Fleet-Operated Chevy Volts Rarely, If Ever, Plugged In

Chevrolet-Volt-Infographic080714Chevrolet is rightly proud that of the 500,000,000-plus miles driven by its Volts since its introduction, nearly two thirds — 63 percent — were done using “grid electricity.”

However, Green Car Reports lists at least two major examples in the last couple years of Volts being almost exclusively driven on gasoline power alone, greatly reducing their efficiency to the point that a more conventional vehicle would have performed better. The culprits are essentially large fleets, who are apparently either ignorant of the technologies or economics involved, or unwilling to change their internal reimbursement systems.

The first came from InsideEVs, who GCR says “related the story of a group of used 2012 and 2013 Volts for sale, with high mileages (30,000 to 100,000 miles) but lifetime blended fuel-economy readings of only 34 to 39 miles per gallon. Readings of 80 to 100 mpg (blended) are common among owners who use their Volts 40 miles a day or less and recharge the cars overnight.”

The seller, Jason Edwards of Mater Motors, had confirmed that he’d purchased them from various fleets, and that “…fleet owners have taken advantage of government and state incentives,” but because “…operators are often reimbursed for the gas they buy, but not the electricity in their home for plugging them in, they just drive them.”

GCR also points to an earlier Dutch study in 2012 of 60 various plug-in and range-extended electric vehicles leased by fleet leasing company Arval. The results? Those vehicles used 80 percent more fuel than their respective European consumption ratings, with one Opel Ampera — a Volt in thin disguise — having the worst observed fuel economy of the test at 30.2 mpg.

The lesson? Educate the fleet owners to reimburse operators for whatever type of consumption they use, whether by plug at home or on the road, or at the gas station. If hydrogen fuel cell vehicles ever reach even the limited adoption range currently held by other electrified vehicles, perhaps this would be one less issue they’ll have to deal with?