Claims fuel econ­omy bat­tle

It’s Leaf v Volt in fuel war, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

TWO of the world’s most fru­gal cars are in­volved in an econ­omy bat­tle long be­fore they make it to show­rooms. The GM Volt is claimed to have an im­pres­sive 1.02 litres for 100km fuel con­sump­tion, but Nis­san says its all-elec­tric Leaf will do even bet­ter at an as­tound­ing 0.6409 litres/ 100km.

But the big­gest — and so far unan­swered — ques­tion is how the two com­pa­nies ar­rived at their econ­omy claims.

The Leaf runs on elec­tric­ity so how can it even claim a petrol-style fuel fig­ure?

And the Volt is a range-ex­tend­ing hy­brid, which packs an on­board petrol en­gine but only uses it to charge its bat­tery pack. As yet, no one has even re­vealed the size of the fuel tank in the Volt.

The new num­bers come from the US where the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency is work­ing on a draft test to rate the fuel econ­omy of plugin elec­tric ve­hi­cles. It wants a sys­tem that will give com­par­a­tive fig­ures against reg­u­lar un­leaded and die­sel­fuel cars, and hy­brids.

Nis­san has yet to re­veal the detailed test­ing of the Leaf but GM, which plans to even­tu­ally sell the Volt as a Holden, is be­ing more open. It says it will travel 64km from a sin­gle elec­tric charge, or 480km with its flex-fuel gen­er­a­tor in action.

Nei­ther brand is talk­ing about the fine de­tail of their green ma­chines, but Nis­san is hint­ing at a price in the $37,000 to $40,000 range for the Leaf. GM’s pric­ing has slipped to about $55,000.

Even so, GM pres­i­dent Fritz Hen­der­son de­scribes the Volt as a ‘‘game-changer’’ for the brand.

‘‘From the data we’ve seen, many Chevy Volt driv­ers may be able to use pure elec­tric mode on a daily ba­sis without hav­ing to use any gas,’’ Hen­der­son says.

He be­lieves the new EPA sys­tem will be good news for con­sumers.

‘‘EPA la­bels are a yard­stick for cus­tomers to com­pare the fuel ef­fi­ciency of ve­hi­cles. So, a ve­hi­cle like the Volt that achieves a compo- site triple-digit fuel econ­omy is a game-changer.’’

Hen­der­son says the Volt’s per­for­mance re­quires plug­ging the car into the elec­tric grid at least once a day and also de­pends on cargo, pas­sen­gers and the use of air­con­di­tion­ing.

Dur­ing GM’s test­ing of pre­pro­duc­tion pro­to­types, the Volt achieved 64km of elec­tric-only, petroleum-free driv­ing.

Eco­nom­i­cal:

the Chevro­let Volt and Nis­san Leaf are be­ing cited as leaders in fuel econ­omy long be­fore they go on sale.

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