The EPA has retested the Chevrolet Volt and come up with a new number: 38. That is how many miles the Volt is now rated to travel on electric-only power; it also sees its MPGe combined rating rise to 98 MPGe. That’s an increase of 3 miles in EV mode and 4 extra MPGe.
To gain the extra mileage, Chevy grew the battery pack's capacity by changing the battery cell composition – it is now able to store a total of 16.5 kWh of energy (up from 16) and has a larger state-of-charge window at 10.8 kWh (up from 10.3). However, because of the larger storage capacity, the Volt is now expected to take 10.5 hours for a full charge on a 120V outlet, or 4.25 hours on a 240V outlet. The new battery cell composition still relies on manganese spinel chemistry, but General Motors' engineers modified the amount of each material for better battery-life performance and a larger cell.
The Volt's new 98 MPGe rating brings it closer to the rest of the electrified pack, but the competition still has it beat: the Nissan Leaf is rated at 99 MPGe, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV at 112 MPGe, the Ford Focus EV at 105 MPGe, and the Honda Fit EV at 118 MPGe. Its electric-only range also sits at the bottom of the pack at just 38 miles, but it is the only one of its competition to have a range-extending gas engine – the total distance you could drive on a Volt is around 380 miles, according to Chevrolet.
The extended electric driving distance could also help the Volt capture more sales, despite its high price tag. A 2012 Chevrolet Volt starts at $39,995, above the $35,200 Nissan Leaf, the $29,975 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and the $36,625 Honda Fit EV. (All prices include destination.), and at the same price as the the $39,995 Ford Focus EV.
When compared to most other range-extended vehicles, the Volt comes in at the top of its class. It handily beats the 52-MPGe Fisker Karma and the 52-plus-MPGe Ford C-Max Energi, and just squeaks out about the 95-MPGe Toyota Prius Plug-in. However, the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi due next year is expected to achieve at least 100 MPGe. We don't know what the electric-only range will be for either Ford model quite yet, but the Volt continues to beat both the Karma (32 miles) and the Prius (11 miles) with its new 38-mile range.
It should be noted these better ratings come at a price: Chevrolet's Volt is more expensive than the $32,760 Prius PHEV. Unsurprisingly, the Karma costs more than any other range-extended electric vehicle thanks to its luxury trappings and has a base price of a cool $88,000. Ford has yet to announce Fusion Energi or C-Max Energi pricing, but the base gas-powered 2013 Fusion is expected to start around $23,290, while the base C-Max Hybrid is expected to start around $26,790.
The 2013 Volt will go into production for the 2013 model year in July, with the 2013 cars available at dealerships starting in late August.