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John Petersen is executive vice president and chief financial officer of ePower Engine Systems, Inc., a company that has developed, built and demonstrated an engine-dominant diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain for long-haul heavy trucks that promises fuel savings of 25 to 35 percent depending on... More
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  • Lies, Damned Lies and MPG Claims for the Volt 10 comments
    Aug 12, 2009 12:27 PM

    According to Wikipedia, "Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is part of a phrase attributed to the 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and popularized by Mark Twain. The new champion of the genre has to be GM with its obscene claims of 230 mpg for the Volt.

    The Volt is a planned plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that is supposed to get 40 miles of electric only range and then switch over to an internal combustion engine to generate power and keep the battery charged.

    The only way to get to a 230 mpg figure for the Volt is to assume a daily commute of 46 miles a day for a 5-day work week. That way you get 40 miles per day from nightly charging (200 miles) and 6 miles per day (30 miles) from the internal combustion engine. Put it all together and VOILA, 230 MPG, an altogether meaningless number.

    Abraham Lincoln is oft quoted for saying "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time." Exactly who does GM think they're fooling?

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  • Michael D.
    , contributor
    Comments (173) | Send Message
     
    Actually, why not cut the statistical commute to 40 km? In which case the gas engine never runs. Where is the infinity key on my keyboard?
    12 Aug 2009, 01:44 PM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6282) | Send Message
     
    The problem here is not statistically based, it’s a failure of basic mathematics/ logic.

     

    On reading the article they made three assumptions. One assumption is that the mileage for their Internal Combustion engine is 50 miles per gallon. Another assumption assumes the range for the battery pack (E-Range) is 40 miles. Although not mentioned, a third assumption is that the average number of miles driven per year is 12,000.

     

    On that basis the formula that defines miles per gallon is as follows:

     

    Miles/Gal = (Daily Commute X 50)
    ----------------------...
    (Daily Commute - 40)

     

    How do I know they assumed the average number of miles driven per year was 12,000? If you divide 12,000 by 365, you get 32.8767. If you plug that value into the formula you get -230.769. Ignoring the negative sign and rounding up you get 231MPG. 12,000 miles per year is a common industry standard. For example look at "Step three" in the following link from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

     

    www.epa.gov/OMS/climat...

     

    Of course who every prepared GM's statement missed the fact that you can't ignore that negative sign which is indicating that the average miles driven per day at 12,000 per year is less than the E-Range. In other words, the formula is valid only for average miles per day in excess of the E-Range, or 14,600 (40 X 365) miles per year. So the 231 number actually represents a logical error.

     

    In this situation, MPG is dependent on the number of miles driven per year. Here is what it works out to for different miles per year, assuming the Internal Combustion engine gets 50 miles per gallon, and the E-Range is 40 miles.

     

    M/Year Av M/Day Av M/Gal
    20,000 54.79 185.18
    25,000 68.49 120.19
    30,000 82.19 97.40
    35,000 95.89 85.78
    40,000 109.58 78.74
    50,000 136.99 70.62
    12 Aug 2009, 02:49 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30629) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Michael and User, regardless of the mathematics, I think the EPAs active complicity in the creation of a mileage disclosure standard that conveys no meaningful information to the consumer is beyond unconscionable. I'm not foolish enough to believe that governments always tell the truth, but setting standards of acceptable deception for industry is beyond the pale.

     

    In any event, if this continues for long, it will be the full employment act of 2010 for lawyers who handle deceptive trade practice litigation.
    12 Aug 2009, 06:18 PM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6282) | Send Message
     
    The 230 MPG claim might have been deliberately deceptive, although I do note the claim could be based on a mathematical error as opposed to pre-supposing an intent to deceive. So did GM intend to deceive, or did they make an honest mistake? That kind of question is more in your profession than mine.

     

    The point of the formula is that there is NO SINGLE acceptable average MPG figure since with hybrid vehicles any MPG estimate is a function of the average number of miles driven per year. From that I conclude that the EPA should make manufacturers provide a table of estimated MPG's based on average miles driven per year. If you drive 25,000 miles per year, average MPG would be 120.2. That's not bad, but given the price GM is thinking about asking, I doubt people are going to be buying Volts on the basis of valuation.

     

    Here is a question to consider. Is it a coincidence that the Governments suggested tax rebate for a Volt purchase amounts to about 20% of its suggested sticker price? Is that the reason the Volt is so pricy? Does the Volt represent a sneaky way to subsidize GM with tax payers dollars?
    12 Aug 2009, 09:47 PM Reply Like
  • Jack Lifton
    , contributor
    Comments (430) | Send Message
     
    John,

     

    This "controversy" makes me think of the World War II American admiral who while retreating from superior Japanese forces radioed "I am retiring before the enemy with all deliberate speed." I don't think the EPA or DOT is "actively complicit" in any deception of anyone other than themselves.

     

    I did the same calculation as you have done and came to the same conclusion.

     

    I have a new marketing approach for GM for the Volt:

     

    "The Chevrolet Volt, the car that makes decisons on travel distance for you. Never again worry about getting anywhere more distant than 40 miles in a reasonable amount of time. Let your car make the decison for you. Admire the scenery as you wait hours for a recharge, or, better yet, admire the neighborhood as you walk looking for a recharging capability in an area with which you are not familiar.

     

    See America the Volt Way
    In your Chevrolet
    Walking
    13 Aug 2009, 11:00 AM Reply Like
  • ohnjatuck
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    I usually don't post on websites like this; I tend to let others do the talking and just listen to all angles, but after reading this comment I simply couldn't refrain.

     

    Learn the difference between an electric car and a plug-in HYBRID before you spout nonsense like this on a public forum. A 40 mile "electric range" doesn't mean you have to stop an plug in your car every 40 miles. After 40 miles, the car becomes identical to any other 'hybrid' car; a sized-down IC engine keeps the batteries charged at the expense of fuel, and regenerative braking helps keep fuel efficiency higher than that of gasoline only cars (where the engine powers the wheels directly).

     

    Plug-in hybrids are probably this nation's best bet at curbing our ridiculous levels of foreign oil consumption, and it's ignorant people like you who jump on slash bandwagons that hurt popular support for progressive development. The fact is, even if you commute 80 miles a day in a Volt, you're burning almost half the gas of a standard HYBRID car.
    12 Mar 2010, 04:44 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30629) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » You gotta love commenters who like to help put out fires with ethanol.
    13 Aug 2009, 11:52 AM Reply Like
  • car_guy
    , contributor
    Comments (128) | Send Message
     
    Jack,

     

    No matter how cute or sarcastic you say it, doesn't make it true. The Volt has a range of 300 miles. The 40 mile range is for electric only.

     

    Do some research, you'd be surprised what you learn.

     

    On Aug 13 11:00 AM Jack Lifton wrote:

     

    > John,
    >
    > This "controversy" makes me think of the World War II American admiral
    > who while retreating from superior Japanese forces radioed "I am
    > retiring before the enemy with all deliberate speed." I don't think
    > the EPA or DOT is "actively complicit" in any deception of anyone
    > other than themselves.
    >
    > I did the same calculation as you have done and came to the same
    > conclusion.
    >
    > I have a new marketing approach for GM for the Volt:
    >
    > "The Chevrolet Volt, the car that makes decisons on travel distance
    > for you. Never again worry about getting anywhere more distant than
    > 40 miles in a reasonable amount of time. Let your car make the decison
    > for you. Admire the scenery as you wait hours for a recharge, or,
    > better yet, admire the neighborhood as you walk looking for a recharging
    > capability in an area with which you are not familiar.
    >
    > See America the Volt Way
    > In your Chevrolet
    > Walking
    13 Aug 2009, 06:08 PM Reply Like
  • BlakeRudy
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
     
    Well, it turns out that the EPA is indeed actively complicit in lying to Americans about the equivalent miles per gallon of gasoline (MPGe) energy efficiency of electric vehicles

     

    See page 7 of the following EPA Report:

     

    www.epa.gov/fueleconom...

     

    I quote:

     

    >>>>>&g...
    A group of individuals with demonstrated experience in changing social norms was recruited to participate in a daylong consultation. Panel members came from a variety of fields in advertising, national educational campaigns and product introduction. Feedback received from this group was critical because of their unique history of creating dramatic shifts in social change and influencing product preference over short periods of time. In addition to providing feedback on prototype label designs as constructed following the three phases of focus groups, panelists were asked to provide guidance on increasing the value of and preference for more efficient vehicles.
    >>>>>&g...

     

    "creating dramatic shifts in social change and influencing product preference"?!?!?

     

    And here I thought the job of the EPA was to protect our environment. Silly me.

     

    The true measure for equating electricity to a gallon of gasoline was officially established by the Department of Energy. Where the EPA fraudulently uses 33,705 KWH/gal, the DOE policy mandates that it be 12,307 KWH/gal which accounts for the fuel required to generate and transmit electricity. Yes it also accounts for the fuel required to produce, refine, and deliver gasoline.

     

    Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,
    10 CFR Part 474
    Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Program; Petroleum-Equivalent Fuel Economy Calculation; Final Rule,
    June 12, 2000

     

    which states specifically that:

     

    When comparing gasoline vehicles with electric vehicles, it is essential to consider the efficiency of the respective ‘‘upstream’’ processes in the two fuel cycles. ...the critical difference is that a gasoline vehicle burns its fuel on-board the vehicle, and an electric vehicle burns its fuel (the majority of electricity in the U.S. is generated at fossil fuel burning power-plants) off-board the vehicle. In both cases, the burning of fuels to produce work is the least efficient step of the respective energy cycles.

     

    Per that same Department of Energy policy, the gasoline-equivalent energy content of electricity (Eg) is calculated as follows:

     

    Eg = (Tg * Tt * C)/Tp
    Eg = (0.328 * 0.924 * C)/0.830 = 0.365 * C = 0.365 * 33,705 = 12,307 Wh/gal (Wh/gal is Watt*Hours per gallon of gasoline equivalent)

     

    where:

     

    Tg = U.S. average fossil-fuel electricity generation efficiency = 0.328
    Tt = U.S. average electricity transmission efficiency = 0.924
    Tp = Petroleum refining and distribution efficiency = 0.830
    C = Watt-hours of energy per gallon of gasoline conversion factor = 33,705 Wh/gal

     

    see frwebgate.access.gpo.g...
    17 Feb 2011, 04:34 PM Reply Like
  • siliconhillbilly
    , contributor
    Comments (2743) | Send Message
     
    BlkeRudy, thanks for the DOE doc reference. That material should save a lot of pissing and moaning in discussions with Battery Vehicle EVangelists.

     

    Ya gotta love the EPA. Their motto should be "political and funding survival at any cost".
    9 Jun 2011, 02:03 AM Reply Like
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