2014 Chevrolet Volt with owner Ben Rich and electric-car advocate Tom MoloughneyEnlarge Photo
When I traded in my 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car for a 2014 Chevrolet Volt, I wrote an article with the bold prediction that I would now use less gasoline even though my new car has a gasoline engine.
There was a spirited discussion following that article and now I have some data to shed some light on which allows me to use less gas given my propensity for road trips.
Here's a look at the data.
DON'T MISS: Why My 2014 Chevy Volt Uses Less Gas Than My All-Electric Car Did (Aug 2014)
From February 2013 through July 2014, I drove 4,500 miles in the i-MiEV and another 4,895 miles in rental cars.
I also took a 4,500-mile road trip on my electric Zero S motorcycle with the "Ride the Future" Tour, and we made the movie Kick Gas--but that’s another story.
Total travel in the i-MiEV plus rental cars was 9,395 miles. Over that time, I spent $919.44 on gas mostly in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia.
Scenes from 'Ride the Future' electric-vehicle tour across the U.S., Summer 2013, in 'Kick Gas' filmEnlarge Photo
The national average cost of gasoline during that time was $3.47, so I used roughly 265 gallons of gas to travel 4,895 miles.
It's important to note that during that time, I rented a van twice. Once was on a round-trip journey to bring my electric motorcycle to Washington, D.C., for the Rolling Thunder rally. (My bike was more like the rolling whisper.)
The other time was a one-way trip from New Jersey to Charleston, South Carolina, to begin the "Ride the Future" Tour.
This explains why my fuel efficiency for rental cars and vans averaged out at only 18.5 mpg. However, including my electric-car miles, my overall fuel efficiency was 35 mpg.
2012 Zero S electric motorcycle and 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car [photo: Ben Rich]Enlarge Photo
With the Volt I traveled 6,500 miles between August 2014 and April 2015, and bought $482 of gas.
The average price of gas was $3.43 during that time, giving me an overall consumption of 141 gallons and an overall fuel efficiency of 46 mpg.
This includes one trip up to New Hampshire in which I brought my electric motorcycle on a trailer. So the miles covered with the Volt transporting the motorcycle was about half as far as with the rental cars during my i-MiEV tenure.
That gives a 10-mpg advantage right away to the Volt, with both cars having a similar ratio of gas-to-electric driving. The average gas mileage has increased lately since most of my driving has been all-electric.
So it appears that my hypothesis was correct: Driving a Volt allows me to use less gasoline than driving an all-electric car around town and renting a gas-powered car for road trips.
There are some other important factors that have validated the decision to terminate my i-MiEV lease early and go with the Volt.
First, the overall quality of the Volt is significantly better than the i-MiEV. These two really are't in the same category, so I won’t compare the details here. The i-MiEV is a runabout car with only the barest of essentials, while the Volt is a comfortable and refined vehicle.