News and Views

From my kids accomplishments, to my heretical perspective of the world

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March 30th, 2012 · 18 Comments

After buying my Acura MDX a year and a half ago, I had buyer’s remorse. One comment I made below this post was that I could have bought a Chevy Volt instead, since it looked like I was going to keep my Honda mini-van anyway. Well, I finally did just that. I traded in my Acura for an electric car.

I’ve been following the Volt since it was just a concept car at Chevy, several years ago. It caught my imagination right from the start: A plug-in electric car that had a back-up generator on board that would power the car if the batteries were exhausted. This solves the main kick against electric cars — range anxiety.

There are a few things I’m going to miss from my Acura. It was a very nice car. I will miss:

-Adaptive Cruise Control (I used this all the time, even around town)
-Blind spot detection (I also depended on this a lot)
-5 Adult + 2 Children carrying capacity (But I have my van if I need to carry more people)
-Rear seat air conditioning
-All Wheel Drive (never used after the first six months)
-Crash Mitigation Braking System (which I’m glad I never had to use!)

But here’s what I get with the Volt:
– Cost per mile around 2.5 cents, vs 25 cents in the Acura
– Acceleration (The Volt is the fastest car I have owned from zero to 45)
– Maintenance schedule:
   + Every 7500 miles rotate the tires
   + Every two years change the oil
   + Every 55,000 miles change the engine air filter
   That’s it! Even the brake pads don’t wear, since braking is mostly regenerative.
-Keyless entry and start
-Remote “start” (starts the climate control)
-Smart phone “start”, and charge monitoring
-Designed and built in America
-Just plain cool

According to Consumer Reports, the Volt has the highest owner satisfaction level of any car on the market, with the Porsche 911 running second.

I’ll post some pictures when I get a chance.

Tags: Computers, Tech & Science · Family Updates

18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Richard // Mar 30, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Wow! We looked at them at the Texas State Fair and thought they were a pretty good idea. How do you plan to use it? Just around town? Will you use the van or Gisele’s car for long trips?

  • 2 Daryl // Mar 30, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Mostly around town, though there’s no reason not to go further. But it’s very tempting to try to stay electric as much as possible. Gas mileage is only about 35.

    For long trips we will probably take Gisele’s car or the van, depending on how many people and how much stuff. If there were charging stations outside each restaurant and hotel we might stop at, that could change things!

  • 3 Richard // Mar 30, 2012 at 11:42 am

    From what I read, the engine is usually needed whenever the speed exceeds 35. It seems the engine would be needed most of the time in your area since it is rare you would be going that slow. It also says it needs premium fuel due to the compression ratio. Is that what you are experiencing?

  • 4 Daryl Lafferty // Mar 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    No, that’s not quite right. The engine almost never engages. It can, under unusual demand situations, but most drivers never have it happen. You can drive 100 mph on electricity alone. Many owners report driving thousands of miles on a single tank of gas.

    They recommend premium if it’s going to sit in the tank for months. Apparently it goes stale more slowly than regular. If you are using gas enough to empty the tank periodically, you can use regular.

  • 5 Richard // Mar 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    That’s good news. I see I missed the phrase “when the all electric range is exceeded” in what I was reading.

    Is the non-premium requirement new for 2012? According to the article in Wikipedia, premium is needed because of the compression ratio. Have you read that article? Do you see anything else in it that is not consistent with your experience?

  • 6 Daryl // Mar 30, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    You’re right on the premium fuel. The dealer had told me, and I had heard on forums etc. that regular is OK if you frequently empty the tank. But the manual says in 3 places “Use premium fuel.” Period.

  • 7 Daryl // Mar 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    By the way, my car is the same color as the one in the Wikipedia article. So I guess I don’t have to post a picture.

    Kind of a blueish silver.

  • 8 Dale // Mar 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    The only thing I don’t undwerstand is how the heater works. What do you do if it is below zero and you want to warm it up before the drive?

  • 9 Daryl // Mar 30, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Though I haven’t had to use it yet, I understand that cabin heat is provided in two ways. There is an electric heater that will help if it’s not too cold. If it’s too cold, the engine will start and provide heat.

    In addition, the seats have heaters and Chevy recommends that you use those as much as possible since they warm you up more efficiently.

    Of course, you can crank the heat up all the way if you want. It’s just that most Volt owners are a little fanatical about minimizing their use of gas.

  • 10 Daryl // Mar 30, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Oh, and you asked “before the drive”: You can remotely start the cabin heater either through the key fob (from less than 50 feet away or so), or through your Android or iPhone, from where ever you are. It will start up whatever was running (heat or air) when you shut it off and run for 10 minutes.

  • 11 Donna // Mar 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Cool! I can’t wait to drive it.

    How was the repair record in Consumer Reports? You will quickly get addicted to OnStar and want to keep it when your free year runs out. Then you have a decision to make on whether it’s worth the monthly fee. Brian and Carrie decided it is, and use it quite a lot.

  • 12 Donna // Mar 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    P.S. You know you could easily post a picture or two on Facebook and watch the comments roll in. 😉

  • 13 Daryl // Mar 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Consumer Reports gave it “Much better than average” (a red circle) for reliability.

    They dinged it for a few other things, mainly having to do with comfort and “practicality” (e.g. “seats only four”) and rated it quite a bit lower than a Prius overall.

    However, it has received many “Car of the Year” awards from many sources (see the Wikipedia article linked to above). I think a lot of that comes from the coolness and leading edge technology factor. If it looked and drove exactly the same but had a gas engine, I doubt it would receive any awards, though it would still be a nice car.

  • 14 Don // Mar 30, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    How many times has it caught on fire?

    Just kidding, I think they fixed that issue.

    Very cool car. I’ve thought there needed to be an electric car that actually works for a while now and it looks like the Volt is the start of that.

    You should hop on my bike if you want to experience a quick 0-60 time. 😉

  • 15 Daryl // Mar 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Yeah, the fire thing was no big deal. A Volt was totaled as part of a test, with a full charge in the now ruptured and leaking batteries. After three weeks it burst into flames.

    If I total my Volt, I won’t do that!

    The NHTSA investigated the incident, and concluded “NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles”, and “NHTSA remains unaware of any real-world crashes that have resulted in a battery-related fire involving the Chevy Volt or any other electric vehicle.”

    It’s new technology, and there could well be surprises down the road, but I don’t think there’s anything significant to worry about.

  • 16 Donna // Mar 31, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    NaaNee everyone! I got to see and drive it. Out on the freeway, floored takeoffs at stoplights and waving to all the guys on the street. It was so cool, I am sold. If I didn’t have 8 more years before I plan to trade in my Accord, I’d be down at the Chevy dealer signing on the dotted line for mine.

  • 17 Daryl // Mar 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    I remember everything except the waving at the guys on the street. You must have been discrete!

  • 18 Richard // Apr 1, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I got to drive it last night too. Other than the Starship Enterprise looking dash and the lack of engine noise, it feels and drives like a regular sporty car. It’s a cool concept and a good way to save some money on gas, especially since you are making much of your own electricity with your solar panels.