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 ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

  2. AMac

    AMac Rockstar 3 Years GMTC Chick 500 Posts ROTM Winner

    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 ROTM Winner 1000 Posts


    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 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    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 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    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 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    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 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    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 Loving the Outdoors Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    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 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    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 Rockstar 3 Years GMTC Chick 500 Posts ROTM Winner


    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.

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