40 Miles to the Charge

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I’ve heard some… odd comments on the new Chevy Volt and just wanted to point something out.  The above line ’40 miles to the charge’ is being said with a negative connotation… even suggesting that the battery should be the backup to the gas engine.  The average commute is 20 miles.. and this was the target for the battery capacity… so lets do a little back of the envelope math.

Around here.. power costs about 9 cents per KWh and in round numbers this car will let you use about 9 KWH from the battery before it will fire up the gas engine to recharge internally. Assuming you can make a 40 mile commute and plugin when returning home.. drawing that power from the utility.. that would be a daily cost of about 82 cents.  The average passenger car on the road today gets 23 mpg  or about 1.7 gal of gas for that same commute which, at current prices (2.60/gal), would be about $4.52 per day.  There are other factors of course.. both positive and negative.. like ‘spirited’ driving and regenerative braking but those numbers put a ballpark on the fuel costs.  So over a month of commutes 5 days a week the costs are about $16.40 for the Volt vs.  $90.40 for the non hybrid. Over a year that puts fuel costs at about $197 vs. $1085 just for that first 40 miles per day of travel.

That’s a pretty good savings.. even with gas prices being as low as they are currently.  Now I’m not going to pretend you aren’t paying a premium for any hybrid.. but you would use a ton less petroleum and that’s a good thing.