How charged are the high Volt claims?

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency isn’t sure whether General Motors’ triple digit mileage claims will meet the road for its Chevrolet Volt when it is released next year.

The ailing automaker announced Tuesday following a viral marketing campaign that its forthcoming plug-in car will have an estimated fuel economy of 230 miles per gallon. The Chevrolet Volt would  run 40 miles on its charge before tapping into the gasoline reserve.

The EPA has yet to confirm GM’s claims, according to the agency’s response to the Green Car Advisor blog through Edmunds Inc.

The EPA statement said:

EPA has not tested a Chevy Volt and therefore cannot confirm the fuel economy values claimed by GM. ¬†EPA does applaud GM’s commitment to designing and building the car of the future – an American-made car that will save families money, significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create good-paying American jobs. We’re proud to see American companies and American workers leading the world in the clean energy innovations that will shape the 21st century economy.

Competitors in the electric car market have yet to break the 100 mpg barrier in terms of EPA rating, although Nissan has made assertions, similar to GM’s, that its Leaf vehicle would get 367 mpg.

Toyota’s recognizable Prius hybrid, for instance, receives a fuel efficiency of 51 from the department.

In response to questions about the Volt’s potential EPA rating, the Green Car Advisor took a look at the mileage claims.

Senior Editor John O’Dell writes:

That the Volt might or might not get the equivalent of 230 miles per
gallon doesn’t mean it actually would go 230 miles if you put a single
gallon of gas in its tank and sent it out to find its way in the world. That’s preposterous.

The EPA’s mileage rating for electric vehicles delves into the hypothetical realm of gas mileage equivalence and not true miles and gallons, according to the article. The fuel efficiency ratings for electric vehicles, though different than for traditional vehicles, still depend on how the vehicle is being driven.

Industry analysts remain skeptical as well, according to an article in the New York Times Wednesday, because “GM has a poor track record of introducing green technology into the market.”

The Volt’s true traveling capacity will be proven down the road when the vehicle is released in 2011. The question is whether 230 miles in the green direction are enough to carry GM where it needs to go.

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