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Policy: Environment & Energy

Chevy Volt doesn't make 2014 list of fuel economy leaders

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Beltway Confidential,Energy Department,Ashe Schow,Energy and Environment,Auto Industry

Another blow for the Chevy Volt.

The Department of Energy released its 2014 fuel economy guide, complete with a list of fuel economy leaders, and yet again, the Volt didn't make the list.

In fact, the Volt — a compact car — doesn’t even perform as well by most metrics as some midsize plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, according to the guide.

The Volt gets 37 combined mpg (35 mpg city, 40 mpg highway) using premium gasoline. That’s better than most non plug-in vehicles, for sure. But compare that to the Honda Accord plug-in hybrid, which gets 46 combined miles on gasoline — with no mention of it being premium — and 47 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway. Or the Toyota Prius, which gets 50 mpg combined (51 mpg city, 49 mpg highway).

With a starting price of $34,185 (before the $7,500 tax credit, $26,685 if you get the full credit), the Volt isn’t exactly cheap. Compare that to the Prius, which outperforms the Volt on most measures and has a starting price of $29,990 before the tax credit.

The Volt has a range of 344 miles with premium gasoline. Compared to the Ford Fusion plug-in (602 miles with regular gasoline), the Accord plug-in (561 miles with regular gasoline) and the Prius (530 miles with regular gasoline), and the Volt falls further behind.

The smaller Volt also  takes longer to charge at a standard 240-volt circuit. The Volt takes four hours to charge, compared to 2.5 hours for the Fusion plug-in, 1.5 hours for the Prius and less than one hour (0.67 hours) for the Accord plug-in.

The annual fuel cost for the Prius and Accord plug-in are also less than the Volt – but only by $50.

The Volt does do one thing better than the other plug-ins. The Volt has a range of 38 miles on a single electrical charge, compared to the Prius, which has a range of 11 miles when using electricity combined with gasoline. The Fusion plug-in had a range of 21 miles using only electricity, and the Accord plug-in had a 13-mile range using only electricity.

A bigger problem for plug-ins is the lack of improvement year over year. The stats for each of the plug-ins mentioned in this article are no different than last year, with the exception of annual fuel price.

Bottom line: The Chevy Volt still isn’t the best bang for your buck. The higher price and lower benefits just don’t justify the purchase, especially when the Chevy Sonic costs about $12,000 less and only costs a few hundred more in annual fuel costs.

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