Chevy Volt – 50,000 Mile Review

The Chevy Volt was a sparkling jewel in GM’s new product pipeline. Then Tesla stole the show like a gyrating beefcake duo smuggled into a League of Women Voters meeting.

Nevertheless, Chevy built a strong, practical electric car. We bought a copy in 2013. My family put it through a real world, 50,000 mile test.

Emmer Family’s 2013 Chevy Volt

A battery powers the car for the first 38 miles. Then a small gasoline engine automatically and silently kicks in for another 340 miles of travel. Electric range varies, primarily between 32 and 44 miles. The battery in the new generation 2017 Volt is rated for 53 miles.

The 110 volt original equipment charger takes 10 hours to recharge the car from a normal household outlet. Our aftermarket 240 volt charger takes 3.5 hours.

As a fuel, local grid electricity is cheap, equivalent to a gas price of $1.50 per gallon1. When the car is running on gasoline only, the EPA rates it at 37 mpg. That is consistent with our experience.

Overall MPG depends on miles driven between charges. Short trips use less gasoline, long trips more. Trips less than 35 miles between charges will use no gasoline. Take that, jihadis. On my family’s regular 55 mile round trip, the Volt averages 80 mpg.

We zap to the Front Range and back on 45 mpg, without recharging en route.

The dual system Volt is more capable than electric-only cars. Range is a real world issue. Waiting for a charge is like waiting for a bus. Wasted time is wasted time.

The Volt’s interior has a tech look. The central panel is a bit crowded. Temperature controls are distracting to use. It’s cruise control is a dream, however. The bluetooth is easy to set up and the sound is great.

Our biggest complaint is that the interior only seats four. The battery takes the space of a fifth passenger.

Excepting a couple of minor issues, the car has been highly reliable. The hatchdoor latch loosened. It was a quick fix. The dealer has had trouble extinguishing the check engine light. C’est la vie.

We took some technological risk to buy the car. It does not take much for a cutting edge to become a bleeding edge. Yet, real Volts are rapidly racking up real miles in real life. Battery issues are almost nonexistant. One couple has rolled over 300,000 miles in a Volt. Their smiles are as wide as a windshield.

The Volt is utterly unlike the early Prius. Only a handful of cars were slower. One was any VW bus. Or a first generation Isuzu Trooper. When I realized that the last highway-choking Trooper had finally labored up Georgetown hill, I was struck with a bone rattling revelation. There really is a God…one to thank for yanking the Trooper off the road…with an Eleventh Commandment…thou shalt not be late.

If one is late, it is not the Volt’s fault. Sport mode is a kick in the pants. The car romps up Vail Pass. The feel of the Volt on the road is dreamy. It is substantial. It is nimble. A bit like an anvil on ice skates.

Many mountain people who otherwise would own a Volt have been seduced by all-wheel drive. Practicality often shreds principles, as Presidential voters of both parties know.

Not with the Volt. Much of the winter traction of AWD can be gained by swapping those “all-season-but-snow-season” tires for premium snowies in the winter. The right tires make a huge difference.

How does the Volt stack up on the carbon front? Chris Hildred over at Holy Cross Energy, says that his company’s electricity is 30% renewables, 60% coal, and 10% natural gas. That reduces the Volt’s C02 output to roughly 70% of a 35 mpg gasoline car. That assumes 65 miles between charges, our family’s pattern. Shorter trips use less gas, potentially down to zero, with similar C02 reductions.

Further, Chris can set you up on all wind or all hydro electricity for a very modest 10% to 15% bump up in cost.

A typical three year’s worth of fuel is $2,400 for the Volt2 vs $3,200 for a 35 mpg car, and $5,600 for a 20 mpg SUV.

Is the Volt a terrorist pacifier? If petroleum money supports Islamist violence, the answer is yes.

The federal and state poli-bureau-sphere shifts a monstrous $13,000 from general taxpayers to buyers of Volts and other electric cars. The after-tax price of a new $35,000 Volt drops to an attractive $22,000. Check to make sure you are eligible for the whole enchilada.

The Volt is a solid, fun, full range car. From a narrow, personal perspective, it is extremely cost competitive. It can reduce one’s personal carbon production dramatically. It cripples jihadis, as well. Chevy deserves a big round of applause.

Global warming has generated lots of words. Now, taking personal action is easy.


Click HERE for a version of this story published by the Glenwood Post Independent on 17 August 2016.

1At 2.9 miles per Kwh, 11.5c cost per KwH, 12 Kwh per charge, and 35 miles per charge.

2 at 11.5c per kwh and $2.50 gallon for 15,000 miles of driving

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