Bankruptcy? What bankruptcy? New GM emerged from a gov’ment cradled bankrupcty filing just a month ago, but it seems like business as usual at the former American manufacturing giant. At a press conference this mornig, New GM CEO Fritz Henderson wasted no time explaining a recent marketing campaign involving the numbers 23 and a smiling electrical outlet.
230 “composite” miles per gallon for the Chevy Volt, city rating of course. 230 miles per gallon? What kind of voodoo magic are they putting in those batteries?
UPDATE: This rating has not been verified by the EPA, but is based on a new system for rating the equivalency of electric-hybrid cars. Since the Volt can go up to 40 miles on electricity alone before its flex-fuel engine kicks in to recharge the engine. This rating is a “draft proposal”, as the EPA is still working out exactly how to classify electric cars in a way that everybody can understand, and this will apply to all car makers. Per 100 miles, the Volt uses 25 kWh of electricity; for comparision, an electric blanket used for 120 hours uses 24 kWh. Fritz estimates that off-peak in Detriot, it costs just $.40 to fully recharge the Volt, about a penny a mile.
While they wouldn’t elaborate on the specifics of the EPA “draft proposal” rating since it is not yet set in stone, it could make an excellent selling point for the much ballyhooed (and expensive though yet un-priced) Volt. A 230 MPG rating would also allow GM to pursue vehicles like the Camaro SS and ZR-1 Corvette, which guzzle gas greedily. But is GM getting ahead of itself?
EDIT FOR CLARIFICATION: The EPA rating comes from electric-only driving with the Volt’s gas engine running in charge-sustaining mode. This is urban driving only. No specifics on how the EPA got this rating such as the external temperature or how it is driven, and this rating could change between now and the Volt’s launch. But for now this makes the Volt the first car with a triple-digit gas mileage rating.
New GM is about more than the Volt however. Cut down to just four core brands, New GM is taking what they can from discontinued cars and applying them to those vehicles that remain. One such vehicle is the once-promised Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid. Both Saturn and the Vue are no more, but the plug-in hybrid technology is being ushered into a newly-announced Buick hybrid vehicle. Not yet named or priced, this small SUV hybrid will be offered with either a 2.4 liter or 3.0 V6 engine, both flex-fuel capable engines. While it won’t have the same electric range as the Volt, the Buck hybrid should see a gas mileage rating in excess of 40 MPG. This would place it far above the current SUV hybrids like the Ford Escape or Toyota Highlander hybrids. Plus, marketing it as a Buick places it in a higher price bracket and allows it to be sold in China, a huge market for Buick and GM right now.
Finally, something completely unrelated to alternative fuel. New GM is planning to sell some of its inventory on eBay, starting in California, and allowing people to bid and compete for prices on cars. An interesting idea, something no other manufacturer has tried yet. Would you buy a new car from eBay?