Posted by Dale Buss on June 8, 2012 12:57 PM
Toyota Prius has it all over Chevrolet Volt as a brand these days except among a rabid core of Volt fans who believe the car is the greatest thing since the Model T. But at least in one area, General Motors has won bragging rights for now for its Volt over a Prius model: the mileage and range of the apples-to-apples versions of each product line.
GM, which is featuring "Happy Volt Owners" in a new online video push on its YouTube channel, said this week that changes to the battery of the Volt will extend the range of the 2013 model to 38 miles on a single charge, an increase of three miles. And its "mpg-equivalent" — a term the auto industry and regulators have come up with to try to help consumers understand how little gasoline they're using in hybrids compared with conventional vehicles — will rise to 98 miles from 94 when it goes on sale in August.
Meanwhile, the new plug-in hybrid version of Prius, using a similar combination of an all-electric propulsion system boosted from time to time by a gasoline engine, gets 95 mpg-equivalent and can travel only 15 miles on electricity alone.
"I always like it when our numbers are bigger — when bigger is better," Andrew Farah, Volt chief engineer, said in a conference call with reporters this week.
Of course, there's no way Volt will ever touch the overall Prius franchise for total sales, at least not in our lifetimes. On sale for more than a decade, Prius has reached more than 1.2 million in global sales and became the world's third-best-selling car line during the first quarter, thanks in large part due to surging U.S. demand.
Meanwhile, Volt sales have tacked up and down over the last several months as the brand has dealt with a U.S.-government investigatoin of a fire in a crash of the car, temporary production cutbacks and lately falling gasoline prices. Of course, Volt is experiencing strong demand in California right now after GM tweaked the car so that Volt drivers could qualify to drive solo in the state's high-occupancy vehicle lanes.
With a middling 1,680 sales in May, Volt is stuck in a sort of neutral. So every little bit of good news may help — along with those happy Volt owners spreading the world.