Sharing moments in time…

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.

“Bolt” (named after the San Diego Chargers) the Volt

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…..

12 responses

  1. Scott,
    You must be a crazy environmentalist. All those wildlife photos and now a Volt. 🙂 Congratulations, and it is a nice looking car to boot.

    May 17, 2012 at 7:53 am

    • Hi Daniel,
      Just trying to do my part for many of the things you discuss on your blog. Keep it up!!

      May 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm

  2. Wow! Looks cool for sure! Imagining it being charged in a power starved country like ours! They will need to invent solar powered chargers before I buy one 🙂

    May 17, 2012 at 11:58 am

    • Madhu,
      There are already many people using solar panels to charge their cars. I may get there eventually. In the meantime, most of the energy generated in California comes from natural gas, wind, solar, hydro, nuclear and just a little coal – getting towards more renewable energy every day.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      • That is great! I can dream of owning a beauty like that sometime in the near future, then 🙂

        May 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      • Not sure how “near” the near future will be but I’m hoping that the momentum keeps building.

        May 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm

  3. Good on you Scott! My husband is in love with the Tesla. What are your thoughts on it? PS Love your superficial views on owning the Corvette. Very amusing 🙂

    May 18, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    • I had been watching the development of the Tesla S for years – I really like that car! My issue with it is that the price went up – stuff that was supposed to be standard are now options. That, plus the fact that the lower priced models with the small battery packs are still not good enough to meet my long distance travel needs. In the end, the Volt was a better compromise for us.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:50 am

      • I think you made a good choice… oops, i correct myself. My husband says you made a good choice 😉 He loved the photo of your car being charged. when Ali told me the price of that Tesla, it is ludicrous to make things options! Enjoy the new car!

        May 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      • Thanks Marina – we are really enjoying it so far. Its a pleasure to drive and it will be many months before we take it to the gas station for the first time.

        May 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm

  4. Bravo to you! Thanks for this post and explaining some of the alternatives. It can be quite confusing with so many options and parameters.
    Glad you’re enjoying your new car.

    May 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    • You’re most welcome Jackie. Never an easy decision but so far we’re very happy with it.

      May 20, 2012 at 7:30 pm

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