Should Chevy Volt Remain A 'Political Punching Bag?'

After reading yet one more screed yesterday against President Obama, “Government Motors,” and the Chevrolet Volt – replete with out-of-context snippets to support a preconceived premise demonizing the subjects at hand – I wish to make a proposal.

Can we just move on from pasting the image of the Chevy Volt to the center of the rhetorical dartboard with Obama’s picture also pinned up behind it?

I was prompted to this notion after interviewing two other writers yesterday whose sentences were grabbed to make points they actually disagree with. Also my own name and that of which I run were culled into the verbal whirlwind whipped up by a political blogger bent on proving “the very ugly truth” about the sitting president.

Using the Volt to make an inductive leap against the allegedly failed bailout, she cited my June news brief, “Volt Records Second-Best Sales Month While Leaf Still Looks Withered.” My piece was written, she said, “with all of the jubilation one could expect from someone whose job is to push the sales of ‘auto alternatives for the 21st century.’”

Hey, can you leave me out of your drama-laden surface analysis please? Read the straightforward report again if you think it sounds like jubilation. My job is actually to be a journalist who covers this industry. Please focus your displeasure with Obama appropriately, and leave out harmless bystanders. Thanks!

It’s actually pretty funny to be called out like this on one level, but sadly this tendency to mis-characterize Volt facts to paint “ugly” pictures about Obama – while so 2011 – is recurring as we draw closer to November.

Entities including Fox and Herman Cain whose video lambastes “Obama’s Baby” are back at it just when it looked like Volt/GM/Obama attacks were simmering down.

So watch out if you even think of getting in the way by saying anything positive about the Volt.

But since my job is to report facts, I’ll take a chance anyway, and will even concede critics are correct: The Volt has certainly benefited from political favor…

From both parties!

Take for example the $7,500 federal tax subsidies for plug-in cars initiated by President George W. Bush about whom Fox News ran a syndicated opinion piece last year saying Bush is the “Father of the Modern Electric Car.”

Whether that’s true, what’s certain is GM dreamed up the Volt well before Obama was in office and the auto industry bailouts he carried through.

In January 2006, after viewing the Tesla Roadster at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Bob Lutz inspired also by GM engineer Jon Lauckner led a meeting of GM brass and engineers centered around the question, “Tesla can do this, and we can’t?” The gathering ended with a mandate to develop a plug-in electric car that would debut at the 2007 Detroit show. It would be a “unique and profound concept vehicle that delivered eye-popping reduction in petroleum consumption.”


One year later, the Volt Concept was the star of the 2007 show and has garnered more press than any new vehicle in GM’s hundred-plus year history.

But the production Volt has since become a gleam in Obama’s eye too, even as in 2009 he approved the bailouts begun under TARP by Bush, and Obama also envisioned an unlikely goal of one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

Alas, some of his dream was based on early sales projections by GM, but GM did not specifically validate Obama’s million EV goal. And since the end of 2011, GM has shied away from making definitive sales projections.

Unfortunately, the Volt has since been given Obama Poster Boy status from some folks with an axe to grind even though it has benefited from two parties.

How sad that this car has been so misrepresented, given it has been called one of the most innovative projects to come out of American industry, and is even being exported from Detroit and selling out in Europe as the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera and Chevy Volt.

If Americans could envision and create momentum for what is at stake they might love it even more than a new iPad. The Volt threatens to embark on a road away from oil dependence, not to mention pollution reduction and “national security,” as Bush argued, and “energy security” as is more often said these days.

Yes, like it or not, we have inherited this experiment called the Volt, which is leading a tiny segment of the North American market known as plug-in electric vehicles. Obama loves them, but so did Bush. The segment is growing at a triple digit rate, but true enough – more needs to be proved, technology needs to mature, manufacturing economies of scale would sure help, and accurate consumer information with less issue-obscuring chatter needs to be disseminated, among other goals.

Nonetheless, the electrified vehicle experiment is playing out, and while not taking the world by storm, the Volt is cultivating fans while prompting varying efforts to copy it here and in Europe and China.

Its technology was intended to leapfrog the Toyota Prius and could be a homegrown solution in the U.S. where what it promises is so needed considering we consume gads more oil than we produce.

Here’s a thought I’ve heard some conservatives who like the Volt repeat:

“You will never see a tanker arrive from the Middle East loaded with electricity.”

Energy security is a solid argument given the Volt goes 25-50 miles on domestically produced electricity. Every dollar not spent on foreign oil is (usually) a dollar not spent bolstering regimes which are hostile to the U.S. and its interests around the world. One has to consider the ultimate cost of importing so much of our energy. Fighting wars is a messy, expensive and tragic business.

But if you disagree, you have that right. Freedom of speech is the First Amendment for a reason; it is part of what has made this country great, and I’m all for freedoms responsibly enjoyed. The problem I have is with fuzzy logic meant to lure people to fallacious conclusions that the Volt is complicit in millions or even billions in misappropriated taxpayer dollars.

The actual cost of the Volt was around $1 billion. Auto industry history is littered with examples of blown money on this scale that went nowhere.

More importantly, the Volt does not equal the bailout. They are loosely related but ultimately quite separate issues. The Volt is but one car GM is marketing that involves risk and sales are picking up though by no means to mainstream levels. It’s also paying back in other ways and its intangible value to GM a “halo” car is inestimable, as – now former GM Vice Chairman – Bob Lutz recently said.

“The Chevy Volt single-handedly reversed GM’s declining reputation for innovation and technological excellence,” Lutz said.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons why they keep the Corvette (halo car) around too – which the Volt recently surpassed in sales. GM is now spending plenty to redesign it into the C7 enthusiasts are frothing over, and the critics for some reason do not object to.

So, do you want some more facts?

Like it or not, the Volt is selling better than ever. True, the Volt has not paid for itself yet in showroom sales. So what? That happened for years with the Prius which now 12 years later is being considered its own separate sub-brand and was the third-highest global selling nameplate last quarter.

Want some more random facts?

How about this: Even Bush Sr. purchased a Volt recently for his son, Neil.

Another one is Fox News gave fair time in March this year to conservative media mogul Lee Spieckerman, who asked certain pundits to back off the rhetoric against the Volt, citing its value for energy security.

Lee Spieckerman’s appearance on Fox in March.

Bottom line is the Volt is a solution. Is it an idea whose time has not yet come? Or is it ready now?

A laundry list of accolades and Consumer Reports documenting it as number one in owner satisfaction with a 93-percent approval rating is a pretty good indicator, but if you disagree that’s fine.

Some are still on the fence as it’s new technology. Some don’t fully understand it, others don’t buy the “first” of any new technology on principle, or are otherwise holding back in wait-and-see mode. And at around $40,000-plus, it costs $11,000 more than the average new car – but it’s so inexpensive to operate, based on 15,000 miles per year driving, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance showed it rapidly closes the price differential from cars costing much less.

There are many other reasons why the Volt is considered viable now, and it probably would be best if people could just back off and let it be.

You can also take it from Edward Niedermeyer whose New York Times article was taken out of context in the “ugly truth” piece, who sent me this excerpt today from his latest Volt article from the Truth About Cars which he helps run:

The basic problem with the Volt isn’t that it’s a bad car that nobody could ever want; it is, in fact, quite an engineering achievement and a rather impressive drive. And if GM had said all along that it would serve as an “anti-Corvette,” selling in low volumes at a high price, nobody could now accuse it of failure. Instead, GM fueled totally unrealistic expectations for Volt, equating it with a symbol of its rebirth even before collapsing into bailout. The Obama administration simply took GM’s hype at face value, and saw it as a way to protect against the (flawed) environmentalist argument that GM deserved to die because of “SUV addiction” alone. And between corporate sales/image hype and political hype, the Volt’s expectations were driven to ever more unrealistic heights, from which they are now tumbling… and as a result, the Volt has become the most politicized car since the Corvair. But at this point, the real waste would be if GM did cave to the Volt’s political critics instead of continuing to develop what is a promising, if not yet fully mature, technology.

Or take it from Lyle Dennis, a forward-thinking neurologist who founded which I took over writing for last year, and whose words from a pro-Volt article he wrote in 2010 were misused this week in the aforementioned anti-Volt piece. He has spent years and his own money supporting the Volt for what it can do for this country, and even now is running InsideEVs, and sees the need for what electrification can do:

The Volt is pure and simple a brilliantly designed and executed vehicle that has so far allowed 65 million out of 100 million miles to be driven on electricity collectively across its fleet. The car was designed by Bob Lutz and Jon Lauckner as a clever way to bring electric driving to the masses by eliminating range anxiety. The fact that GM had to be bailed out is unfortunate but irrelevant. New technology always costs more in the beginning and prices come down with economies of scale. This will prove true for electric cars. Blogs about Volt conspiracy theories and links to Obama politics are sad, tired, and at this point quite boring.

And by the way, that makes three managing editors whose work was grabbed and distorted by a freelance writer who glommed together what passes for political news.

On behalf of Internet media, my apologies. We do not all work that way; some of us yet try to uphold standards, and I still don’t expect you to only take my word for it about the Volt.

As I consistently write, it is a qualified decision to buy – or even approve of the Volt. Talk to anyone else you trust who actually knows about it first hand if you want, then decide for yourself what you think about it.

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  • Capt. Concernicus

    I’ll stick to my Prius thank you very much, which I believe is a better car.

  • America1st

    I’ve been with Mr. Dennis Lyle when he first began to envision America released from the crippling grip of foreign oil. I’m happy to say, I’m averaging 108 MPG, and with all the math to add in electric, at around 80 MPG. That’s a world set standard helping break the spell of foreign oil addiction. As a former soldier, I will state, go over and see what happens as the hatred found in many of those oil built countries have for America find funding, the danger rises. We spent nearly $2 trillion dollars on the Iraq wars alone. We could buy every American for 5 years, all of them looking for a car a BRAND NEW CHEVY VOLT, or other electric car and still be way ahead. Furthermore, that fuel is now provided by Americans. When you plug in, you’re helping to hire an american, either mining for coal, drilling for gas, putting up a windmill, or laying down a solar panel. America wins on every front. The shame and the SHAM is what Anti-American activities roused up by Faux News caused to continue our addiction. Criticism is fine, lies are not.

  • America1st

    I absolutely know you haven’t driven a Volt to say that. I do appreciate the enormous contribution made by the Prius. Credit is due for them breaking out first from the pack to look at the future. The Volt and the Prius both have seen my fanny in a seat. The choice was easy, although if no Volts or Teslas were out there, the Prius is certainly a well made, gas efficient car. Try the Volt without bias, just for fun. Who knows, you may own a Prius and a Volt. Both are doing wonderful things for the planet and country. The Volt of course is Made In USA, and FUELED in USA. Great for the country.

  • Markw

    Yes it is. But if the prius had to face the heavy fire the volt is taking it would have died after its first year of low sales back in 2001. This is GMs test of fire, if they can take it they live, if they cant, they are dead, and a whole lot of folks want the company, its unions, and its dealerships six feet under.

    BTW the most traded in car for a new volt is… a prius!

  • Heather ruby

    I completely agree! Buying this car is patrotic no matter what your political affilication!

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    Volt is a MODERN MARVEL.

    My Volt will leave your Prius in the dust anyday and still stay in electric mode.

    0 gallon of gas used in the last 3 weeks of over 800 miles traveled for my commute and still averaged over 75mph on the hwy. See if ANY the Prius that can do that…

    Volt is by far the most complex and advanced car in the world. Too bad that people had to mix politic with it instead of just appreciating the car for what it is…

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    No other car in the history has received as much political punches as the Volt (okay, maybe the Hummer). But the fact is that Volt is continuing to do well. It sold better than 80% of the Hybrids out there and account for more than HALF of all the electric/plugins on the market. At over 25,000 units sold world wide, it is over $1Billion in revenue. It has endured attacks from the Right (b/c Obama likes it) and the Left (b/c of the gas engine for “extended range mode” instead of pure EV). It even endured occasional attack from Prius owners for being NOT prius enough…

    At the end of the day, it is an awesome car. Go and drive one. Leave the poltics out of it. Get to know it and keep an open mind, you will be pleasantly surprised and converted.. 🙂

  • Capt. Concernicus

    I appreciate your comments about the Volt.

    However, the Volt only does two things better than the Prius.

    1) Drive longer on EV mode.
    2) Is quicker and by that I mean barely quicker as in 0.5 seconds 0-60 mph.

    My Prius drives exactly like a normal car on it’s 17″ rims. It’s not the quickest, but I keep up with traffic just fine. It’s very reliable. With it’s back seats folded down it holds a TON of stuff and was very useful when I moved from my last place to my current place. I’ve had 5 people sit in car without any issue numerous times without any issues. It has most of the bells and whistles like HID lights, xm radio, back up camera, my keys never having to leave my pocket to unlock or start the car, etc. It’s averaging 50.4 mpg. And it hasn’t depreciated in value all that much thanks to it being in such high demand.

    –The Prius sold its 4,000,000th unit this last April.

    –It has generated over $100 billion in revenue.

    –It is synonomous with the word hybrid and fuel efficiency.

    –Prius still dominates the hybrid market regardless of how many competitors enter the arena. It’s like Mad Max. Many may enter, but only one leaves (and that’s the Prius).

    The Volt is expensive, only efficient for short trips, it’s utility factor is lower and only people that have access to an outlet can buy it, limiting the number of people that can own it. Tell me how successful it can be against the Prius again? That’s right it can’t ever be as successful as the Prius. Ever.

  • Bonaire

    The Volt does another thing better than the Prius. It gets made in the USA a lot better than the Prius. It also uses less oil than the Prius, is fueled by American fuel (electricity) better and looks and drives better. It costs more – but that will change over time.

    (yes, I know some parts going into the Volt are foreign-made. Prius is 100% foreign-made).

  • Van

    I have never understood the effort to disparage Obama using the Volt, or to disparage the Volt using the President.

    The Volt is a great concept, that hits wide of the mark. I costs too much and its charge sustaining mileage is to low. Also its back seat is cramped.

    But the Prius PHV also missed the mark, its EV range is too low.

    I am hoping the Fusion plug in will cost less than $30,000 and have an EV range over 20 miles and a charge sustaining MPG north of 40.
    That would put it spot on in my opinion.

  • john iv

    I don’t understand the hatred between the Prius and Volt. They are different cars for different people. The numbers on this website have them in seperate categorizes. They don’t use the same type of battery. They don’t use the same configuration. I own a Prius because I can afford a used car and that was a Prius. Maybe in another few years I’ll look at the Volt.

    Built in the USA vs Japan is a stupid arguement. We all benfit from competition from other countries. It is not like we are comparing Japan to the Middle East.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    @ Capt Concerius,

    Prius is a good car, but it is NOT Volt. It will never be. All the features that you have listed are all standard on the Volt except for the backup camera which is only a $495 option.

    Your loaded Prius will cost close to $30k. Volt after $7,500 fed tax credits and CA state cash of $1,500 will be around $32k. So, the cost is very close. My Volt hasn’t used any gas in the last 680 miles. And only used 4.3 gallon in the last 1800 miles. Your Prius can’t do that… So, the price difference can easily be covered in gas money for about 3-4 years.

    Sure, your Prius is only “half second” slower. That is still slower and noisier with Volt being all electric. If you are going to drive long trips “all the time”, then sure Prius will get better mileage. Most American drive less than 40 miles per day. Volt’s back seat folds down too and have plenty of space. It doesn’t seat five, but if you are buying a car for 1% of the situation, then it is NOT the smartest decision. I would rather have the better performance (better braking and cornering) than sitting extra person. Volt’s interior is much higher quality than Prius. Prius doesn’t have all touch menu or onStar…

    Sure Prius sold a lot and it is a great thing for all “green car” community. But Volt has sold more than Prius did in its infancy years. Prius has been on the market for over 12 years. Volt is only 2 year old and already sold better than 80% of the hybrids out there and dominate the “plugin/electric” market. It accounts for more than HALF of the all plugins/ev sold in the country. Not to mention it is American made and American engineering marvel. I am very proud of it.

    Also, I don’t know where you get the $100Billion from. You would have to assume the average selling price of the Prius is over $25k. I guess that is an ok assumption. Now Prius has only sold 1.5Million of that 4 millions sales in the US. Most of the Volt sales are in the US. Prius also include all of its “variation”, C, V, Gen III and Pip. C is NOT even based on the Prius platform (Yaris based)… Prius only sold less than 6,000 in its first year and less than 8,000 the second year. So Far, Volt is beating both of them and increasing.

    A better comparision is probably Prius Plugins vs. the Volt. The Volt so far has beating it in just about every category.

    Let me put it this way. Prius is a good car but Volt is more advanced, more complex and gives you more freedom. You have the choice to be Electric or Gas based on your choice. That is “freedom” that Prius can’t match.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    @John B,

    I agree with you completely. It seems to me that some of the Prius drivers keep bringing up how great their Prius is and repeatly mention that they will stick with their Prius over the Volt. Well, Prius is a good car. But the snobbish attitude of the Prius owners sometimes really piss me off. No wonder people think Prius owners have “smut” problem.

    They are both great solution to energy efficiency. Volt is better but it also cost more. That is the way market works. Different price point and different segment.

    Will a $23K car sell more than a $40k car? I sure hope so…

  • Opp Chg

    John B. and MMF are right on the money. Prius and the Volt are not really so much competition as they are complentary. I own both so I am in a unique position as defender of both! The Volt is superior in pretty much every way except for long distance mileage (50 vs 40) and 5 passanger seating. Even the long distance is somewhat mute as I have done 112 miles a day in the Volt – and that was using Level 1 charging (regular 120 volt outlets) Level 2 can take you farther. So as existing EV charging infrastructure gets supplimented the Prius will lose even more of its long range edge. I use no gas for months at a time with the Volt. And it is the most fun vehicle I have ever owned, best “profuct” i have ever purchased (so far). But for loooong trips, take the Prius. A battery is not a gas tank, and vice versa. Vehicles spend more time parked than driven, so opportunity charging could be the future.

  • Opp Chg

    Lol of course I meant “product” not “profuct”…that might end up being the Nissan Leaf! And when I wrote 112 miles in a day on the Volt I meant all EV miles. ( I had 5 miles of EV range remaining upon arrival and the same 5 gallons of gas put in two months earlier)

  • Capt. Concernicus

    Wow! Really? You’re going to use the “made in the USA” argument? That only means one thing. That you have NO other argument. No other rebuttal to my statements. Weak. Very weak.

    A) The Prius V, Prius plug in and Prius C have little sales compared the sales of the original Prius. So that’s one moot point.

    B) 4 million units sold worldwide. While Toyota was quietly building Prii from the late 1990’s and selling them worldwide, GM was selling Hummers instead. How did that work out for GM?

    C) If the Prius is not the Volt then how come every Volt or GM fanboy wants to compare it to the Prius?

    D) If most Americans commute is 40 miles or less a day then wouldn’t most Americans want to own a Volt? Oh wait, most Americans don’t have the money or the outlet to plug in the Volt otherwise most Americans would own a Volt. Fail.

    E) I’ll take my Prius any day against a Volt. The Volt performance equals a 4-cylinder Camry or Accord. That doesn’t say much.

    F) The Prius is an icon. When someone asks anyone to name the first hybrid that comes to their mind, they say what? Prius. Period.

    G) The Volt is a niche car at best. It will never be a large volume seller for GM or at least not for quite sometime because the infrastructure doesn’t support hybird EV’s/EV’s (like the Leaf).

    H) The Prius will soon be made in the U.S. That should stop your “made in USA” rhetoric. Which is too bad because I’ll buy mine made in Japan before I can’t anymore.

    Let me know when the Volt catches up to the Prius in sales. I’m sure it’ll be a cold day in heck when that happens, so quit trying to fudge the numbers in the Volt’s favor. It’s not going to happen. And if you’re so concerned about how they’re so different then quit trying to compare them because it’ll just make you look bad every time.

    If you think Prius owners are snobish then you need to take a hard look in the mirror if you’re Volt owner or just read some of the posts here on or other places and you’ll see that Volt owners look down at Prius owners as much as you think it’s vice versa. It’s called being a hypocrite. Anyone preaching the “made in the USA” or “fueled by American power” rhetoric can take that and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. That’s a pathetic argument if I’ve ever heard one.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    @ Capt Concernius,

    First of all, “made in USA” is just one of the reason. NOT the only reason. I have listed few already. Please read it again.

    A). Sure, Prius C, V and Plugin aren’t major factors in sales yet. US sales still only account for 1.5 Million out of the 4 Million world Wide. Volt just started shipping world wide. FACT, Volt in its first 2 years out sold Prius in its first 2 years. So, we shall see. Not to mention the fact that Volt is at a higher price point. If you look at all the higher sales vehicles, they are ALL under $40k.

    B). Toyota still has NOT release its profit margin on the Prius. The early generation of Prius were known to lose money. GM made Hummer b/c it made money. AS far as global sales go, Toyota and GM have been very close to each other. GM got bailed out b/c its labor union contracts and cost. Toyota also received Japanese government bailout. Toyota might make Prius, it also make plenty of high profit margin GAS guzzler. Look up the MPG number of Sequoia, Tundra, FJ cruiser, 4 Runner, Lexus LX 470. Land Cruiser…etc. Those are HIGH profit margin vehicles for Toyota.

    C). Really? Volt people never bring up Toyota. We usually mentioned pure EVs such as Leaf. If you look back at the comments, you were the FIRST ONE THAT BROUGHT UP THE VOLT! Only Toyota owners are intimidated by the Volt, NOT the other way around. We don’t care about how Prius do. We are glad that other people drive Prius over gas guzzlers. Even if few Volt owners do, that is b/c Prius is the #1 trade in cars for new Volt owners…

    D). Sales of the Volt in the first half of the year have exceed the entire year of 2011. Volt sales are going up despite all the poltical attacks. As explained in this article, Volt has been doing so well despite all the attacks from Right, Left (EV Purist) and apparently hardcore Prius owners… Like I mentioned before, as far as EV/Plugin market go, Volt account for MORE THAN HALF THE MARKET BY ITSELF. IT ALSO SOLD BETTER THAN 80% OF THE HYBRID BRANDS OUT THERE.

    E). Sure, you can take your Prius against a Volt. Volt outhandles the Prius, out accelerate the Prius and out brake the Prius. It is NOT just me who is saying it. Just about any car reviews confirm that as a FACT. Whether you admit it or NOT is irrevalent. Not to mention that Volt can do it with NO Gas.

    Based on the tone, it actually sounds like you are actually afraid of Volt performance. B/c no Volt owners actually compare their Volt against Prius. It is usually “luxury” car ride quality that Volt owners bring up. All I do on the hwy is passing slow right lane Prius drivers..

    F). I have never doubt that. I give Toyota credits for coming out with a great hybrids and stick with it after all those year even making no profits in early days unlike some US auto makers. I never argue against it. I keep saying that Prius are good cars. But Volt is in a different class all by itself. Prius is a hybrid, Volt is a modern marvel or commonly known as Extended Range EV. You don’t compare BMW 3-series with Corolla… Both are icons in their own ways. Corolla outsold the BMW 3-series by more than a factor of 10x…

    G). I disagree on two points. 1. We don’t know if it b/c big sellers or not. At the current $40k price point, it is going to be a lower volumn car than say a $19K starting Prius C. But so far, it is outselling the iconic Corvette in volunme and beating every hybrid plugin/EVs on the market include your beloved Prius Plug in. 2. like I said, Volt is great b/c it is a bridge to the future. It doesn’t need infrasture to be ready for the Volt. In fact, it is Volt’s advantage over a pure EV b/c there is no infrastructure. Volt can be Electric or Hybrid depending on which mode is cheaper (E-rate vs. gas price) or whether it can be limited by charging station availabilities. Unlike the Leaf, if the stations are taken, Volt can still get home on gas. That is why Volt is superior. Even in Gas mode, 40mpg is decent enough for most people. Sure, 50mpg Prius is higher, that is b/c Prius is designed to be “hybrid” only. Volt is designed to be EV first, Hybrid second…

    H). Prius could be made in US. But engineering jobs go to Japan and Profits go to Japan. As an American, I would love to give the money back to the US taxpayer (I am one of those). Also, as an engineer, I appreciate the capability of the American engineers. So far, as far as I can see, the ONLY EVs/plugin EVs that come with true battery “protection” with liquid cooling are American designs (Focus EV, Volt and Tesla S). The Japanese version are passive or air cooled (Leaf, MieV and Prius Plug in). Those version are inferior in my engineering judgement b/c they are more prone to heat damage (as Leaf in AZ) and limited capability in fast charging mode (due to excessive heat). So, you might like your Japanese Prius, I love my American Volt b/c the superior design.

    Oh, Your Prius also depend on Chinese Rare Earth Metal b/c Prius use the Permanent DC motor where Volt is powered by AC Induction 3 phase motor.

    As far as sales go, Prius had a 12 years head start. So far, the first 2 years of Volt are beating the first 2 years of Prius. Also, they are at two different price point. Comparing the sales of BMW 3-series against Corolla is silly. I sure hope a $25k car sells more than a $40k car. Wouldn’t you say so?

    Also, let me repeat this, you are the first one to bring up the Prius vs. Volt in this comment section. Nobody else did until you did. It sounds to me that you are intimidated…

    Also, when a BMW owners tells a Corolla owner that their cars are better, what should the Corolla owner say? Well, you paid more for it, it should be better… Corolla out sold the BMWs by far. Same logic apply here. You can replace any $40k car vs any $20k car here. It seems like you are the one that keep bring up the sales number of a $20k car against a $40k car…

    If someone is comparing a $40k car to your $30K Prius, then you should take that as compliment instead of getting all defensive about it. I keep telling you that Prius is a good car. But it is NOT Volt. They are different class, different price point and different driving dynamic. Volt is better, but it should be since it cost more. Prius is good in other way. More popular, higher MPG in gas mode. Good for long trip that need better MPG. 5 people.. But Volt is better in just about everything else. It is NOT an insult when a $40k car is better than a $30k car.

    Your last point is silly. Nothing wrong saving gas/oil. Electricity is a domestic produced resources. Oil is imported. Nothing wrong with NOT using oil. Personally, I do NOT want to send any more American lives to the Middle East to die in defending America’s “oil interest”. You don’t have to agree with it. It is your right. That is why America is great. Freedom to choose. B/c that is one of the reason many Volt owner did it. Nothing wrong with it. After all, Volt is about choice and freedom. Freedom to choose between electricity and gas.

    I am in the process of installing solar, I will even offset my electric bill with it. So, it will save me even more money. In my commute, I can save $780 in gas vs a Prius. So, why is it wrong that I save more money with my Volt instead of the Prius?

    Again, I appreciate the fact that you drive a Prius and it is a good thing for everybody. But Volt is a great car and it is better than Prius. But it costs more. So, it should be better, right? It is a compliment that people judge the Volt against your Prius.

    So, chill out and enjoy your car.

    If you ever see a red Volt zooming past your Prius in the SF Bay Area, wave! B/c that might just be me….

  • Mal

    This back and forth is very interesting. Some thoughts from the outside world.
    1. Solve this problem by producing more American oil and NG not using more battery power. It’s there, it’s politically hostaged.
    2. The subsidies and public power outlets aren’t free- they are just paid by someone else.
    3. Better “braking” isn’t a real important issue.
    4. What percent of car buyers can afford the Volt if it’s not subsidized?
    5. Where is all the lithium from and where does it get dumped-is it another Yucca mountain issue down the road?
    6. American made is nice but real American competitiveness is nicer. We need to work harder and smarter to be more deserving. UAW???? Better engineering, efficiency and hard work are the real answers.
    7. I believe America became the greatest nation primarily because of our freedom and our free market system. I believe we need to lean in that direction to prosper.

  • Anonymous

    Capt. C. wrote:
    “The Volt performance equals a 4-cylinder Camry or Accord. That doesn’t say much.”

    That just not true, look it up. The 0-30 time on the Volt is 3.0 seconds, 0.4-0.2 faster than Camry and Accord, while 0-60 times are comparable. 0-30 is what defines performance for most drivers in the real world, and an ICE will never match an EV’s 100% torque at from the start. You’re going to need a V6 version to barely “smoke” a Volt, for which you would pay close to the price if the Volt after rebate, not counting gas savings. Oh and the Camry will get 21 mpg city, the Accord as high as 20 mpg lol! Sounds like I’ve just made a case for those owners to consider a Volt!

  • David

    Um… so how did this become a debate about Prius vs Volt?

    By all means let those who see it as a political liability punch away. Chevy did their homework and created a great car. When the Volt technology succeeds the bullies calling it names will just have to find something else to pick on.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ Anonymous & Modern Marvel Fan,

    Some interesting points. However…

    A) Sales history FACTS:

    –December 10, 1997 – Prius goes on sale to the public in Japan, fully two years ahead of any other manufacturer. First-year sales are nearly 18,000.
    –August, 2000 – Prius is launched in the U.S. as a 2001 model, with an MSRP of $19,995.
    –January, 2001 – Toyota reports 5,562 Prius sales in U.S. for August-December 2000.
    –January, 2002 – Toyota reports U.S. Prius sales of 15,556 in 2001, up 180% from 2000. Prius sales top 100,000 worldwide in 2002.

    So the Volt ever outsold the Prius here in the U.S. or overseas. I know you have a comment, but please make sure you understand that the first year the Prius was sold here it was only on sale for 5 months.

    B) Toyota knew in the very beginning it would lose money on every Prius sold yet it did not stop them from taking a different and smarter long term strategy where as GM was busy with short term profitablity goals with Hummer. Again. What happened when you compare Prius vs. Hummer? Well just walk into your local Hummer dealership and find out.

    C) Actually YOU were the first person to instigate the Volt vs. Prius rivalry. And you said Volt owners don’t look down at Prius owners. Please reread your first comment. I’ll restate it here. “My Volt will leave your Prius in the dust anyday and still stay in electric mode.”. I never even used the word Volt in my post. I just said I’ll stick to my Prius.

    D) Why don’t you compare apples to apples with the sticker prices instead of using a fully loaded Prius price vs. the lowest base price of the Volt. A base price of a Prius is $24,000 vs. a rebated price of $32,000 for the Volt. That’s an $8,000 difference. And if like you said you save $750 a year in gas that means what? An 11 year pay off period? I doubt you will keep the Volt that long.

    E) Wow. What a weak argument for performance. All you have is your “I pass Prii all day long”, “Based on the tone, it actually sounds like you are actually afraid of Volt performance.” I seriously had to read these points a couple of times because I couldn’t believe you were using them to back up your Volt argument. C’mon dude. You gotta do better than that. That kind of argument is a sign of a small weak mind.

    F) “Volt is a modern marvel.” Where have I heard something like that before? Oh yeah, “April, 2000 – The Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest environmental organization, presents its “Excellence in Environmental Engineering Award” to the Prius, January 2001 Ward’s AutoWorld magazine names the Prius electric/gas hybrid system one of the “10 Best Engines of 2001.”, March, 2001 – Automotive Engineering International, the official publication of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) names the Toyota Prius the “Best Engineered Car of 2001.”, February, 2003 – Prius is named one of the “Top 10 Most Technically Sophisticated Cars of 2003″ by IEEE Spectrum, the trade magazine published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc., the world’s largest organization of technology and business leaders.” I’m just sayin’.

    G) The Volt is ONLY a good car when you can plug it in and use it to it’s fullest potential. Otherwise it’s $40k compact sedan that gets the same fuel economy as a Chevy Cruze. You need a plug at every corner of every parking lot/parking garage in America for the Volt to be a mainstream product. So if you don’t have access to a plug you will never buy the Volt. You can’t say that with the Prius. Anyone can buy one and get low 40 mpg (Prius V) up to 53 mpg (Prius C) for as low as $20k.

    H) You keep saying the Volt is not the Prius or vice versa, but yet you contiune to compare them and you don’t even really compare them correctly.

    I) Just remember that the Prius has more utility. It can can carry 5 people instead of the Volt’s 4 people. It has twice the cargo capacity 21.6 cu/ft. vs. 10.6 cu/ft. and if you own a Prius V then that difference is even greater. But Volt owners never seem to bring that up. Ever. I wonder why? Probably because they don’t want to have to try and explain the lack of utility of their Volt.

    J) You’ll be zooming past me? Doubt it considering the Prius has a top speed of 108 mph vs. the Volt’s 100 mph. Or did you “forget” that convenient fact also?

    @ Anonymous,

    If you’re so oh so concerned about the 0-30 mph times then you need to know Motor Trend showed the Prius 0-30 mph is 3.0 seconds vs. the Volt at 3.2 seconds.

    So there you have it folks. I could make a snide comment to end this rebuttal, but I’ll just say. Peace out!

  • Debbie

    In our household, we own both the Volt and the Prius. We are extremely pleased with the performance and effeciency of both. Neither can be tossed to the side. The technology in the Volt is amazing and actually has the edge over our Prius but both are good for our country and both provide U.S. consumers with an amazing product that cannot be taken lightly. Many US citizens worked hard to provide our country with this technology and I appreciate it! – regardless of any presidential opinions.

  • Mark (aka Anon)

    Capt. C.:

    You are wrong. You brought up the issue of Volt performance and now I will put it to bed. The 3.2 sec number you quoted was for the Volt’s Extended Range mode…most of us are almost never in that mode. Not sure where you got the Prius 3.0 number from…a daydream perhaps? Official Motor Trend numbers are as follows:

    Prius: 3.4 (0-30) and 10.6 (0-60)
    Volt: 3.0 (0-30) and 8.8 (0-60)

    So the Volt will take you at 30, leave you in the dust by 60, and then you’ll get pulled over and slapped with a $300 ticket as you try to creep up to 108 mph to pass. You’ll never catch up to the Volt (that was a metaphor by the way).

    Before making yourself look any more like a foolish, floundering, politician, I suggested you go TEST DRIVE the Volt and come back to share your thoughts on the car in comparison to the Prius. Many dealers will let you take for 24 hours, test your commute, infrastructure, etc. As I said before, it make a great complementary car to a lesser (P)HEV. But I know Chevy Volt, and Mr. Prius, you’re no Chevy Volt!

  • CharlesF

    From CR:

    0 to 30 mph, sec.: Volt: 3.4 Prius: 3.7
    0 to 60 mph, sec.: Volt: 9.4 Prius: 10.6
    45 to 65 mph, sec.: Volt: 5.5 Prius: 6.3
    Quarter-mile, sec.: Volt: 17.3 Prius: 18.0
    Quarter-mile, mph: Volt: 81 Prius: 79

    The Volt is higher rated for both routine and emergency handling. Breaking on dry goes to the Prius, but wet to the Volt.

    So the Volt is the faster car in any legal situation. If you are Al Gore’s son or a living founder of Apple you and a near by police officer may find the Prius is faster.

    Full disclosure: I drive a 2004 Focus Wagon (177K miles) that I plan on replacing with a C-Max plug in hybrid. My SO has a 2006 Prius (130K miles). She has looked at the Volt, but cannot get past the fact it is a Chevy. She has been a Honda or Toyota only buyer. Our biggest fight was when I bought a *!#%&^% Ford. The Focus has won her over. She will be OK with the C-Max.

  • Pat

    The article “Should Chevy Volt Remain A ‘Political Punching Bag’?” criticizes people who are criticizing the Volt. For those who challenge the Volt program, Obama is involved since he has funded the program to fulfill a campaign promise. And it does seem appropriate to continue to evaluate the Volt effort as the November election approaches. Jeff points out that his job is actually to be a journalist who covers this industry. I find the work at to be invaluable. Jeff also acknowledges that the Volt has certainly benefited from political favor, noting its support from both parties.

    The history given is useful with quotes from Bob Lutz. What is overlooked is Lutz’s statement that the Volt would be a 150 mpg car; he was bettered by GM CEO Fritz Henderson who stated in 2009 that it would be a 230 mpg car. These claims by GM management and experts from the power industry led to the massive financial support for the car. The car has certainly been misrepresented but no more by its critics than by its supporters. The electrified vehicle experiment is still being validated. The Volt is responsible for millions or billions (projected) of taxpayer dollars. Whether the money was misappropriated or not is not really the question – rather the questions is it going to pay off.

    I am of the opinion that the early Prius, Insight and Civic hybrids were responsible for the failure of the EV1, RAV4 EV and other electric cars in the late 1990s. I think the current Prius and other high performing conventional hybrids will be the cause of the failure of the Volt, Leaf, etc. On a national basis the Prius generates less CO2 than the Volt or the Leaf and in my opinion that will be the reason why Plugins will succeed only marginally. This is examined in detail on numerous articles and papers on my web site

    Jeff notes that there are many other reasons why the Volt is considered viable now, and it probably would be best if people could just back off and let it be. I think it needs to be continually challenged as long as the EPA and GM claim such high MPGe ratings that are calculated without accounting for power plant energy usage. Such claims are the Achilles heel of plug in car industry and in my opinion are one of the reasons why sales are relatively low, about 8% of hybrid sales.

  • Jeff Cobb

    Hi Pat – You wrote: “The article “Should Chevy Volt Remain A ‘Political Punching Bag’?” criticizes people who are criticizing the Volt.”

    Please note the following qualifiers I put in this piece to be as fair minded as possible:

    “But if you disagree, you have that right. Freedom of speech is the First Amendment for a reason; it is part of what has made this country great, and I’m all for freedoms responsibly enjoyed. The problem I have is with fuzzy logic …”

    “A laundry list of accolades and Consumer Reports documenting it as number one in owner satisfaction with a 93-percent approval rating is a pretty good indicator, but if you disagree that’s fine.”

    “As I consistently write, it is a qualified decision to buy – or even approve of the Volt. Talk to anyone else you trust who actually knows about it first hand if you want, then decide for yourself what you think about it.”


    So … I do not criticize anyone who criticizes the car. I object to misrepresentation and slanted portrayal of facts.

    You wrote: “The Volt is responsible for millions or billions (projected) of taxpayer dollars. Whether the money was misappropriated or not is not really the question – rather the questions is it going to pay off. “

    If you are referring to the $7,500 federal credit, that comes out of a Volt buyer’s own tax assessment. You are not asked as a taxpayer to underwrite some other person’s Volt tax credit.

    And yes, it is a question whether the Volt will pay off. Given how much flak it has had to already overcome, so far, so good some would say. It is dominating the plug-in category.

    And I am well aware of the sales figures and how small a market it is now. I do the dashboard every month.

    “Backing off” means please do not ride it into the ground with unfounded views. If you wish to make objective points, by all means, please do so.

    I acknowledge it is a qualified decision as a parting qualifier.

    You are correct the car was said to get 230 mpg equivalent. It’s a qualified measurement. If you stay in all electric range it does get ultra high MPGe.

    And yes, the electricity is not free, so that is a cost that must be factored.

    The grid is getting cleaner year by year, and the union of concerned scientists came out recently and endorsed grid power as the cleaner choice, and preferable to petroleum (from an environmental standpoint, not an energy security standpoint. But we know hands down domestic energy beats imported petroleum from an energy security standpoint … ).

    This Volt piece ran much longer than I intended, but it went long because certain people with political points to make have continued to throw a lot of unfounded talking points on the wall to see what sticks. So I composed this extra long piece to try and cram a sizable – but not comprehensive – treatment of salient facts.

    If you reserve the right to disagree, you can see I already agree with you to have that right!

    I agree ultimately the market case for the Volt will need to prove in time. It is a gambit, and I acknowledge that with the word “experiment.”

    I believe it’s a situation of doing what can be done given limited technology. The Volt represents a bridge technology, as Lyle Dennis has also said.

    It does work now for a lot of people, and is regarded by many as the best compromise available.

    Other posters above have also made excellent points to explain why the Volt makes sense for them.

    I am not here to defend the car to the Nth degree and do not intend to debate with you. This article was prompted as a call for honesty, and to help frame some key points. You discern the facts as you see fit. I only ask for intellectual honesty.

    Thank you.



  • Opp Chg

    Pat and author Jeff have returned to the original focus of the piece (thankfully) and to the important point of MPGe. Putting pea nuts and politics aside, and any discussion of energy sourcing efficiency (yes it take A LOT of wasted energy to both to get generated electricity in to the Volt and to get undersea crude oil into a car’s gas tank – someone else can Dothat analysis) so let’s just talk hard real world efficiency numbers, in simple indisputable terms (unless my calculations are wrong haha!)

    I commute 34.3 miles each way in the Volt. This typically requires 6.3 kWh of energy. There are 36.6 kWh of energy in one gallon of gas, do:

    34.3/6.3=5.44 kWh/m

    5.44*36.6=199 MPGe

    (Your results may vary.)

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    @ Capt Concerius,

    A). Volt so far is on pace to beat Prius’s second year of sales in the US. Shorter month or, it outsold the Prius. I keep reminding you the fact that Volt is a much higher price point. It would be silly for anyone to think a higher priced car will sell the same as a lower priced car.

    B). I never said GM wasn’t short sighted. I also said that I commend that Toyota for doing the Prius. But Toyota is NO SAINT. They came out with the FJ cruiser just as the Hummer got hot and their Sequoia was also aimed to carve up a market. Toyota is there to make money in “all segments”…

    C). I look back, who mentioned Prius in a Volt related article? You did.
    D). A $24k Prius is NOT similar equipped to a $40k Volt. Compare the option list and then we can talk. I also live in California where $1,500 additional rebates are available. A Comparable Prius is about
    $27K. The different is about $3k-$4k at most. With HOV sticker and better performance, I break even pretty fast in 5-7 years. If you want to capitalize the saving quickly, you can always lease it and get the saving instantly. A better car for more price seems pretty logic to me.

    E). There are plenty of performance numbers out there. I don’t need to list them for you again. I believe you can read…

    F). I will run out of the spaces to list all the Volt’s award in the last 2 years. I believe you haven’t done any research. If you did, you wouldn’t have written that one. European and American car of the year was most basic one. Volt’s voltec powertrain also won European award for the best design power trains..etc. There are plenty of ward to search for. Just about every car magzine gave the Volt awards. As far as Sierra Club go, well, they are NOT car people.

    G). Well, didn’t I say Volt is Electric first and Hybrid second? Well, your Prius can’t even do electric… Nuff said there. Whoever own a home or rent a home can drive the Volt. That is a long list of people… Even in gas mode, Volt is rated btw 37mpg to 40mpg. That is pretty good for a car that have a lot of batteries for Pure eV driving. Same thing can be said for any Plugins. That is why I said they are in different class…

    H). I keep mentioned that Volt is faster, that isa fact. Volt is quieter and can use electric energy if needed. In this entire Volt comment section, you are the first one to bring up the Prius. That is a fact. By saying that ” I will keep my Prius, I believe it is a “BETTER” car” is a comparison statement by itself.

    I). Utility, sure. I never argue against it. But most of the time, people drive by themselves.

    J). Well, Volt’s top speed is lower. But Prius will take forever to get there. Unless you are going to “cruise” at that speed, it is pointless. For most driving, 0-30, 0-60 and 1/4 miles are the most useful stats…

    If you didn’t start your comment by stating that “I’ll stick to my Prius thank you very much, which I believe is a better car”. Nobody would have said a thing about it.

    That statement is a simple comparision right there. That attitude is exactly what Prius “smut” is about…

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    @ Mal,
    1. Regardless whether it is oil or coal. Electric is FAR MORE efficient. 1 gallon of gas is 36KWh in terms of electrical energy. 36KWh is enough energy to power the Volt for 120 miles. That is more than twice the “efficiency” of the Prius.

    2. The Volt doesn’t require public power. Most Volt owner charge it at home. The subisidy (tax credits) were approved under Bush and it has been extended under Obama. It is NOT unique to Volt. Ford gets it. Nissan gets it. Even the early day Prius had it too. Why should we give American Tax credits to foreign built cars is the real question while foreign governments don’t always do the same.

    3. Braking is just one of the performance spec of the car.

    4. The recent overall car sales averaged over $30k. Volt is a $40k car. With saving of at least $1k per year in gas, I say that $40k is realistic. Do I expect it to sell like a $20k econ box? No. But remember Prius used to sell for over $30k and price came down after about 10 years…

    5. I don’t know where you get the idea that Li is toxic. It is NOT lead, not Cadium(Ni Cad) and fully recyclable. As expensive as Li is, it will NOT go to waste. No Mercury. Even the Li-ion battery comply with the ROHS process. (Reduction of Hazardous Substance).

    6. Volt is better engineered comparing with other EVs from abroad. It is built nicely. UAW is a fact of life. I am not big fan. But it is still better than giving it to Japanese engineering. Japanese government has consistently subsidize their industry in various way…

    7. I agree. Volt is about choice. Choice and freedom to use gas or electric.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ Mark and Charles,

    So there you have it. Prius wins. If you have any problems with the numbers I provided to you in the link above please feel free to take it up with Motor Trend. I’m sure they’ll take your complaints in kind.

    But don’t worry. I’m sure someone will come up with an excuse to why the Volt lost. Maybe it had a heavier test driver, it was in eco mode or maybe it was made on a Monday. But mostly I’m sure it has nothing to do with the extra 700lbs. it lugs around than the Prius.

  • CharlesF

    @Capt, so MT has the Prius faster at 0-30 by 0.2 seconds and the Volt wins every other performance test. Faster 0-40, 0-50, 0-60, 0-70, 0-80, 0-90, 45-65, 1/4 mile, breaking, skid pad and figure 8. So how is it that the Prius wins the speed or handling contest.

    Also CR has the Volt faster at each tested speed including 0-30 buy 0.3 seconds.

    Looking at all of the data the Volt is the faster and better handling car. The Prius wins in a number of categories, but not speed.

  • Opp Chg

    CORRECTION: The EPA uses 33.7 kWh for a gallon of gas, so the correct rating for aforementioned Volt commute is 183 MPGe.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    @ Capt Concen…

    Thank you very much for providing the links to the table where it shows the Volt just about dominated the Prius in every measurable performance spec except for 0-30mph. Apparently, you just provide facts to provide more support that Volt outperform the Prius.

    Just give it up. Your Prius is a good car but it is NO Volt It is okay to believe in your own car. Your $25k Prius (MT listed it as $29K) should underpeform a higher priced Volt… It is expected.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    So you are telling me that Volt with 700lbs extra weight on the Prius and still whip the Prius in just about every acceleration and performaning (Handling, braking, skip pad) category (except for the 0-30mph listed by MT)? What is Prius’s excuse for inferior design? 700 lbs lighter (about 4 adult weight) and still got spanked in just about every category?

    Why does your beloved Prius have “skinny” whimp tires if it is “so cool” in performance?

  • Capt. Concernicus

    You base how great your car is on it’s performance which basically equals or in some cases loses to the performance of your average every day 4-cylinder sedan (i.e. Alitima, Accord, Camry etc). That’s fantastic! Kudos to you for equalling or losing to those sedans. Beating a Prius by a couple of feet here or a half mile an hour there isn’t really spanking anyone. We’re not talking about Ferrari’s vs. Porche’s here.

    Plus, I think you forget what these cars are really about. They’re about fuel economy, comfort, price and utility. At which none of these aspects the Volt really excels at.

    –Base price: Volt $40k / Prius $24k **
    –Fuel economy: Short distance winner Volt. Long distance winner Prius.
    –Utility: Winner Prius.
    –Comfort/Amenities/Extras: Tie.

    **Not factoring rebate prices as to compare apples to apples.

    Oh and the wimpy tire comment. Really? That’s where you wanna go with this discussion? Yikes. My Prius has the same tires as the Subi BRZ and Scion FR-S. The tires are also optional. People aren’t buying either car for performance. They buy the tires for the sportier looks. But maybe you don’t understand that. Not my problem.

    I’d also appreciate it if you’d stop flip flopping. Comments like “If you ever see a red Volt zooming past your Prius in the SF Bay Area, wave!” then you turn around and say, “Unless you are going to “cruise” at that speed, it is pointless.” after you find the Volt won’t match the Prius top speed. But it’s nice to see how you pick and choose what stats are relevant. How is the 1/4 mile time relevant to these cars but not top speed? Maybe because the Volt excels in one and not the other? Both vehicles are pokey from 0-60 mph. Most 4-cylinder sedans are doing 8 second runs to 60 mph while the Prius and Volt take 9 seconds or longer. Neither car is a sports sedan so don’t fool yourself into thinking that.

    So quit being so condescending to Prius owners and enjoy the car you purchased. Don’t be so concerned about how you beat a Prius by 0.5 seconds 0-50 mph. At that speed all your seeing is his fron bumper next to your drivers side window.


    Do you talk this much smack to Leaf owners also? And do all Volt owners hate Prius owners?

  • David

    Very impressive.

    If I’ve got the math right, at 12 cents per kWh and 183 MPGe it cost you 76 cents to travel 34.3 miles.

    If you were getting the Vots’ EPA rated 94 MPGe on electricity then it would cost $1.48.

    At $3.47 per gal, my ’01 Prius getting 41 MPG would cost $2.90 to travel the same distance.

  • Opp Chg

    Thanks David, and what I find even more fascinating about the Volt is that even doing the same commute with “careless abandon” in Sport mode and not paying attention much to moderating speed and braking (which I rarely do – late for work?? But admit is the most fun i have ever had driving!) the energy usage is only ~7 kWh or 169 MPGe. So all my hypermiling madness results in only ~10% more efficiency…or in other words the Volt is designed to essentially “hypermile itself”. Disclaimer: this does not take in to account blasting the AC nor Heater+Cold weather, but those thing affect a gas car as well, to a lesser extent because more surplus (ie “wasted”) energy is available.

    As for costs, you are on the money. Where I live it’s a higher 17 cents per kWh, but my employer lets me charge fully for the commute home. So my out of pocket daily commute “fuel” cost is about $1.30, or just 65 cents for the one way 34 miles. (this calculation is using a higher 7.5 kWh recharge amount, as there is some electric overhead and losses due to heat and the charging and cooling system the Volt uses to keep the battery at an optimal temp)

    So I think real world experience backs up Mr. Bob Lutz’s claim that the Volt will get 150+ “mpg”.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    @ Capt C

    I am going to humor you a little bit more here. So far, the ONLY mag that shows Prius is ahead in “anything” performance wise is the 0.2 second difference in 0-30mph. Just about every other mag shows that Volt dominates. Domination means it beats Prius in just every category of performance. Volt is quicker to 60mph by 0.7 second. 60mph is about 88ft/sec. That is 61.6 ft in difference. Or think of it as over 4 Prius length. Now, back to the 0.2 second difference at 30mph. 44ft/s for 0.2 is about 8.8 ft. Less than 1 Prius lenght. Now. By 40mph (1.5sec) later, the Priius managed to fall back by 0.1 sec in speed. That tell mes that Prius is running out of breath. Of course, Volt is doing that with extra 700 lbs (about 4 adult in weight). How come you don’t mention braking and handling which are essential in daily driving performance. Sure, top speed is different by 8 mph. But there is no number on how long it will take the Prius to get to top speed. Unless we are racing on a straight track for miles, your Prius will never get to that speed b/c roads will curve and Prius won’t be able to handle that. (Prius handling is known to be crappy). Don’t forget that Volt can do that in EV mode where Prius can’t (even Plug in Prius can’t).

    Now, let us go back to your other comments about Volt being economy box. Nobdy ever say that Volt is competing against “econ” box. Volt’s interior is FAR MORE upgrade than a econ box. Volt saves “GAS” and give you a decent performance. Volt’s performance is better than anything electric except for Tesla (Focus EV # has yet to be released). Volt is designed to “drive better” than traditional hybrid. That is why I keep mentioning that Prius and Volt aren’t in the same class.

    The base price of the Volt is much higher but it also comes with more features than a base Prius. (That is before rebates). Early day Prius also had its tax deduction and varies perks too.

    Tires aren’t important? Tires are the most important hardware on the car as far as traction, safety and performance is concerned. Volt tires are wider, stiffer and shorter side walls… Those are “facts”…

    I never flip flopped. I seriously doubt you will EVER reach 108mph on hwy speed around SF bay area. So, for all real world speeds, Volt will beat you easily in all speed possible off a race track. Sure Volt is No Corvette or Supra or NSX. But it is “sporty” car that outhandles most EVs (minus Tesla) out there. Certainnly out handle your Prius around corners..

    Now as far as other “4 cyclinders” goes… Well, 4 cyclinder has nothing to do wtih it. Plenty sports cars are 4 cyclinders (Honda S2000). Volt can do it with NO gas, your Prius can’t.

    “condescending”? Well, you fired the first shot: “I’ll stick to my Prius thank you very much, which I believe is a better car.” You started the comparison.

    Oh, we don’t hate Prius or Prius owners. In fact, I keep repeating that Prius is a good car and it is good for the enviroment. I just said that it is NOT Volt. Prius is designed to acheive the best mileage possible. Volt is designed to be EV first, Hybrid second with a little sporty feel. Higher price point, different class.

    Now, as far as you go, it is a different story. 0.5 sec at 50mph is 36.6 ft. That is almost 3 Prii in length. Not exactly: “At that speed all your seeing is his fron bumper next to your drivers side window. ” So finish your math school before you comment again…

  • Opp Chg

    Modern Marvel Fan: I’m so sorry but I’ve decided I’m going to change my mind and agree with Capt. Concernicus’ very first comment “…my Prius..I believe is a better car.” As a fellow Prius owner, I am going to have to concede and agree, it IS a better *car*.

    Here’s why: A car is a type of vehicle that under definition #1 is really an automobile, defined as “A self-propelled passenger vehicle that (usually) has…an internal-combustion engine, used for land transport…” For the virtually every product of the last 100 years, car=gas engine power-train. This would correctly describe the Prius, because the ICE is required for virtually any meaningful operation of the vehicle, with electric motor, battery, and power electronics as a supplementary (but co-dependent) system. No gas no go.

    The Volt however should be correctly classified as an electric vehicle (def: “…uses one or more electric…or traction motors for propulsion”) with a range extending generator, currently also an ICE but really technically part of the fuel system and not the power train. There is no inherent systematic dependence on the ICE for the long term operation of the vehicle. The ICE could even be jerry rigged, disconnected or even removed with “sensor spoofing” by some insane warranty-voiding owner and the Volt would continue to operate as an EV, never minding a bit, like someone who takes the air conditioner system out of their car. The ICE is more like an enhancement, a oxymoronic “standard option”, than any kind of truly critical part of the vehicle’s operation. My ICE hasn’t come on in weeks, might be a month already, I’ve lost track… Therefore the Volt is not really a car…except…

    The Volt CAN be classified as a “car” when it is in the range extended mode, then programmmed dependent upon the ICE to deliver energy indirectly, and rarely, directly to the wheels. Since the Prius gets better gas mileage than the Volt in that mode, while seating 5, and providing more cargo area, the only things left going for the Volt as a *car* are its slightly higher performance numbers and better handling, and host of high end options that can also be had on the Prius, for a comparable price. There, I’ve said it too, the Prius is a better *car*.

    However, in a higher order of definition, they are both *vehicles*. (def: “A thing used for transporting people…on land”)

    The Volt is a better vehicle. Period. End of story.

    Now Capt., go and enjoy your car and feel content that is is a “better car”. Whenever you encounter a Volt, first make sure it is driving in ER mode, open the window and shout, “I have a better car!” We will also enjoy our electric vehicles which we know to be better than your vehicle (which is not an EV, never will be, can’t do it, sorry). Everyone happy joy joy!

    If you STILL you still want to compare apples to apples, try the Plugin Prius vs the Volt…you guessed it. PIP is crushed like a grape from the very first drive.

    Except for perhaps the opinion of that 5th passenger, left behind on the curb with their “baggage”. 🙂

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ Modern Marvel Fan,

    You do continue to humor me. I like it. It puts a smile on my face after a long day of work. So hats off to you my friend.

    So it doesn’t matter what stats you decide to pick out to make the Volt seem better than the Prius. Tens of thousands of people buy a new Prius every month. Four Million people worldwide have bought a Prius since it has been introduced. From regular commuters, to being used as taxi cabs in the tough on cab cities like NYC and Chicago, used by small business owners, to being used in local communities as cop cars. That in itself is testimony as to how very well the Prius (C, liftback, V & PIP) is built and how well it does it’s job every single day. It’s undeniable that the Prius is a hybrid icon that has paved the way for all other hybrid cars. The Prius is a Prius first and a Toyota second.

  • Lichabod473

    Really have enjoyed the back and forth regarding Prius v. Volt, proud owners of both obviously. I own a Volt and have no experience with Prius so will refrain comparing at all. But I will point out one issue made by Capt. C, (twice) and I quote;

    “D) If most Americans commute is 40 miles or less a day then wouldn’t most Americans want to own a Volt? Oh wait, most Americans don’t have the money or the outlet to plug in the Volt otherwise most Americans would own a Volt. Fail.”

    The simple fact that Capt. C apparently does not know is the Volt will plug into ANY 120v outlet and is not restricted to the 240v higher charger tells me that Capt C. knows very little about the Volt, and therefore is less than a capable judge as to which vehicle is best. Be a good idea to be open minded AND informed before blasting off. Fact is I am a GM retiree, love our Volt, have never owned a foreign produced car, never will, and in todays world question anyone who derides an American Product. If a person doesn’t want it fine, don’t buy it, take your money and send it overseas, a true sign of a Patriot in my book.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    @ Capt C,

    Here is another fact, Prius Plugin is almost the direct competitor of the Volt b/c of the higher price point and plug in capabilities. But Volt just about dominated the Plugin in sales and performance. And the latest government crash just rated the Plugin Prius (PiP) a four star instead of Volt’s 5 star rating…

    Also, you keep missing the fact about “PRICING POINT”. Prius Plugins are selling FAR LOWER in quantity than the Gen III Prius b/c it is $5k to $10k more expensive than the regular Prius (before $2,500 fed tax credits and $1,500 CA cash back).

    Volt is even higher priced than Prius Plugin but it still did better in sales (ytd or averaged per month in the same few months that Pip has been on sale).

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ Lichabod473,

    You’re a GM retiree. Enough said right there. So I’ll move on to the next point. How many condo’s, apartment buildings, businesses, houses either in the downtown areas or surrounding areas in the U.S. where cars have to park in the street or parking lot have access to an electrical outlet regardless of what Voltage it is? Very few is the answer. The Volt is regulated to suburbs where houses have driveways or garages that have an outlet for it. The Prius can be bought by anyone because it doesn’t have that restriction. Yes, you can get the PIP if you want, but why would you if you have no access to an outlet?

    A true sign of a patriot is someone who buys only American products? Anyone that throws down the patriotism card to defend their argument has no argument. I served in the U.S. military for 8 years (1992-2000), so if you feel that I lack a sense of patriotism to this country just take a look at the veterans plates on my Prius. They’ll remind you that while people talk about being patriotic I was out there willing to defend it if the time came.

    Maybe if GM wasn’t throwing quality and fuel economy to the wind when I was in the car buying scene I would have gone with GM. However, as a previous owner of two Grand Prix’s and two Cavaliers I can tell you that quality was not GM’s #1 priority. Short term profit with trucks/SUV’s was their #1 concern. So I went with a reliable, high mileage vehicle like the Prius and I’ve been happy ever since. It’ll take a lot and I mean A LOT of work at GM to bring me back to their showroom floor.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ MMF,

    Actually I think you’re missing the point on how come the PIP isn’t doing as well as it should. It’s not because the Volt is so dominating because again it’s not. It’s because the PIP doesn’t hold a large enough edge over the Prius liftback for it to be a real consideration for most people. If it had 30+ miles in EV mode you would see Volt sales take a deep dive. Even with the difference in the PIP vs. Volt, the Volt has only outsold the PIP 2:1 and that’s including the fact that the PIP has only been on sale since April and it has outsold the Leaf. Now the regular non-PIP line has sold 122,416 in the first 6 months. Dominating indeed.

  • Anonymous

    Capt. Copernicus, you wrote “You’re a GM retiree. Enough said right there. So I’ll move on to the next point.”

    Great technique. Take one aspect of a person and totally discredit them. Let’s give credit where credit’s due. He didn’t hide the fact he worked for GM!

    Oh, you also said “Anyone that throws down the patriotism card to defend their argument has no argument.”

    So you criticize someone else who makes a statement based on one issue, then make a statement based on one issue (his being a GM retiree).


    Obviously this is an extremely important issue for you, but why does it have to be “one size fits all?” Can’t a Volt be better value for some people, and the Prius for others? Isn’t America about freedom of choice?

    By the way, I CURRENTLY work for GM, so I’m sure I have NO credibity with you. But being more consistent might help your credibility.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ Anonymous,

    Take one aspect? He said this, “Fact is I am a GM retiree, love our Volt, have never owned a foreign produced car, never will, and in todays world question anyone who derides an American Product. If a person doesn’t want it fine, don’t buy it, take your money and send it overseas, a true sign of a Patriot in my book.”

    –So please read the WHOLE paragraph before parsing out only the pieces you want to nit pick. I don’t have a problem with him loving the Volt. The fact that he never owned a foreign car, never will and questions anyone that derides an American product speaks volumes as to why I discredit his opinion. He has a huge bias and won’t even think about any car, but a GM (or other American) car. You can’t debate with someone like that.

    And yes, anyone who throws down the patirot card as the end all be all to an argument generally means they have nothing else intelligent to bring to the table. It’s a weak arguement at best and xenophobic at its worst.

    I never said the Volt wasn’t a car for some people. I said it was a car for only people that have access to an outlet. This particular issue is with the outlet. It leaves out whole swaths of the U.S. population that don’t have access to an outlet. Please re-read a previous post because I don’t want to copy it here.

    I don’t care if you’re a GM employee or not. But to bring it up in a conversation like this, you have to realize that people are going to think you’re biased towards the company you work for and it’s products. It’s just natural for you to be biased. But it’s like watching the business channel and listening to a financial analyst tell you that his views on stock “X” are very bullish this year, only to find out that he is holding a nice chunk of stock “X” in his portfolio. You want to hear that info. from a non-holding independent analyst not someone that is heavliy invested in “X”.

    I do not work for Toyota or any company that does business with them or any other automaker. So I personally believe that the Prius is a better overall value.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    @ Capt C.

    How come you keep twisting the logic? You blame the PIP sales on “short length offering” since only April, but you keep bring up a 12 year old model against a 2 year model. I would sure hope a cheaper model with longer history would sell more.

    PIP doesn’t sell well b/c its price point. Higher priced cars sell less. (especially when it is basically the same car without any real advantages beside HOV stickers). That is a simple logic that you have been evading for a long time. Volt is a more expensive car at a higher price point. If the Prius offer 30 miles range, then it would have cost more than Volt. At that price point, I seriously doubt it will sell any better.

    BTW, how come you didn’t respond to the lower crash rating of the PIP? Cherry picking topics, haven’t you?

  • Anonymous

    Capt. C, I did read exactly what you wrote: “You’re a GM retiree. Enough said right there. So I’ll move on to the next point.”

    Enough said right there.

  • Al Bunzel

    The problem is that there are not enough Volts being produced.
    There are markets around the world that want the Volt, yet it is not available for them to purchase.

    Being able to run a car on domestic energy sources helps with securing energy security.

    In Australia, we just had another announcement that another oil refinery is going to be closed down which means we will rely on more imported gasoline and diesel. This is a threat to Australia, but as soon as more people more to Electric Cars, more people can insulate themselves from any oil supply threats.

  • ra5928

    My charging costs equate to $0.025 per mile. At $4 per gallon, that equates to 160 mpg when in E. I’ve used only 8 gallons of gas in 10 months of ownership. The plug-in Prius costs virtually the same as a Volt, but can only go up to 58 mph in E, and averages only 13 miles in E.

    I was at a Volt Rally recently. About 40 owners were there. All of us agreed that we bought the car for either economic or ecological reasons, but we fell in love with the awesome drive, not one mile down the road. Now, we just love to drive the car! It is a blast! And, oh yes, it is the most ecological car out there. Witness the Ampera winning the Monte Carlo Alternative Fuel Rally. Beat out all EV’s and hybrids.

    So, now we get to have a blast and be green. JD Powers just named the Volt “Most Loved Compact Car”. In the UK, Diesel Car publication named the Volt “Best Eco Car”. Plus, it’s American ingenuity at it’s best.

  • Tracy Durant

    It BEATS the Prius in it”s 1st full sales year 2011=7,671Volt to 2001=5,600Prius.! And it will beat it’s 2nd year sales of 15,000Prius in 2002, its up to 13,000+Volts at the end of August. So YES it will beat it and mark these words it will do it easy.! The reason being, it can be driven on NO GAS at ALL for just long enough to then be charged and driven some more then charged and driven some more even if it is not on a “full” charge.. Therefor challanging Americans to see how far they can go without using any gas.. Just like you changed your driving style to see how far u could go on that tank of gas in your Prius.. So the Prius will lose over the same period of time, year over year.. It also looks better, granted the 2012 Prius does look better then it did but the Volt just looks better, handles better and u can drive it for “free” cus who calculates the amount of electric there Frige uses.. KNOBODY…! So it WILL FEEL FREE.. and thats wut people will tell there friends.! MARK MY WORDS.