230mpg: tAhe EPA needs to modify its calculations

Posted By on August 11, 2009

After reading and commenting on an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning regarding the upcoming Chevrolet Volt boasting 230 mpg, about all Chevy VoltI can say is we (the EPA) needs to create a new system of calculating fuel economy. It’s a bit misleading for a family sized sedan to be able to claim that it can beat a VW 1 liter1 liter vehicle designed for efficiency; its just plain deceptive to even repeat it. On the other hand, I do like the fact that GM is pulling out all the stops in order to compete with hybrid leaders like Toyota and Honda … and seriously wish them well in the gamble … one that I wish would have included diesel technology.

Here’s a snippet from one of my comments:

Call me a skeptic, but I’m more concerned with the total cost of ownership … initial investment + fuel + maintenance ‘minus’ retail value after say 5 to 10 years ‘divided by’ number of miles driven.

When that matches something like a Volkswagen TDI ‘clean diesel’ … then I be convinced that they are on the right path.

or …

Personally I think the old smaller hybrid ‘boost’ motor (or compressed air) linked to an efficient and clean diesel makes more sense. A small diesel is super efficient at highway cruise (American roads) and would be appreciably helped by boost when accelerator demand calls for it.

As for your ‘initial investment’ assumption … I’ll pit the diesel VWs against the Volt  and even the BMW 3 series diesel against it. Take a look at 60% of the vehicles in Europe as the initial investment is not “a lot higher” as on respondent suggests.

On the other hand, they are not wildly supported by companies other than the Europeans due to biased EPA measurements toward gasoline and about a 15% tax disadvantage (also US consumer still remember the old diesels — there is no comparison). Too bad memories and manufacturers still want to promote gasoline as the new diesel technology is more efficient … and CLEAN — do a Google search for the 2009 Green Car of the Year (hint: 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI) As for other U.S. vehicles besides light trucks … the list is currently mostly European: VW, Mercedes, BMW. Audi and Jeep.

The demand is strong for a moderately priced diesel too … take a look at VW sales and try to find a TDI or even negotiate on one. 🙂 June numbers for the VW Sportwagen TDI were 81% of all their wagon sales … I’m sure the 40 – 50 mpg doesn’t hurt. If you’ve got a clunker and want part of the Obama stimulus thinking one of these VWs would be perfect (and you would be right), don’t bother since nearly all the 2009 are gone and they are waiting for 2010 models in November – get on the list.

My point is still that a moderately price diesel (VW TDI $24,000) would make far more sense when stacked up against the Volt when we’re talking total cost of ownership (and resale is currently stronger than about any other daily driver).


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