An interesting thread mentioning ROI (return on investment) timelines for the Volt...

Discussion in 'Chevy Volt Forum' started by SurrealOne, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member

  2. AMac

    AMac New Member

    Perfect timing for the article. this week in my Energy & Environment class we are learning about alternative energy sources for transportation vehicles. Did you know hybrids have been around since 1903? French manufacturer produced a gasoline-electric hybrid Krieger passenger car that had an electric motor, gasoline engine, and battery pack.

    I know a lot of the GM vehicles such as my 2011 Chevy Silverado have the Flex-fuel option, but the nearest flex fuel pump is in Boston, MA near Logan Airport. I'm not even aware of a flex-fuel pump in NH.

    ---------- Post added at 07:11 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:02 PM ----------

    After I posted this it made me wonder if Boston, MA really was the closes E85 fueling station. So after a quick investigation I was very surprised to see that I lived in one of the four states deprived of E85 fueling stations. This may be somewhat off-topic, but I wonder what the benefits are to using E85 and if I would get better gas mileage. why are there only four states in the U.S. who have not yet installed an E85 fueling station?
  3. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member


    The benefits of E85 have always been questionable. E85 has a stoichiometric ratio (check this: inferior to that of gasoline. When doing stoich calcs, lamda for gasoline is usually 1.0 (with an average variance of +- 0.004). As I understand it, people tuning for E85 (usually race use) set lambda somewhere from 0.8 to 0.85. This translates to needing more E85 to do the same job as gasoline ... which translates to fewer miles per gallon when using E85. Here's a read you also might enjoy that shows some sample stoich calcs and the impact on fuel flows and mpg:

    E85 also consumes corn ... which drives up corn prices, which impacts food prices since corn or corn derivatives are in so darn many things. This also impacts land prices and the prices of other farming items, which in turn drives up non-corn food prices. Also, while burning E85 has a positive short-term environmental impact (in the form of fewer greenhouse gasses being thrust into the atmosphere) the long term implications are far less clear, as a shift to E85 could result in more forest being converted to cropland for corn, which could actually harm the environment more than simply burning gasoline ... if enough forest were converted to cropland. An interesting read on both of these topics is here:

    Couple the aformentioned items with the end of federal subsidies for E85 this summer (Source: and you begin to see why there may be low or no adoption for E85. Honestly, the E85 concept was never terribly sound to begin with, so states like your own may have done you a service by not bothering.

    Another thing you might look at for discussion in your E&E class is the V2G (Vehicle-To-Grid) concept. Here's a read on that subject: Right now V2G costs insane coin to implement (it's purely experimental) and the grid sellback returns are low. However, the concept, if mass-produced and mass-implemented has a little bit of merit in the form of offsetting grid expenses or converting latent battery power in a hybrid's batteries to on-demand grid power, which helps offset the cost of fuel for said hybrid. The greater benefit is the fact that vehicles produce 8-10x more power than the grid, itself, does daily. Now imagine if we needed power for something and we plugged them all in to support a big spike. It could be a national asset ... as it takes piles of electricity to do things like refine weapons-grade nuclear material, power the HARP project, etc.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  4. Jeremy09LTZCrew

    Jeremy09LTZCrew New Member

    I'd already done some light research on the matter and determined E85 was essentially worthless for me to pursue. That was mostly based on the lackluster overall benefit to the environment, if any, and the fact that even wtih the government subsidies, the lower mileage often makes the cost as much or more than gasoline.

    Thanks for the additional reading though. I'm going to go through those links as I have time here at work. Perhaps I'll bring it up in my politics course, just for fun.
  5. moogvo

    moogvo Moderator

    It must be alternative energy month. Me and a buddy were talking about it the other day. Natural gas is a technology that has been in use for decades for fueling vehicles. It is cheap and eliminates dependency on foreign oil. The source is plentiful, but the only flaw is the infrastructure. My wife's Prius gets about 42mpg in mixed real world driving. There are other (more desirable) offerings from Toyota that get 38 to 42 without the hybrid drive. Not to mention the battery replacement that we now have on the horizon that will cost about 4500 dollars for a reconditioned pack. There will never be a return on investment for this car. It was a marketing scam that many people (including my wife) fell into. That is before we even factor in the maintainence costs on the thing due to the fact that there are only 2 people on the planet that know how to work on them.

    The whole corn thing will never work out and will never be a threat to big oil. The hybrid thing is a game of smoke and mirrors. These alternative fuel sources are no threat to the oil companies because they are not real world alternatives. HHO injection? Hang on for a second while I laugh at the pure thought of that ever working...

    Natural gas. It works and gasoline powered vehicles can be converted over to use it. We will never see that offered as an alternative, though because that WOULD cut our dependence on foreign oil. If people were truly looking for alternatives, that one would have surfaced a long time ago and would have been in the mainstream by now.

    Finally,diesel engines are superior to gasoline burning cars and trucks. The majority of vehicles overseas run on diesel. They are more efficient and in spite of what the tree huggers tell you, they burn every bit as clean as gasoline engines while achieving much better fuel economy. It is priced higher than regular gasoline in spite of it being less costly to produce to detract potential diesel buyers.

    The reason big oil doesn't care about hybrids is because the electric drive only adds 8 to 10% to the mileage. They aren't bothered by the corn grinders because that fuel source poses no threat. The HHO thing...ummm... Yeah. That ain't gonna fly either.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  6. Jeremy09LTZCrew

    Jeremy09LTZCrew New Member

    I've read a few articles pertaining to using natural gas as well including several examples of fleet vehicles all being converted at a greatly reduced overall cost. I've never bought into the hybrids for this reason: If the government truly wanted to reduce oil consumption, foreign or otherwise, it would have happened a while ago. I'm not a conspiracy theory type of person. I do consider myself a realist though. There's just not the money in natural gas. A few years ago I was listening to some companies reporting their quarterly earnings and my ears perked up when I heard Chevron announce a $7.5 Billion profit. Again, that's quarterly. That number alone told me the likelihood of oil consuming vehicles being replaced was slim. No environment group can begin to compete with the amount of money the oil companies can pump into government and other entities.
  7. aloxdaddy99

    aloxdaddy99 New Member

    Jeremy you hit the nail right on the head. The reason we don't have 100mpg cars is because of the oil companies. They will do whatever they can to block something like that because it cuts into their crazy high profit margin. I think switching to Natural Gas is the way the country will go. Many forklifts run off of it now. The issue with it is the lack of infrastrucure. I only know of a few natural gas stations, and the ones I do k now of are onsite of Natural Gas companies. At one time I read some where that if a person or company owned a natural gas filling station that they had to open it to the public. They didn't have to advertise they had it though.
    There are companies out there thar are spending big money on a safe Hydrogen. If that is my only option I will walk or pedal a bicycle. I work in an industry that produces (actually seperates steam) hydrogen and I don't want it under me while driving.
    The part I find funny with the hybrids is the lack of forsight from the manufacturers. Those batteries won't last forever. Eventually it will end up as more Hazmat waste that will need to be disposed of. The chemicals that are needed to make those batteries will also become Hazmat waste.
  8. Enkeiavalanche

    Enkeiavalanche Moderator

    Real simple.. If you can find E-85 40-50+ lower in price then Reg Get it. If not Don't bother.. You will Lose 30% - 40 Mpg on avg..
  9. moogvo

    moogvo Moderator

    My wife drives her Prius to the University every day where she studies economics. We had a chat last week about the interest that motor companies have in the oil industry. Her professor (who supposedly used to work for GM until retirement when he moved to NC) told the class that the auto makers don't want to make cars that are TOO economical because they have stock in the oil industry. She also related that he told the class that there was an inventor who had invented a 6 cylinder engine that would make 250HP and get 100mpg on pump gas. Allegedly, GM bought the design and filed it away. Then, 2 years later, the inventor showed up a second time. This time with a 4 cylinder engine that could produce 255HP and 105mpg. Allegedly, GM not only bought the design from the guy, but also paid him an additional sum to never design another engine.

    I call BS on MOST of that story, but it stands to reason that the motor companies (or their execs) would have stock in the oil industry. If they were to pour too much into realistic alternative fuels, they would be short-changing themselves... I am not sure how much truth there is in that, but I DO see it as being possible.

    Sure, they roll out "revolutionary" technology like the Prius, Inspire, Volt, E85 and so on. They can't make it work "Too well", however.
  10. AMac

    AMac New Member


    You really got me thinking on this one, thank you for the added information. Obviously we know that no matter what the fuel source, demands will increase and supplies will decrease unless production is greater than consumption. I think I'd be interested in testing out a hybrid vehicle rather than a vehicle I have to plug in. One of the problems with hybrids is that maximum efficiency is achieved in an environment of city driving. The regenerative breaking that occurs in stop and go driving results in excess energy that could be used to charge battery powering the electric motor. The electric motor can also assist when power boosts are needed during times of acceleration. 90% of my driving is highway. Going through a toll house helps in the sense I break to slow down for passing through.

    So what is the point in selling flex-fuel vehicles in a state like Maine where the nearest flex-fuel station is hundreds of miles away? Is GM just trying to flood the market to meet emission requirements?

    I'm back at the point of considering my MPG efficiency and ultimately I do not need more power. Though if I wanted good MPGs I would have been better off sticking with my diesel powered hatchback.

    For now I'll have to remind myself when driving back and forth to work that "gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph"

    Okay and here's information of interest, "An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2 percent."
    The cap on my truck: Is the decrease in dynamic drag greater than the loss of efficiency due to greater vehicle mass?

    ---------- Post added at 09:34 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:23 PM ----------

    after learning about the dangers of hydrogen and the complex ratios that could easily result in explosions I agree with you. What would happen if a hydrogen powered vehicle got into an accident with a chevy volt?

    Having so many differently fueled vehicles on the road, it makes me wonder what studies have been done to consider the possibility of chemical reactions that occur during collisions with vehicles having a different fuel power.
  11. Sierraowner5.3

    Sierraowner5.3 New Member

    there is a break even point on E85. enkei hit it on the head. depending on the vehicle it changes the difference required. what is a myth is the idea that E85 causes higher food prices. even with the increased demand for corn, production has risen to match, mostly thru hybrids that produce more. i dont know everything there is to know about it, but i dealt with it a fair bit before joining the army. E85 was never intended to replace regular gas, just help. im of the opinion that diesel and CNG is that way to go, but what do i know.

  12. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member

  13. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator

    In Michigan we have E-85 pumps at almost every gas station I stop at. But, it is generally 10 cents cheaper per gallon. With the decrease in fuel economy it is just not worth it. Give me 80 cents to a dollar cheaper then I may consider putting it in my truck.
  14. Sierraowner5.3

    Sierraowner5.3 New Member

    im not saying i know everything there is to know about the topic, just somewhat knowledgeable from having worked in the field. alot of the reason for higher prices for food is the cost of fuel, seed, fertilizer and so on. basically, corn costs more because the inputs to grow it cost more.

    not to say i know everything to blame for the price of food, or that E85 may be hurting more then helping, i dont know enough to say either way but you cant say that E85 causes the whole problem.

  15. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member

    I only know what I read from the government report ... and I'm not someone who believes everything the government tells me. You've probably got a greater chance of being correct than those monkeys. :rofl: Who knows?!
  16. Strino78

    Strino78 New Member

    The yield of E-85 obtained from corn is riduculous and in no way profitable by even the biggest stretch of the imagination. In fact, E-85 promotes increased fuel usage in vehicles that aren't specifically designed to run ethanol; and ethanol is also a 2-stroke engine's arch nemisis. If you have a two-stroke and run E-85 in your mix, a rebuild is soon in your future. Outboards, string-trimmers, chainsaws, ATVs, motocross bikes, and snowmobiles all need to be aware of the damages that E-85 will cause internally -- especially the gaskets and seals on small carb engines.

    I avoid E-85 in everything I own. It actually costs more to use E-85, when you factor in the decreased fuel milage you get with it. It costs a few pennies less per gallon, but consumes more per mile. Its an unfair trade-off.

    It has been widely discussed around the world -- and if the U.S was really serious about bio-fuels..... the FDA and DEA (and whatever other agencies are responsible for making it illegal) would swallow their pride and levy the prohibition against growing hemp marijuana and subsidize farmers to grow it. It's not that hippie stuff that you fact.. smoking it will give you nothing you can consider a high, but it gets lumped into the same category.

    Hemp marijuana is not the same as cannabis marijuana. Hemp crops yield extremely high amounts of alternative bio-fuel mass, and its growth and vegetation cycles are more resiliant and quicker than any corn crops in existance. Hemp also serves uses for things such as rope and heavy textile fibres. Using food crops to create fuel is just ridiculously goes in your belly, not in your gas tank. Other countries see the value and use of Hemp... its time for the U.S.A to pull up its pants, tighten its belt.. and behave like a civilized and modern society... not hiding behind some stupid prohibition laws set in place over 50 years ago... and only done so because they seriously believed that by smoking pot one would become pacifist and more succeptible to communist influence...allowing them to take over.
    Last edited: May 1, 2012
  17. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member

    Interestingly enough, the first state to criminalize marijuana was California ... in 1907 ... specifically by including it as a poison and causing it to fall under The Poison Act. Other states began adopting laws that criminalized marijuana in various ways soon after. It was made illegal at the federal level for all but medical and industrial uses ... by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. As you can see it was criminalized long before the concerns you raised ... and not for the reasons you mentioned.

    In 1996 California passed proposition 215 which legalized marijuana for medicinal use. However, such possession and use still violated (and violates) the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The Supreme Court has twice (once in 2001 and again in 2005) upheld the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 ... in cases where those growing, handling, possessing, and/or distributing marijuana under state law were violating the cited federal law. Federal law trumps state law and the Supreme Court has been clear on this issue. This means it has to be decriminalized at the federal level first and foremost.

    It's ironic that the first state to criminalize the substance ... is also the first to try to make it publicly available for medicinal use. I don't mind pro-marijuana talk, in fact, I'm all for it. However, I wish people who speak up on the subject would actually educate themselves on the substance's real history before doing so. While it's decrimininalized in many places, the substance isn't actually legal in any country in the world -- largely because of our own country's global politics.

    Now back to our regularly scheduled talk about fuel...
    Last edited: May 1, 2012
  18. Strino78

    Strino78 New Member

    The whole subject of cannabis is indeed a slippery slope. What I am trying to illustrate is this: the U.S gov. doesn't distinguish between Cannabis Marijuana and the non-psychoactive Cannabis used for industrial and commercial purposes. Hemp's characteristics for growing are requite respectable: up to 25 tonnes per hectare per year in dry mass and it requires low herb/pest control, and can grow in relatively infertile soil.

    It's really just my personal opinion on this, but if the laws would soften up and allow for hemp growth in a regulated fashion it would be a resourceful plant that can be used for many different things, and is a far reach from its cousin the "pot" plant. Hemp plastics, hemp cloth, hemp paper, hemp ropes, hemp oils (omega-3), and so many other possibilities -- just by easing up a little on some laws that were extremely vague to begin with. You can say no to pot and say yes to hemp!

    Interesting tidbits: more hemp is exported to the United States than to any other country, canvas was a word used to describe the cannabis cloth material used to make the sails for boats, and hemp is a hollow-core stand fibre material making it better at body temp regulation and insulation than cotton.

    In a way it would be similar to having a prohibition of alcohol and stating that ethanol, iso and methanol alcohols were all the same thing. A bit of paperwork and regulatory changes could allow for hemp growth to occur, and give American farmers an opportunity to keep corn for feed, and grow hemp for biofuel or one of its other uses. With hemp's diverse nature, biofuel could be the tip of the iceberg for business growth that could develop in the country.

    Just some interesting hemp releated links...
    makes ya think.. maybe the gov screwed farmers out of a really good cash crop that would have been the "new" corn
    Last edited: May 1, 2012
  19. mikeymartin1979

    mikeymartin1979 New Member

    Are they still suggesting you only charge your battery to 80% to extend its life? That was a huge downside for the estimated mileage on the last two model years.
  20. Conlan Rose

    Conlan Rose Super Moderator

    The software does that not the person charging the Volt. It also only drains to 30%, GM says it helps the batteries last up to 10 years and makes it worth the shorter run time. Also Chevy posted a lot of videos on their Youtube page about how to get more out of a charge. Big things are starting the climate controls while Volt it charging before you leave the house that way it doesn't take as much battery power to warm up or cool down the cabin. All this can be controlled through the Chevy mylink app.

    If a person was really smart they would hook up their Volt charging station to a solar power system so during the day the sun would charge the lead acid battery banks and at night with an inverter those lead acid deep cycles would charge the Volt and have it ready for the morning. Initial cost would be high but over time it would pay for itself easily.

    For those talking about loss of corn resources yup its really stupid which is why GM, ExxonMobil, Ford and other companies are working on finding a way to turn unused/useless plant matter into E85. They would use things like the corn stalks, husks, leaves, and other by products of many other plant products break them down to usable energy and create E85 that is cheaper and better for the economy. The main obstacle is creating an enzyme that can break down cellulose into usable glucose. They are also trying to do a similar thing with alge.

    My truck won't run on E85, nor any biofuel, but I really love the idea, it's just really hard to achieve. My truck gets about 12 city and 20ish highway and thats not really going to change no matter what magic tech they find because I'm not getting rid of my Gen I L31 Vortec 5.7L V8. It runs strong, has plenty of torque, and when paired with that 4L60e they're the perfect combo.

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