The “Greening” of our household Fleet (Chevrolet Volt)
Thought I’d take a break from my normal posts and talk a little about a new addition to our household.
I’ve been watching the various developments of electric cars over the past 2 years or so waiting for a vehicle that I thought would meet our needs. I’ve read pretty much every article about every production or soon-to-be production electric or plug in hybrid vehicle with the intent of moving off of gasoline as much as possible. My reasoning behind the strategy is that I believe we need to lessen our dependence on oil – especially foreign oil. That is key to our energy independence in the future so we might as well start now.
Our needs for the car are pretty simple as we have a nice car for the long road trips that we take a couple of times a year – what we needed was an around town car for our day to day routine. Our second car was a 2005 Chevrolet Corvette – not exactly a green machine with mileage in the low teens – but it handled the chores of satisfying my mid-life crisis and my wife’s enjoyment at being the center of attention for males of all ages as she drove “her” Vette around town. Anyway, back to our requirements – each one of us probably puts between 20 and 50 miles on our cars in a typical day. Many of our trips are just short commutes with a mixture of town and highway driving. On the surface, any of the all electric vehicles might have met these needs – except for the uneasy feeling that something might come up where we need more range on occasion and also that we didn’t want to obsess over whether the car could “make it” without stopping for a charge on a longer trip. That led us back to the plug in hybrid concept where the car drives and performs like an electric but has a “back-up” gasoline power source in case you need extended ranges or just happen to exceed your all-electric range. That cut the field of available competitors significantly – there are really only 3 current options. The Fisker Karma is a BEAUTIFUL automobile and would have been a sportscar class upgrade from the Corvette – unfortunately, they run around $100,000 which was out of our range. At the other end of the scale is the new Prius plug in hybrid. We have always liked the Prius as an affordable and efficient around town car but the plug-in version only gets about 11 miles on a charge before reverting to gasoline. The last, and best, option for us was the Chevrolet Volt. More expensive than the Plug-in Prius but with a 40 mile all electric range. It is also better equipped for what we wanted.
To make a long story short, I test drove a Volt a few weeks back, took Dee in drive it a few days later, and then finally bought it home with us (having traded-in the Corvette). The deciding factor for both of us was not only that it met our driving requirements, it was also FUN to drive (remember this is coming from Corvette drivers). It has surprising acceleration due to the high instant torque of the electric drivetrain and it is smooth (and quiet) as silk. Given the incentives for buying an electric car at the current time, this was a no brainer. The photo below shows the car plugged into our brand new (today) 220V charging station which turned out to be entirely free after incentives.
To date we have driven the Volt about 400 miles. 99% of those have been electric – we have used less than a tenth of a gallon of gas but love the fact that it is there if we want to take longer trips. We just changed our electric bill to a “time of use” billing and have the car set to charge when the electricity rates are the lowest (and when it places minimal impact “on the grid”). So far we are really enjoying this fun little car and feel good about lessening our contribution to oil dependence.
Just as a postscript to this post – the Volt has been kind of a lightning rod for the political discourse surrounding the US auto industry. While there has been a lot of bad information circulated about it, this interview on Fox News (not a source I use very often for authoritative data) attempts to set the record straight…..