pretty impressive……
    Now get your head out of your butt, and TRY to think rationally and logically. CO2 is not a pollutant… despite the pronouncements of all the leftist /marxist bureaucrats and psuedo scientists at EPA.

  36. Rather than worry about CO2, we should be more concerned with methane(CH4) wich is more harmeful.

  37. jimkarlok – Domestic production fluctuates with prices. As demand drops or supply on the globe increases, we reduce our own production commensurate with the profit to be made. Our costs, inflated as they are by 1st world wages, make it unprofitable to produce as much oil at lower oil prices….so reducing consumption does NOT reduce imports.

  38. Hmmmmm…… just wondering…. that haunting name, Carson……do we have perhaps the offspring or sibling of that fraud Rachel???….

  39. Reducing oil imports? Don’t hold your breath. Our economy, the world economy revolves around oil. And that’s not a bad thing. After all, is there a more efficient energy source? The only way to reduce oil imports is to increase domestic oil production. This idea hasn’t gained a lot of traction in Washington because it makes sense, and our elected officials don’t seem to want to do anything that makes sense! It appears that solar and wind power will always be a secondary source of energy, only because neither one can be as efficient as oil, gas and coal. There will always be a few whackos who want to live in little grass huts on the edge of someone else’s property and run their lives around their solar paneled roof… but for the rest of us, it isn’t happening!

  40. Steve Milloy: —-Reducing oil imports is a canard. Can’t be done (oil is a global commodity),
    JK:—- Reducing consumption should reduce the need to import oil as domestic production remains constant (or increasing if the greens & Obama would allow it). Conceivable, at some point, most driving might be done on coal/natural gas fired electricity, instead of imported oil. And reducing consumption will also put downward pressure on prices.

    Steve Milloy: —- and should not be done (trade is good and there is no substitute for gasoline).
    JK: —- I’m thinking of balance of trade deficit. (BTW, you can also make gasoline from coal & natural gas.)


  41. Well, it could be coming from completely clean nuclear power, but the envirowhackos have squelched almost all development in that area.

  42. You know V.W. must be laughing all the way to the bank! When I was still in the Marine Corps stationed at Quantico, Va. I purchased my first new car, a 1982. A V.W. 4D, 5-Speed, w/Air and power assist stearing, “Diesel” Jetta Sedan. After I had it for about 6 months I took leave and drove it home to Florida to visit my parents. I decided to drive it “exactly” the way the owners manual stated to drive it. Long story short – it got slightly better mileage than the sticker highway which was 54 MPG. Rather I got exactly 54.7 MPG. Come on folks, have we gone backwards with technology? I really don’t think so. The diesel engine cars of today are more effecient and have converters on the exhaust which meet epa standards. Of course the draw back now is that the price of Diesel is jacked up higher than gasoline, so there is little benefit to going Diesel. Bio fuels are fine if you have your own acreage to grow your own corn but sugar cane is a better yield per BTU but none are as good as petroleum, so what is the benefit here as well. Hydroger is not a fuel source itself because you have to use energy “hint hint” to break out the H-atoms from the O-atoms. And America really wants to go green. The question still remains – who is going to pay for it? Give me a break! Please stop tinkling down the back if my neck while trying to convence me its a warm rain.

    Semper Fi.

  43. I was a young man when Ford ballyhooed the Edsel. Without massive Big Brother subsidy, this one should have the same fate.
    Buy an automobile, not an experiment.

  44. Well, how about the energy cost of producing pounds of copper for the auto motors and wind generators, plastic for wind turbines, silicon plate for solar panels? These items do not come from nature. ( Granted; Iron for an engine block is not produced at no energy cost, either.)

    Will the trade-in value of the Volt vary with copper futures?? Think of it as gold in your garage? Will they be stolen for their windings? This is gonna be good!

    Will stealing a Volt soon be classified as a hate crime??

  45. Reducing oil imports is a canard. Can’t be done (oil is a global commodity), doesn’t need to be done (there is plenty of it), and should not be done (trade is good and there is no substitute for gasoline). Steve

  46. The real issues in not Al Gore’s fraud, but the Volt’s potential to reduce oil imports. The average American car gets about 12,000 miles/year, or 32 miles per day. Volts’ 35 mile range means that many people will not use gasoline in their daily travels. Only on longer trips and vacations, and since it is not pure electric, you CAN take those long trips in your daily driving vehicle.


  47. …and just wait until trade-in time ! With a $10K battery around year 7, you probably won’t be able to give it away ……….

  48. The article makes a great point about electrical cars, but it misses the CO2 emissions from the oil refinery. It draws the mass balance boundary incorrectly, if the electrical generating station is included it should also include the refinery. We produce 4MM tons of CO2 per year and produce about 125 MBPD mogas, 60 MBPD Diesel and 80 MBPD of Jet. By gallon that works out to 2lb CO2 per gallon of fuel (assuming they are all require equal processing, and they don’t). I suspect it should also include the CO2 emissions from the coal mining or natural gas drilling as well to add to the electrical side of the balance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter the greenies don’t understand logical reasoning anyways.

  49. Good point about fuel and energy needed to drill and refine oil. However, coal also has it’s front-end energy requirement to mine, haul and transport.

    I think Mr. Milloy’s assessment neglects electricity from nuclear, hydro and renewables. If these are factored in then the Volt wins out (much to my own chagrin). God help us if the feds ever impose CCS on coal plants.

    The true argument is as he presented. It depends on which region you live and the mix of electricity sources.

  50. No, Rudy. It is not going to waste if you are not charging your car. If you do not consume it by plugging into the grid with some appliance (such as the charger for your Volt) it just goes down the wires to somewhere else. If no one is using it, the power plant idles. Did you think that if you do not have your faucet open that the water in your water main is wasted? Same principle.

  51. If you’re going to tabulate costs, tabulate ALL the costs. Don’t start with a gallon of gas. Now add in the carbon costs to drill for oil, extract the oil from the ground, transport the oil across the ocean by tanker, refine the oil into gas, transport the gas by rail, transport the gas by truck, pumpt the gas at the gas station. Don’t forget the oil changes to the ineffecient internal combustion engine. Add in the cost of funding wars to secure and defend our oil interests, the immorality of funding petro-dictators, and now the Chevy Volt is looking pretty damn good.

  52. Sorry Chevy…The Volt is an historical flop. Yes, Obama and Immelt of GE cooked up a deal whereby GE will buy 50000 Volts…So what, Prius has crossed the million mark. For too many years, Detroit served up junk to the American people. We remember the brand new Impala that drove like a go-cart on the freeway…Obama, the UAW, and Chevy have spawned bastard step-child. Too bad for the American taxpayer who were forced to pay for the Detroit trash!

  53. CO2 is a trace gas in air and insignificant by definition It is a poor absorber of IR energy from sunlight. Water vapor is seven times better at IR absorption and has 80 times as many molecules generating 560 times the heating effect or 99.8% of it. CO2 does 0.2% of all atmospheric heating. So why ruin our economy for an insignificant gas?

    Carbon is 84% of all petroleum and even more of coal. They make 80% of all US energy. The control and taxing of carbon will give more political/economic power to the elected ruling class than anything since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 AD ending the divine right of kings, transferring it to the elected bastards.

    Ideas, science and humor at The Two Minute Conservative, for you, radio/TV hosts and opinion page editors. Free all day and on Kindle too!

  54. excelent article,, but i have one question , as electricity is produced , it is always runing and been produced,,if we use it by storing it in the car is not going to waste! if we charge at night, some how i think in my ignorance, is not produccing any more carbon emitions ! right ? or am missing something ?

  55. I skimmed through and may have missed this, but…..we have to keep in mind that charging is not 100% efficient. I don’t know the figures for the Volt’s battery, but nickel-cadmium cells require about 160% of the deliverable energy (the 100%) in charging energy. In invented numbers, 16kWh charging energy would be required to deliver only 10 kWh on discharge.


  56. This is a charitable to say AC to DC converters are 100 percent efficient. Goggle gives 90 percent. Electricity in Hawaii and parts of Florida is generated with oil. The Volt only gets the equivalent of 30 mpg on its batteries going back to the source of electric power generation. This is poor performance for such a little car. Competitive cars of that size would get 40 mpg. The Volt should be banned in Hawaii because it will contribute to more oil use. James H. Rust

    I think a similar analysis will come up for all electric cars if used in Hawaii.

  57. Don’t forget the COST of charging up the Chevy Dolt. Depending on the KWH rate at the charging site, the cost of the electricity consumed to charge the battery could be nearly the same as the cost of the gasoline a conventional car would have used to cover the same distance.

  58. Steve

    It may be small potatoes, I don’t know, but how much CO2 is produced to drill, process, refine and deliver each gallon of gas. Seems for your analysis to be complete you would have to calculate that in as well since I assume it is the production side of electricity that produces the CO2 you write about.

    Let me be clear, you won’t find a more skeptical person on the face of the planet than I when it comes to AGW. I just think our side has to do the full analysis.

    So, what does it cost in CO2 production to build and eventually dispose of a Volt as compared to a like sized and powered pure gasoline burning car. my guess is the Volt still comes out on top in terms of the CO2 total production equation. (By on top I mean the Volt will add more CO2 to the atmosphere than its fully gas guzzeling brethern.)

    Just my thoughts

  59. I’m amazed how few “science editors” take the time to educate their readers about the difference between an “energy source” and an “energy store.” Energy SOURCES add to humanity’s net stock of energy. They have to be discovered, mined, and exploited. These include coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, wind, and solar. Energy STORES are nothing more than ways to convert energy from one form to another. These include batteries, compressed air, and hydrogen (at least until the day comes when we can send space scoops out to collect new raw hydrogen). Progressives who choke up at the word “exploit” like to pretend that fancy new storage mechanisms like those mentioned above are new “sources” of energy, but they aren’t.

  60. I think that the accident records as well as maintenance/repair stats for these hybrid or electric cars will be interesting and probably have another pot full of ‘unexpected’ problems and expenses to add to the owner’s sob stories!.

  61. Just another fad toy for the wanna be kewel kids society. I’ll give electric cars points though for use in highly concentrated urban areas as you then export the pollution (no, not CO2, the truly bad stuff) to areas with greater ability to dissipate these through natural means.

  62. It is amazing to me how many people think that an electric car causes no pollution as if the electricity comes from nowhere.

  63. But it’s the charging that matters — not the consumption rate. The Co2 is emitted as the battery fully charges.

  64. I’m with you 100% on phony AGW and CO2 not being a pollutant.
    However, I do have an issue with your assertions about the Volt (yes, I have one).
    The battery capacity is 16kWh, but not all of that is used. If you look at the window sticker that you linked to, you’ll see the electric power consumption rated as 36kWh/100mi. That’s 0.36kWh/mi. Multiplied by 1.2 lbsCO2/kWh is 0.43 lbsCO2/mi. So, it causes LESS CO2 in electric mode than in gas mode. But we don’t care about CO2 anyway.
    The Volt is a cool car to drive. It’s nice looking, has a bunch of features, and it IS technology-rich. Will it reduce pollution? I don’t know…maybe. Will it save me money in the long run? Probably not….a $10k battery would pay for a load of gas. I like it, though, and I was willing to pay the premium for it. Millions of people pay premiums for their non-economy cars…it’s worth it to THEM.

  65. Great Analysis! Amusing to read as well. But you really did not have to expend the time as the public has spoken. And 110 cars a month is not going to keep the assembly lines going.

    But Good Job never-the-less!

  66. The Chevy Volt is called an electric car. How can a car be electric when its has a tail pipe for internal combustion engine exhaust?

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