I have just completed driving a Chevy Volt for seven months. In late May I gave the 2009 Toyota Prius I had been driving to my daughter. I was recording about 42.5 miles per gallon on average. However, since driving the Volt, I have achieved an overall miles per gallon of 99.5.
By; Alden Hathaway, PE CEM, SVP Business Development, Sterling Planet
Remember when? REGULAR: $0.50 per Gal
I have just completed driving a Chevy Volt for seven months. In late May I gave the 2009 Toyota Prius I had been driving to my daughter. I was recording about 42.5 miles per gallon on average. However, since driving the Volt, I have achieved an overall miles per gallon of 99.5 over the last seven months, having driven 11,774 miles and consumed 118 gallons of gas, plus 1800 kWhs of electricity. When considering the average price for gasoline of $3.35 and a super off-peak electricity rate of $0.05 per kWh, the Chevy Volt cost about $500 to fuel during those seven months or about $71 per month. Although, I was driving the Prius a little more than twice as much as the Volt, I was using 91 gallons of gas per month or about $305 per month, about four and half times the cost of fueling the Volt.
On the combustion engine side, the Volt compares about the same as the Prius. It gets about 40 miles per gallon. There is no real gain over a Prius driving a Volt on gasoline. The real gain is the fact that I was able to drive over half of all Volt miles on the electric battery. These miles, 6,400 total, cost about $100.00 to fuel because I pay for electricity to charge the Volt mostly on a special off-peak Georgia Power rate of around $0.05 per kWH and, sometimes, for free, at numerous charging stations around the country. On the off-peak Georgia Power rate and adjusting for a 40 mile per gallon level, this means I am essentially buying fuel for these miles at the equivalent cost per gallon of just over $0.50. Imagine that, with the Volt I get approximately half the miles at the performance of a Prius on conventional gasoline costs and the other half on fuel that costs an equivalent of a Half Dollar per gallon.
Improving Fleet Efficiency
Up until March of last year, my wife had been driving an SUV that was getting, at best, 24.0 miles per gallon. Our combined fleet economy with the Prius and the SUV was in the range of 33 miles per gallon. Shortly before obtaining the Volt, she replaced her SUV with a hybrid sedan for the family car. Her new miles per gallon jumped from 24 to 37 over the past nine months. When combining the hybrid sedan with the Volt, our fleet efficiency jumped to over 55 miles per gallon, while our average monthly procurement of gasoline has decreased about two thirds, from more than 200 gallons per month to around 75 gallons per month. As a result, our fuel bills have dropped by almost $450 per month, enough to make one of the payments on the two cars.
More to the point, it is entirely economical to utilize automobiles, such as the Volt, and other high performance hybrids, to achieve significantly higher fleet fuel economies. Imagine if 10% of American households were to replace their cars in such a way, over the course of the next five years. Fuel savings would eventually approach over 700 million barrels of oil annually or 2 million barrels per day, equal to all imports into the United States from the Persian Gulf region. Not only could we, in the very near term, eliminate our dependence of oil from a volatile region of the world, but we would see families saving nearly $65 billion per year in fuel consumption, over 0.43% of total GDP.
These figures all work at prices of $3.35 per gallon gasoline, the current national average. However, prices have been as high, nationally, as $4.00 and haven’t been below $3.00 in over two years. Therefore, there really isn’t a good reason that more Americans would not naturally move to these automobiles as a sound economic investment.
The author is SVP for Business Development for Sterling Planet and an avid hybrid and Volt driver. He can often be seen driving his themed American Energy Independence Chevy Volt around Atlanta and on the highways between Washington, DC, Detroit and Atlanta.