Now let’s alter the scenario a bit and use as our “demo vehicle” a new Nissan Versa 1.6 — which you can buy for less than ten grand, brand spankin’ new. It may only get 29 mpg (average, city plus highway). But the difference in up front costs between it and the new Volt Wunderwagen is a forbidding $30,000 (okay, $23k if you subtract the $7,500 subsidy).

How much gas can you buy with twenty-three thousand dollars at $3 per? Six thousand, nine hundred gallons, chief. Holy Opec! That’s enough for 200,000-plus miles of motoring before you’d hit the “break even” point…

Even leaving aside the operating costs, how many people who are really concerned about gas mileage (that is, about the expense of a car) are in a position (or desire) to spend $40,000 on a vehicle? By definition, if you are spending that kind of money on a car, you either don’t care much about gas mileage — or don’t really have to care much about it.