Top 10 Fuel Sippers (EPA Ratings)

MAY 30 2015 BY MARK KANE 55

All-electric cars are the most efficient ones among all types of drivetrains, followed by plug-in hybrids.

This fact is confirmed by the official data, which compares MPG for conventional cars with MPGe equivalent (33.7 kWh = 1 gal. of gasoline) for EVs, under three categories – combined & city/highway ratings.

Among the 10 best 2015 models, there are only all-electric cars, and the worst combined results were above 100 MPGe.

Top Fuel Sippers (EPA Ratings, 2015 Model Year)

Top Fuel Sippers (EPA Ratings, 2015 Model Year)

When we switch to the another comparison, for all-years and exclude all-electric cars, we can see that BMW i3 is a double winner.

According to the EPA, Chevrolet Volt has just slightly better fuel economy than the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid.

The best conventional hybrid cars in 2015 stand at 50 MPG, while Volts and other PHEVs often get a lot fuel economy in real world driving if all-electric mode is used often.

Top Fuel Sippers (EPA Ratings, All Years) (all-electric vehicles are excluded)

Top Fuel Sippers (EPA Ratings, All Years) (all-electric vehicles are excluded)

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55 Comments on "Top 10 Fuel Sippers (EPA Ratings)"

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MPGe…one of the most ridiculous measurement in the history of time. But at least it doesn’t contain bodyparts.


I agree with that sentiment if MPGe is used to compare BEVs mixed in with PHEVs. It just becomes nonsensical.

However, when comparing BEVs with each other it starts to make sense.
It’s interesting (if true) that the Tesla 70D is as efficient as a Nissan Leaf on the highway.
Then I read Bill Howland’s note here, that all is not as it seems efficiency-wise with charging.

Oh well! Never mind!

Actually, it is somewhat useful to compare against gas cars too!

The MPGe rating uses 33.7KWH as equal to 1 gallon of gas. Gas costs around $3.50 right now (It is $4/gallon for me.). 33.7KWH * $0.12/KWH = $4.04 for a “gallon” of electricity.

So at current prices 1 gallon of gas is close in price to 1 “gallon” of electricity. Thus, the MPGe value does actually show an approximate value comparison. Of course it varies as prices (of both gas & electricity) change.

My experience flies in the face of this. A gallon of gas will get you 40 miles in a Volt. A volt will also take you 40 miles on a full battery. But that’s 11kwh, not 33.7. I know that charging efficincy is factored in as well, but that’s not to the tune of tripling the power required to go 40 miles. Seems like a bad comparison to me.

Your experience seems very close in line to me. The Volt has 37 MPG on gas (close to your 40) and the volt has 98 MPGe on electricity (somewhat close to your (40 miles/11KWH) * (33.7 KWH/gallon) = 122 MPGe.

You seem to be a more efficient driver than most.

Driving on electricity is just much more efficient than gasoline. With the Volt, it is 98/37 = 2.6 times as efficient when on electricity.

I initially had problems with this conversion, too.

Basically, the crux is that while a gallon of gas contains 33.7 kWh of chemical energy, the inefficiency of ICE engines means that they are only able to convert around a third of that energy into actual propulsion.

So to take the Volt 1.0 as an example: the EV drivetrain can take ~13 kWh of electricity from the wall and store ~10 kWh in its battery pack, which it can then convert into 38 miles of range. Or it can receive 33.7k kWh (1 gal) of gasoline from a pump and convert that into 37 miles of range.

Measurments of efficiency are of course great. But kWh per km (or 10 km or 100 km or even miles… I’d turn a blind eye to using miles if at least it would be based on kWh) is more than enough to do that.

MPGe is just puting a blanket of ignorance on top of the already lacking skills in general science, technology and physics among the average american.

If you line them up by Wh/mile, or the EPAs more awkward kWh/100 miles, they would come out about the same.

Not at all surprisingly, the less aero the car, the bigger the car, the heavier the car, the worse it is. Any car is a combination of size, weight, and aerodynamics.

The Tesla is always at the bottom of the list, regardless what distance-for-energy measure you use because while its aerodynamics are pretty good, it maximizes size, and range (battery weight).

Anybody who thinks the Model 3 will be as big and luxurious as a Model S is in for a huge disappointment. The only way to reduce the cost of the Tesla, or any other car, to the magic $35K, 200 mile goal, in two years time, is going to entail reducing the size of the car, and improving the aerodynamics. Both of which will allow reducing the size of the battery (weight) required below 60 kWh.

“If you line them up by Wh/mile, or the EPAs more awkward kWh/100 miles, they would come out about the same.”

They would even come out *exactly* the same. 🙂 Or, for the mathematically inclined, the conversion from e.g. W/mile to MPGe is a monotonic function. It’s essentially an equivalent metric, just normalized to 33.7KWh (which is assumed to be the approximate energy of one gallon of gas).

Of course that is “Wh/mile” above …

They come out “exactly” the same only after you round the numbers

Nitpicking doesn’t address my point, which was that many people want magic, and will accept nothing less. They figure if they whine, and bluster that the car companies will deliver what they want. The car companies are constrained by physics, and our economic system. To get a real (profitable) price of $35K for a 200 mile range EV today will require some compromises.

Not sure who you are addressing, but I certainly don’t disagree with you. It’s laws of physics. I was rather commenting on the person who said MPGe was not a useful metric. I think it absolutely is. EV fans tend to compare the efficiency to ICE cars only, but as this table shows, there are significant differences in efficiency between EVs as well. Working on aerodynamics, weight etc. is just as important for EVs as for ICE cars.

Sorry. Sounds like you have a good grasp of the situation.

I was using this discussion to once again get at what I feel is the most important problem. Our current technology, which is all we have to work with in the time frame that will matter, is not good enough to allow us to keep driving the cars we are accustomed to.

I know many folks on here are sick to death of hearing me bring it up. But this is the only mainstream car forum that is even vaguely receptive to change.

It shows me how long the arm of Big Oil is…
I totally agree with Mikael, MPGe is only mixing up people.
We have MPG for ICE
We should have MPkWh for BEVs.
And both for PHEVs
No need to add another measurement
Keep It Simple S

I agree, too. Miles per kWh is the better value to compare BEVs and EVs when running on its charge. Most BEVs can get 3 miles per kWh and some get even better. If this is taken against gasoline, electricity is almost 4 time more efficient because all ICE will lose over 50% of its energy as heat, while an electric motor is 90% of better, and lose little heat.

This high efficiency is what motivating all the car manufacturers to go toward hybrid, PHEV or full BEV. As battery capacity grows, the EV factor gets better. When we can buy a 200+ mile BEV for less than $40,000 then the ICE powered vehicles will begin to lose sales.

Well, did they factor the electric energy to refine this gallon of gas?
No of course, so not all petroleum product need the same energy to crack it into gasoline.
Not counting, exploration, extraction, transportation, pumping, refining, pumping, distributing, pumping again, spill in an out at any step and so on and everything I forgot.
We can do the same with any energy source, like electricity and usually do it, but it alway seems that gas just happen in the car tank by magic.

Totally agree about this ridiculous measurement, the sooner USA adopts the Metric system the better.

Actually, it has formally been adopted in the US. It’s just that sometimes it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks…

You should also watch American Chopper vs. Metric System..


I learned the Metric system as a high school student in the 1960’s. It depends when and where you are educated. But I agree that the U.S. government should establish the Metric System now.

Well, I question the useability of these figures…..I’m not questioning the figures themselves, but they seem to start off with the assumption that the battery is fully charged, as if that just magically happens. If you look at Tesla’s own website for instance, charging an S from 120 volts takes 30 percent more energy than from 240. This car just has to go much further than a model S in practical every day driving where you don’t use the engine at all. Especially in the cold. And then there are the scary comments from, for instance ‘Edgar’ on the 900hp model S article a few days ago, where it is claimed the owner of a company ‘is afraid to go anywhere since the car constantly needs to be charged’. I’m assuming this happened during last winter’s record cold. Musk in the past has poked fun at people for not ‘plugging in’, so even he is saying the car needs to constantly be charged. A more valuable analysis would be how many kilowatt-hours are needed from the WALL for each mile of driving, both in the summer time and the winter time. On that metric, the GM products shine since they… Read more »

A/C energy consumption is, in fact, often considered for phevs and evs and may be included in these numbers.

No sure if you are aware, but the EPA test already includes the efficiency of charging in it.

The test procedure is standard SAE J1634 which specifies:
1) fully charging the car
2) leaving it overnight (this accounts for “vampire” losses)
3) driving on drive cycles until it can no longer keep up with the cycle
4) measuring the *AC* electricity consumption at the wall to determine efficiency.

And in the case where the car can charge at 120V both 240V, it specifies choosing the highest power available.

The 2014 Volt’s usable capacity is 11kWh. 35kWh/100 mile and 38 mile AER works out to 13.3kWh used to charge it during the test. That means 11kWh/13.3kWh = 82.7% charging efficiency. That’s decent, but I wouldn’t say amazing.

The Leaf for example has 21.3kWh usable, 30kWh/100mi, 84 mile range. Works out to 25.2kWh used. 21.3kWh/25.2kWh = 84.5% efficiency

85kWh Model S I believe is ~95% usable (81.1kWh/85kWh) from what I can find. 34kWh/100mile, 270 mile rating = 91.8kWh. 81.1kWh/91.8kWh = 88.3% charging efficiency besting both the Volt and Leaf.

Keep in mind that the above numbers already include overnight vampire losses.

I forgot to add, step four includes fulling charging the car again to measure AC electricity consumed.

Thank Jake for posting this.
It’s very well done and avoid any speculation about real or assume efficiency.
Sorry Bill, you drop the ball on that!

I’m not quite so quick to jump to conclusions as you are. Many times I have to experience a vehicle myself to find what others never mention.

David Noland at Green Car Reports is the only one who tried to do real world, everyday testing, on his personally owned S.

There have been some changes since then, but I would have to see things explained by someone who doesn’t have an axe to grind, and realizes that the epa numbers have historically been more wrong than right.

Some of their assumptions are downright silly. Why would they arbitrarily assume the highest power level available? It makes Tesla for one look good, because charging at 120 in the car is downright horrible. And you obviously have not read Edgar’s complaint on the 900 hp tesla article. But as time goes on I keep seeing that kind of posting from different people. Now, to get the most power for an S, that would be a 12 charger supercharger with the adjoining stall empty. I doubt they used this.

It specifies highest power on AC electricity using a typical ESS. It does not specify for DC chargers (like CHAdeMO and superchargers).

So for a single charger equipped model that would be 10kW for the Model S (all new Model S now come only with single charger from factory, dual charger 20kW is now a store option).

120V may be very inefficient for a Model S, but the likelihood of a Model S owner relying only on that isn’t so high in the first place since the 240V capable mobile connector is included with the car (unlike other EVs). The owner just needs a dryer outlet (or any 240V capable outlet).

Sorry ESS should be EVSE. I got it mixed up from the SAE EREV article.

The fact remains its an arbitrary distinction.
Ac or Dc is an irrelevancy.

MPGE was useful when gasoline was around $3.80 per gallon – at least that way you could use the figures to see how much you’d save with electricity. That’s for the price of electricity around me. But now that gas has come down in price you have to mentally adjust for this ‘constant’, as people in areas with confiscatory rates have always had to do.

So if electricity and gasoline cost the same, you still prefer to go out to a gas station and fill up with a toxic and explsove fluid, instead of plugging in at your home, and let the EV fill itself up while you sleep?

48.4 miles on 12.5kWh usable works out to 258Wh/mile (which IS pretty good).

However, I did some googling and it seems a P85D can get to 227Wh/mile going at 55-60mph steady state. And I’ve seen for the older models (P85D is actually the least efficient version) people have gotten down to 200Wh/mi.

It was a bit cool out at the time, but yeah I’d say that’s pretty good because the car air conditioner was also on at this time.

400 miles in real world driving? C’mon. If that were so there’d be all kinds of ads trumpeting that.

So, these numbers don’t have the ring of truth.

If I was purchasing an S (I did THINK I’d eventually get one since I installed 2 – Nema 14-50 recepticles in my Garage), I’d mainly be concerned about the performance in cold weather.

My Roadster was adequate, but overall it got around 1000 wh/mile during the cold winter months which was ok since most of the juice was spent keeping the battery warm.

But then, nothing get’s any closer.
I would stand that since they have used the same measurement for all the car they’ve rated, it’s a fair job and certainly one that I can trust comparaison.
Is there’s twitch and stuff that could alter this, it would be for all of them.
So I feel it’s pretty well done and valuable metric.
Except that using a gas equivalent for things that doesn’t use any is silly and should be avoided.
Using KWH and kilometre would be more logical, like using degree to measure temperature instead of trying to describe it by the thickness of the coat you have to wear to deal with it, wich MPGe is relative to energy.

Huh? The mpge figure is good for price comparison, if you live where I do and gasoline is $3.80 a gallon, which it is not (its around $2.70 currently). But as far as real value, that gets into the concept of a Prime Mover which I’ve tried to address several times and found its pointless to try to explain it.

And if you google it, Volt can do 80 miles per charge (11kWh) as well..

But it doesn’t mean its average efficiency…

I suggest MPK replaces MPGe.
(MPK – Miles Per Kilowatt-hour)

That would not be a good metric.

Telling people the Tesla 70D gets 0.33 miles per KWH doesn’t sound very useful. People are more familiar with >1 numbers, not decimals.

It would be quite pathetic of any car to only go 0.33 miles per kilowatt hour. I believe your math is incorrect as I routinely get 4 miles per kwh.

Indeed . . . I badly screwed that up. I did KWH/mile.

The miles/KWH is much better but they will still be clustered around the 3 to 5 region. That’s they have the KWH/100 mile number. It is like Europe’s liters/100km number.

Canada uses liters/100km as well … I’d prefer ‘km per liter’ (KPL).
Calculating from EPA specs the Tesla Model S70D (a full size performance AWD luxury car) gets about 3.5 MPK (240 miles / 70 kWh)!

But then, what stopping anyone to go metric as the rest of the world and show Kilometer/KWH.
Then, everybody stop miscalculating and whinning about imprecision of metric.

Since it’s a metric that is new to most american, it woudn’t matter not to compare with one that would go anyway.

If the U.S> went to Metric, then the Kilometer per kiloWatt-hour can be simplified to just meters per Watt-hour or MWh.

Mikael said:

“MPGe… one of the most ridiculous measurement in the history of time.”

Well said. Might as well rate automobile fuel consumption in the equivalency of bales of hay per week. After all, they’re just horseless carriages!

I’ll be glad when EV makers, and the EPA, quit trying to act like plug-in EVs are just a slightly different type of gas guzzler.

There is over a decade of tradition of measuring miles per gallon for the efficiency of vehicles (I can find old magazines from the 1910s talking about miles per gallon). It’s a familiar unit that’s hard for the public to give up.

The EPA lists kWh/100 mile also, but few people tend to use that.

“Well said. Might as well rate automobile fuel consumption in the equivalency of bales of hay per week. After all, they’re just horseless carriages!

I’ll be glad when EV makers, and the EPA, quit trying to act like plug-in EVs are just a slightly different type of gas guzzler.”

And yet, I bet you too think of the power of your vehicle in units of horse powers rather than Watts. 🙂

Seriously, what does it matter whether you use MPGe or M/KWh?

As an electrician I love kilowatts, they are more subtle and efficient.
And it’s a very simple measure to understand when you pedaling on your exercycle.
You learn that 200 watts of power is kind of important when you have to muscle it.

60% of the BEVs on that list are not available in my state.

What is missing from the hybrid list is highway mpg in charge sustaining mode, after the initial battery electric range is used up.
The BMW i3 is very efficient in EV mode, which is important if you are aiming for net zero grid electricity consumption using PV.
However, the i3 REX seems to very inefficient on gas compared to the benchmark Honda Insight coupe.
Also, some of the hybrids run on regular gas while some require premium, so cents per mile in charge sustaining mode would be a better comparison.
For drivers in regions with cold winters, winter cost per mile with heater on would highlight the inefficiency of the BMW i3 REX not using engine heat & lacking a heat pump.

“However, the i3 REX seems to very inefficient on gas compared to the benchmark Honda Insight coupe.”

However Honda Insight Coupe is also every inefficient on gas compared with those PHEV on electricity…

What is your point? The reason it has a plug is the fact that you can drive on electricity most of the time and then gas only when you need to so overall saving is high.

I drive the Fiat 500e and I’ve had it since December 2013 and just rolled 15,000 miles. All I know is I used to spend $150 a month on gas alone in a 2003 MINI Cooper and now I only spend an extra $35 per month on my electric bill to charge my car for the same driving. My car payment is a little higher than most due to credit history; if I was paying what most people are paying it would basically be paid for just from the gas I used to use in a MINI. My average mpge is higher then what they state here also, I tracked it for a year in writing. I get 144 average for all driving.

You example is a perfect 4x efficiency conversion. That is why I posted that EVs are four times as efficient as gas engine (ICE) vehicles. If 50% of the U.S. population converted to EVs, then the U.S. will not need to import petroleum anymore!

MPGe is a joke. Witness the fact that the Plug in Prius gets the green HOV sticker in CA, while my older, 2012 Volt doesn’t. Yet, I’ve gone over 1,000 miles without using gas at least 5 or 6 times, while the plug in Prius can’t go 12 miles without using gas.

Also, my car can go freeway speeds without using gas for about 38 miles. The plug in Prius reverts to gas after about 45 mph.

It’s a joke. And it’s all because of mpge.