230 MPG… Can It Be True?

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General Motors (GM) announced today that the new Chevy Volt electric car could get up to 230 miles per gallon (MPG) under new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for electric cars. (The EPA gave the Toyota Prius a 51 MPG rating, according to washingtonpost.com.)

The Volt, expected to launch in 2010 and cost around $40,000, is part of a new fleet of electric vehicles–coming from GM and other car companies–that some experts predict could make up 10 percent of car sales by 2013.

GM’s Volt will allow a driver to go 40 miles on a lithium-ion battery, with range-extension beyond that fueled by gas or other fuels.

According to the handy Plug-in Vehicle Tracker on Plug-In America’s Web site, only two electric cars are now widely available in the U.S.: Commuter Cars’s tiny Tango T600 EV, a two-passenger commuter car that sells for about U.S. $108,000, and the Tesla Roadster, which also carries a $100,000-plus price tag. (Read more on the Green Guide Blog.)

Nissan Motor Co. responded to GM’s Volt announcement today by saying the LEAF, Nissan’s new all-electric plug-in hatchback, would get a 367 miles-per-gallon rating under the new EPA guidelines the Dow Jones Newswires reported.

Prototype electric cars have been around since the early 1900s, so why aren’t electric cars on the road en masse now?

The cost of batteries, and their relatively short lifespan, as well as a lack of urgency to go gas free, according to experts. (Read more on NGM Blog Central.)

–Tasha Eichenseher

Human Journey

Meet the Author
Tasha Eichenseher is the Environment Producer and Editor for National Geographic Digital Media. She has covered water issues for a wide range of media outlets, including E/The Environment Magazine, Environmental Science & Technology online news, Greenwire, Green Guide, and National Geographic News.