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EPA Fraud: Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf Actually Get Only 23, 25 MPG

The MPG figure must be calculated where the energy is produced. Doesn't matter if that happens in the car's engine ... or in the coal plant, as with the Leaf and Volt.

Chris J Kobus


November 30, 2010 - 12:00 am
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You may have heard the mileage rating for the Nissan Leaf is 99 MPG (miles per gallon equivalent). Here’s what the sticker looks like (I highlighted the relevant portions that I will expand upon):

As Auto Blog says of the rating: “It looks good.” Of course it looks good. But there’s a whole lot more to the story. Note that the MPG rating is MPG equivalent. The MSM has been dropping the “equivalent,” making it seem to consumers that the vehicle is far more efficient than it truly is. Which is the intent, of course.

The ratings for the Chevy Volt have just been released as well. From the Detroit Free Press:

Chevy Volt to hit 93 m.p.g. in electric-only mode; battery-only Nissan Leaf to reach 99 m.p.g.

There is not a single instance of the word “equivalent” in the entire article. Nor is there any mention of last year’s claim that the Volt gets 230 miles per gallon (that was a different fraudulent number, based on a separate fraudulent scheme).

The current “miles per gallon equivalent” is a fraud perpetrated to hide the true environmental cost of these cars. One gallon of gas does have about 33.5 kilowatt-hours of chemical potential (depending on blend, additives, etc). And about that much energy is needed to get the Leaf to go 99 miles, and the Volt to go 93. But here’s where the fraud is perpetrated: the electricity for those vehicles is being generated by mostly coal power plants that are only about 33% efficient (minus transmission losses and losses from charging). Coal plants are off-site power generators (whereas car engines are on-board) and are totally ignored in the EPA rating.

Let me illustrate by example how this scheme works, and why it’s such a fraud.

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