Chevy Volt Electric Range Drops to 20 Miles in Cold

Volt in snowA recent study by unveils yet another drawback of General Motors’ much-hyped Chevy Volt. It appears that the environmentally-conscientious, affluent owners of the vehicles who drive in cold weather will get about half of the electric range, on average, of those who drive in warmer climates.

Fleetcarma charted real-world data displaying an average electric range of approximately 20 miles for Volts driven during temperatures of about 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The owners of President Obama’s favorite car who were under the impression that they would be helping Mother Earth by saving less than one gallon of gas a day at the expense of taxpayers also should be aware of the fact that the Volt needed to burn gas at conditions of under 25 degrees, further negating the supposed green benefits of the car.

The Volt’s range improved to an average of 40 to 45 miles at temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees. Even under these ideal conditions, the benefits of tax subsidies for electric vehicles like the Volt are questionable at best. Consider that a recent government report predicts that EV sales will remain in the 1% range for years to come. Assuming average annual sales of EVs of 150,000 for the next several years and a federal tax credit of $7,500 per vehicle we can expect a five year cost to taxpayers of over a billion dollars for a negligible reduction of US gas consumption.

The limited benefits of the Volt lead to another important question for GM and incoming new CEO, Mary Barra. Why in the world are they doubling down on the Volt technology by offering a Cadillac version of the car at twice the price? The Chevy Volt hoax has been exposed. Buyers have not flocked to the car despite taxpayer subsidies, price cuts and marketing hype that presented the car as a savior for the environment, as well as for GM. What makes GM think that people will pay twice as much for the Cadillac ELR?

I can think of no economic reasons for GM to pursue the production of the Cadillac Volt. That leaves only one reason for the company to continue down the path of producing politically correct vehicles that lose money for GM and its shareholders. It appears that the government influence has not entirely been removed from GM. It is past time that free markets and common sense dictate the direction automakers like GM take when developing new vehicles. Until that time comes, if it ever does, shareholders and taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for the political intrusion into free markets that gave us the money-losing Chevy Volt.

Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.