Study: Chevy Volt Owners Spent Just $300 To Drive 10,000 Miles

For all the negativity surrounding the Chevy Volt, people who have bought GM’s plug-in hybrid are among the happiest car owners in America. How can that be? A recent case study in Scientific American looked at the Volt’s energy consumption and emissions and compared it to the most popular hybrid on the market, the Toyota Prius, and in every category the Volt comes out way ahead.

Writer Evelyn Lamb’s parents are early adopters who purchased a Chevy Volt a year ago, rather than a Corvette (!!). Using available websites to track her parents’ energy usage, Lamb was able to come to the conclusion that by every metric, the Volt saves money and reduces emissions compared to the Prius.

First the numbers; in the 11 months of available data, Lamb’s parents drove 10,102 miles, about average for a typical American family. In that time, the Volt ran on just electricity for 9,186 miles, almost 91% of the time, using 2,437 kWh of electricity. This includes almost 40 miles of daily work commute, done almost entirely on battery power.The other 9% required using the gas generator, though in 11 months Lamb’s parents have used just 24.4 gallons of gasoline. I know people who go through that much in a week!

At an electrical rate of $0.0885 per kWh, which is what Lamb’s parents pay, the total electricity cost has been just $215.67, plus another $85.95 in gas. Total energy cost for 11 months of driving? $301.62.

Put another way, Evelyn Lamb’s parents have spent about $30 per 1,000 miles of driving, or about 3-cents per mile. There is not a single car on the market that can come even close to that kind of monetary efficiency. Even the mighty Toyota Prius, at 50 mpg, would cost about $700, or 7-cents per mile, to drive. No wonder Chevy Volt sales have been steadily climbing.

It isn’t just the wallet that benefits either. Lamb estimates that between electricity usage and gasoline, her parents’ Volt has emitted approximately 3,734 pounds of CO2. The Toyota Prius, driving the same mileage, would have emitted 3,958 pounds of CO2.

Granted, if Lamb’s parents did more long range driving, the Prius would no doubt pull ahead in total emissions and cost savings. However, Lamb’s parents driving habits seem perfectly average in today’s America, so while there are no doubt driving outliers who would better benefit from a Prius, many Americans would find the Volt to be the better bargain. Funnyman Jay Leno managed to go over 11,000 miles on just a half a tank of gas, netting approximately 2,365 mpg. Dizzam.

Haters gonna hate, but the evidence seems to be favoring the Volt and other plug-in hybrid vehicles more and more. Read the whole article for yourself, or just go visit any of the many Volt fan sites where owners regularly post eye-popping numbers on gas and money saved. While the numbers won’t convince all the skeptics, they certainly make a compelling case for those sitting on the fence.

Source: Scientific American

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.