Sunday, March 6, 2016

I bought less than 40 gallons of gas last year and drove about 8000 miles!

2012 Chevy Volt
I bought my Chevy Volt back in May 2012 and have over 50,000 miles on it now.  I decided to review my records to see how much gas I have used and was pleased to find that in all of 2015 I purchased only 39.28 gallons of gas and drove about 8000 miles.  My average purchase was for 2.7 gallons because Chevy recommends that you only put in one third of a tank in to keep the weight down.  There's no sense in hauling around gallons of gas that you never use.  So my total expenditure for gasoline last year was $108.55.

My Volt uses around $40-45.00 worth of electricity a month, and in the summer that is more than offset by my solar array.  So for 5 months I am literally driving for free on sun power.  In the winter months when we have less sun in Maine my electric bill goes as high as $70, with most of that going to power the car.  In Maine over 30% of our electric supply comes from renewable sources, so the bottom line is that the carbon footprint of my car is negligible.  That is the main reason I own it.

Tor those that may be unfamiliar with the Chevy Volt, it is unique in the industry because it is an electric vehicle with a built-in "range extender".  My model has an electric range of approximately 37 miles under ideal conditions.  When the battery runs down a four-cylinder gas generator kicks in that maintains a battery level allowing the vehicle to continue driving at around 40 miles per gallon.  Since most of my driving is local, I rarely use gas.  The vehicle does turn on the gasoline engine generator in the winter occasionally to help warm battery when temperatures drop below 20°F.

I recently test drove the 2016 model Volt.  The vehicle has been completely redesigned although it it looks rather similar from the outside - with some sexy improvements to the style lines, the interior is quite different.  There are so many changes in its design that it is essentially a different vehicle entirely.  The driving experience was even more sporty than my model because the 0 to 30 acceleration time has been shortened quite a bit, so it literally surges forward and burns rubber if you tromp the accelerator.  This model has a rated 52 mile electric range and gets better gas mileage when in "range extender" mode.  

2016 Chevy Bolt
I am now struggling  with whether or not to upgrade to the new Volt or to go with the brand new all electric Chevy Bolt that will be released towards the end of this year.  This impressive vehicle has a range of over 200 miles per charge and will cost around $30,000 after the $7500 federal tax incentive.  It is amazing that GM has managed to trump Tesla and bring out an affordable electric vehicle well before the much-anticipated Tesla model 3 has been released.  The real issue for me is whether or not I want to deal with the range anxiety issue when taking a long road trip.  I have grown so comfortable with the idea that the Volt offers me a no-worry option of driving as far as I want without any concern that it may be challenging for me to accept the limitations of an electric vehicle range.  I sometimes take trips down to Boston which is around 170 miles away.  While there are more charging stations available in the city, it would be inconvenient to have to take many hours to charge the car up.  Not to mention having to take a cab or public transportation between the charging station and my desired location.

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