This is my one year review of the Chevy Volt. It’s been an exciting year. From the battery fire hype of the Volt to the Right being against the car that is American made and uses very little oil, the Volt has even outsold more than half of all car models in 2012 in the states.
Hey, is that Got Solar Girl? Let’s review the numbers. Exactly a year ago I said, “The charger at work should put me over the 200 mile per gallon plus range, we’ll see how that plays out”. I exceeded 200 miles per gallon. Let’s see by verifying the gauges inside the car.
I drove 13,428 miles. I actually only purchased from a gas station 27 gallons because the dealer filled up the car a couple of times during some free check-up services. I got 327 mpg the first year.
During the year I had about 50 people test drive the car, actually get behind the wheel. All of them loved how refined, quiet and well built the vehicle was. Oddly, the two people who didn’t like the car refused the actual test drive. The solar surplus gave me 6,000 miles of EV driving or 1,500 KWH. Now I could have gotten credited by the power company, at a low wholesale electric rate or about $75, but instead I used that surplus to drive 6,000 electric miles.
Remember, you get about 4 miles of electric drive for each KWH. Probably the number one question of the year is, “What happens when the battery depletes?”
Of course the answer is, the generator comes on and you keep driving. As far as my fuel costs, I purchased 27 gallons or $123. I drove over 13,000 miles so I got more than 100 miles per dollar (MPD) or just under a penny per mile. Just for comparison, the average Prius driver gets about 13 MPD and that will drop as the price of gas goes up. One of the benefits of having a heavy battery is the car has a low center of gravity so it takes the turns very well. It really grips the road. Also, it accelerates off the line very fast.
One of the things I enjoyed during the year was the massive hard drive where you can store up to 10,000 songs. I got almost 1,500 stored.I found myself pausing and rewinding the live radio or XM. I liked how the Volt handled in the snow this past winter, probably because it has a 400 pound battery running through it.
A great surprise was the enjoyment of one pedal driving. I don’t use my brakes that much so I expect to change my brakes at around 175,000 miles. My best EV range was 51 miles, the record is over 70. I like that it takes 2 seconds to begin re-charging. The rare gas station visit is short since a fill-up is only 8 gallons. The only maintenance required were a couple of free tire rotations.
Since I drive over 90% of the time in electric mode, I only drove just over 1,200 miles using the engine. My first oil change isn’t until 24 months. I expect my first tune-up to come at 300,000 miles or when I’ve used the engine for 30,000 miles. The Chevy Volt fits nicely into my comprehensive preparing for peak oil plan. It’s a form of energy insurance. The average Volt driver gets over 100 mpg. I didn’t like the factory floor mats and recommend the Lloyd mats.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the Volt’s battery. It’s liquid cooled, thermally manager and over engineered. You only use about 10 out of the 16KW in the battery. You can’t overcharge it above 80% and the charge won’t drop much below 30%. After 8 years or 100,000 miles, you should expect the battery will lose 10-30% of it’s capacity. If the average Volt driver gets 40 miles electric range now, in 8 years they should expect a 28 mile range if they lose 30%.
Why anyone would replace the battery after 5 or 10 years, makes no sense. If you get 28 mile range after 8 years, that is still double of what a plug-in Prius gets in electric only range. The Volt meets my goal of using the least amount of oil possible. Based on my driving habits, for a car up to $40,000, there is no other car that would use less oil and not have any range anxiety. That is why a Chevy Cruze or Toyota Prius isn’t the right car for me, that doesn’t help me reach my goal.