Is the Volt the wrong kind of plug-in?
Carnegie Mellon University has finished carrying out an interesting study on the "impact of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) battery pack size on fuel consumption, cost and greenhouse gas emissions over a range of charging frequencies (distance traveled between charges)," according to GreenCarCongress.
In many driving scenarios, the study finds that conventional hybrid cars make more sense than any kind of plug-in hybrid. However, if a plug-in can be recharged every 20 miles or less, then a small-battery plug-in hybrid can be more cost-effective than a conventional hybrid. However, large battery plug-in hybrids, such as the Chevy Volt, were never found to be cost-effective.
Higher gas prices, and a number of other issues, significantly affect these results. Still, the study would seem to suggest that a plug-in Prius, for instance, is a more cost-effective approach to plug-in viability than is a vehicle like the Volt.
If true - and this study certainly doesn't establish truth - it would suggest that the government's plug-in tax credits are barking up the wrong tree by focusing on battery size.