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Is the EPA Overstating the Mileage of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles? | The Energy Collective

Below are two methods to calculate the CO2 emissions, grams per km, of plug-in hybrid, light-duty vehicles.

Method No. 1 is based on the energy input to the US power system in EV mode, and the energy of gasoline in gasoline mode.

Method No. 2 is based on an EPA method which results in approximately 90 mpg equivalent values, based on combining the “mileage” of EV and gasoline mode, as determined by EPA standard tests that simulate different driving conditions.

Also provided is a description of the European approach which is based on Method No. 1.

As the US, Europe, China and Japan manufacture most of the world’s light-duty vehicles – cars, SUVs, minivans, and 1/4-ton trucks – and export to each other, it is essential to have an easy-to-understand, global CO2 emissions standard in grams/mile that promotes the end result, which is less CO2 emissions from tailpipes and chinmeys.


In May 2012, the US finalized new standards to increase the corporate average fuel economy, CAFE, of cars and light trucks from the current 27.5 mpg to 35.5 mpg by 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025.

The Chevy Volt was used to illustrate this method.


The US power system CO2 emission intensity is 1.341 lb CO2/kWh.
Gasoline CO2 emission is 19.4 lb/gal
Chevy Volt (AC/DC conversion + charging) loss at 120 Volt is 16.1%, and at 240 Volt 8.9%
Chevy Volt “mileage” in EV mode is 0.30 kWh (DC)/mile (at the battery), or 0.3721 kWh (AC)/mile (produced by the power plant).
Chevy Volt mileage in gasoline mode is 37 mpg; EPA combined.



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