So GM says the Chevy Volt will be getting 230 MPG... somehow. Outrageous, right? But not exactly unique. Every now and then, automakers come out with something that's just too good to be true. Here's seven of their biggest whoppers.
Well, the EPA now says that despite the number being derived from a "draft standard" for plug-in hybrids, they haven't driven the car so they can't really back GM's 230 MPG claim. Awkward for everyone, huh? But if you think that's bad, try these on for size and try not to get embarrassed for them.
Shelby Super Cars Ultimate Aero EV Charges In Ten Blistering Minutes!
The Ultimate Aero, announced last year by Shelby Super Cars, will have twin 500 HP electric engines and get to 60 in 2.5 seconds, says a press release from Shelby - that's the world-famous Jerod Shelby, by the way, no relation to Texan chili-maker Carroll Shelby; we're certain Jerod wouldn't want you mixing them up. Anyway, outrageous performance claims are one thing, but the same document claims that, when using a 220V quick-charge kit, the car can top off its lithium-ion batteries in ten minutes. Really? For batteries designed to run twin 500-horse engines? Shelby Super Cars did not elaborate on whether they said "220V quick-charge kit" when they meant "direct hit by lightning bolt."
Tesla Roadster's Incredible Shrinking Range
First it took them longer than expected to get cars to customers, with VP Malcolm Powell once answering a question about expected production dates with the Clintonesque "It depends what you call production." Then the maximum range started falling, from 250 to 240 to about 220. Then, when the car actually got into the hands of people who drove it the way it was advertised, with lots of 4-second 0-60 action and all-torque-from-zero-revs electric boogalooing, it gave about 100 miles and gave up the ghost; AutoWeek got only 93 miles from theirs on one test. Sigh.
Ford Gives Neiman Marcus Shoppers First Crack At The New T-Bird
The reimagined Thunderbird was first made available as a special edition in the 1999 Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog, and all 200 sold within two hours. Deliveries, the catalog said, would start in June. They didn't, and Ford claimed it couldn't find the cars; they'd left Michigan, reps said, but after that the trail of a whole bunch of cars went cold. In October of 2001, Ford announced that all 200 had finally been delivered. Incredibly, not one of the extremely patient customers cancelled their order.
Chrysler Claims Damaged, Dealer-Driven Cars Were "Newly Tested"
"We always thought testing was part of the manufacturing process," Lee Iacocca said, in 1987, and that's undoubtedly true. But by "testing" he was referring to the practice of disconnecting a car's odometer at the dealer and allowing employees to drive the cars home,as long as they reported on the cars' quality later. There's no record of how many of the reports consisted of "This K-car is just the greatest, boss!" Worse, some of the cars were damaged in "testing" and then sold as new. Chrysler claimed that everybody in the industry did it, apologized profusely, and offered new cars to those who bought the damaged "zero-mile testers"- all of this during the "If you can find a better car, buy it" era. Chrysler then discontinued the practice — which at that point had been going on for 40 years.
Saturn Is A New Kind Of Car Company!
Okay, for a while, it was. The plastic body-panel concept wasn't a bad idea. Doughnuts at the dealerships were neat, although the "new Saturn family member" ceremony thing in the old TV ads was kind of creepy. But when they threw a Saturn reunion party, more than 40,000 people showed up. But costs increased, foreign automakers brought their own costs down by building plants here, and long story short, GM lost its nerve for the whole innovation thing. In the end, it was only a different kind of car company if you consider Opel "different."
If you were one of the Rolling Stones, Eltons John or Sultans of Brunei who put a deposit down on the $580,000 XJ220, you wanted an all-wheel drive V12 supercar that would go 220 miles per hour. What you took delivery of, if you didn't give up and buy a Ferrari F40 instead, was a rear-wheel drive V6 that eventually went 217, when they ran straight pipes. Jaguar said that the twin-turbo six gave better performance, but that was pretty much all they offered in their defense; the car sat around high-priced dealerships for years, embarrassing everyone. And it looked like a giant lady-shaver.
GM Claims 230 Miles Per Gallon, Whatever That Means
Sorry, we just can't let this go. Within hours, everyone was asking exactly what 230 MPG from a plug-in hybrid like the Volt really was. You have to think that GM was really regretting the decision to call the whole marketing campaign "What Is 230?" And to be fair, they might have some sort of rationale, such as using advanced Monte Carlo method deterministic algorithms to model vehicular performance. Now, don't get us wrong; we have high hopes for the Volt and we want it to be good. But making claims that are hard-or maybe not even possible-to really verify is no good, especially when there's plenty of reasons to believe that buying for milage is kind of outrageous anyway.