Recently we decided to join the community of electric car owners here on Vancouver Island as I have a crazy daily commute and we were hoping to save some money on gas. And in doing so, we were also looking forward to further reducing our carbon footprint. This decision led to a lot of online research to try and find the best vehicle that would suit our needs. We finally settled on a brand new 2017 Chevrolet Volt, and based on all the online reviews and the official Chevrolet website on the car we had high expectations. We didn’t expect what we would find once we actually started driving the car.
We are now fully in love with this car. Everywhere we go we are asked questions by the curious who are wondering what it really is like to make such a bold decision in a world where internal combustion engines (ICE based cars) are still the dominant form of transportation. This led us to decide to create a series of blog posts as we go along with our car talking about real-world use cases we experience, and we’re going to tag this series “EVangelist“. Make no mistake, this is now a way of life for us, and one we would love to see other people embrace as global warming looms on the horizon as a real problem for us, our children, and our grandchildren. Only through the act of change can we make a real difference in the world.
With both Mrs. Toad and I leading extremely busy lives taking on multiple professional roles in the contemporary world, restrictions to range in terms of a vehicle is something that we cannot live with. We frequently find ourselves traveling hundreds and hundreds of kilometers each way for photography assignments, and my daily commute into the big city of Victoria on Vancouver Island sees me driving well over 100 kilometers each and every day. To frame this, we bought this car just over 12 weeks ago and it already has 11,000 kilometers on the odometer.
My daily commute sees me traveling up and over a very treacherous mountain on Vancouver Island to get to the city. We decided to move to the Cowichan Valley over 10 years ago in an effort to embrace rural living so we could have peace and solitude during our time away from work. This decision has been one of the best ones we’ve made, however it does entail a pretty crazy commute every day.
Based on the research we did, along with a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to posted efficiency studies, we knew that crossing over into the electric car realm would make a difference in our monthly bottom-line. We didn’t realize how big a difference that would ultimately be.
So far the car has met and/or exceeded our expectations on every level possible. I used to burn about $17-$20 a day in gas to get to and from work in our Ford Escape SUV we had. That was an awesome vehicle by every definition of the term, but I had to visit the gas station every 2nd or 3rd day, to a tune of roughly $55 to fill it up. With our new Chevrolet Volt, we are seeing results in the region of 0.1L/100kms to 1.2L/100kms, completely dependent on how many errands I need to run beyond just the regular commute. This translates to roughly $0.25 to $1.50 based on our gas prices at the time of this writing. This works out to roughly at least a $17/day savings in gas alone. That works out to over $340/month. Think about that factoid for a moment! Also, if your commute is ~90 kilometers a day or less, there’s a fabulous chance that you may never have to visit a gas station again! Amazing.
How does the Volt achieve this, you may very well ask? Well, it’s a true electric car with an onboard Range Extender gas-powered generator that allows you to drive the first ~100 kilometers of your drive in pure electric mode, after which the generator kicks in to supply power to the electric drive engine. Powering the electric engine once the battery is depleted, a 1.5L engine is a far more efficient use of energy when applied to supplying electricity than it would be if it powered the wheels directly, as with conventional gas engines. This little trick of engineering is something that has amazed me since the day I saw the first rendition of the Chevrolet Volt Prototype hit the stage in 2007. Since then I have followed the progress of this car extensively, with a deep desire to own one.
With all that being said, a car is much more than just a platform in which to move around in. It’s also a personal statement, and in many ways in today’s world it’s also really a highly complex computer on wheels. With the general release of the 2nd generation Chevrolet Volt we see today in 2016, this car has become a highly stylized vehicle that is striking to look at, full of incredible modern technology for safety and entertainment, with the side benefit of being super efficient in terms of energy usage.
My personal penchant for black cars was realized when we were locating our new Volt. The team at Wheaton GM Victoria worked hard to find us the perfect car, and they really did. In the picture above, if you look closely you can see the gold metallic fleck embedded in the paint that really makes the black paint-job stand out. This car is gorgeous, make no mistake about it.
No attention to detail was overlooked by the team at Chevrolet as they designed this 2nd generation car. If you will notice, the side markers in the photograph above are outlined by a Chevrolet logo, a little Easter egg detail that really helps this car stand out. It’s all these little touches, and there are a bazillion of them when you look for them, that turn this into a car that is far more than just a car; it’s a true delight to drive under any circumstance.
To put a fine point on this notion, the car is FULL of technology and electronics that are second to none in today’s contemporary world. Full bluetooth integration, support for iOS Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, safety features galore, multiple modes for driving and managing your energy usage, just to name a few… these items form the proverbial tip of the iceberg as to what you will find here. We’ll dive more into those features in future posts, so please do stay tuned for that.
This car is considered by many to be a “disruptive technology” with the potential, along with other electric cars such as Tesla, the Nissan Leaf, etc., to redirect energy consumption from fossil fuels to a more environmentally friendly and much cheaper source of electricity. The very nature of disruptive technologies finds that overall the majority of people don’t really notice the advent of the technology until it becomes fully integrated into our society. Think of the Apple iPhone in this context; at one time the notion of a small computer in your pocket that is perpetually connected to the internet was just a dream of techies worldwide. Today almost everyone has one. To many, this transition feels like it occurred overnight. We are expecting the same in the realm of electric cars. And why shouldn’t we?
Top Questions About Electric Cars
As we make our way around Vancouver Island in our Chevrolet Volt, we are constantly asked by people a series of similar questions. This is really exciting for us, there is a true interest in this technology, and people are wondering what it’s like to make the transition in the real-world. Here is a short list of the most common questions we hear:
- How much does the car cost? – this is a great question, for in today’s economic climate everyone is concerned about monthly budgets, and to most a car is primarily a means of transportation. Our new Chevrolet Volt has roughly the exact same monthly payment we had for our 2014 Ford Escape SUV. When the savings in gas is considered, we are in a net position of being roughly $350/month ahead of where we were before making the move.
- How much does it cost to recharge? – so far we have not noticed any real change to our electricity bill. This will become more evident as the months progress as we are just transitioning out of using our electric heat in the house as summer is now here. From what we’ve noticed so far, it is negligible, and well worth it.
- How long does it take to recharge, and what kind of plug do you need? – we can refill our battery overnight easily in 12 hours. The onboard computer allows you to program your charging schedule at home to take advantage of off-peak hours, and this would be particularly helpful for those with a Level 2 240V charging station which would further reduce recharge times to roughly ~4 hours or so. At our house we use a standard 120V plug and the car is ready to go every morning when we need it.
- Does the car have any power when you go to pass someone on the highway? – oh boy, does it ever!!! With a rated electric engine at SAE Net Horsepower @ RPM of 149 and SAE Net Torque @ RPM of 294 this car can certainly fly to get the groceries just fine! It’s a real blast to drive as there is no lag from when you put your foot into the throttle and the car finds it’s peak torque output.
These are just a handful of the most common questions we are asked, please feel free to share any of your questions in our comments section below, we’d be happy to answer them all.
Also, for those who are interested in electric cars as a whole, we love listening to the “Electric Car Superstar” on podcast. Marcial Santiago hosts this regular show with up-to-date articles and commentary as to what is happening in the world of electric cars as a whole. His podcasts are informative and fun, and help us to stay on top of all the exciting news in this space. There is a lot going on these days with electric cars and we expect to see more and more of them on our roads in the future.
At this time we’d like to thank Marcial for coining the phrase “Half Car Half Amazing” in the context of the Chevrolet Volt. We could not agree with him more.
Well friends, I think this is a long enough post for today on this topic! Thanks for popping by The Hollow here to read this article, please feel free to leave us any comments or questions you may have below as we love to hear from all our visitors!! Happy electric driving, everyone!