Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Electric Car

Family Car

For 6 days, starting last Wednesday, I had the privilege of driving a Chevrolet Volt. A lot has been written about the Volt, a vehicle that to a large extent runs on electricity. But, until recently it has been very difficult to get behind the wheel of one.

First things first: I had the Volt for 6 days. During those six days, I drove 348 miles. This included my regular commute, as well as picking up and dropping off children, local errands, a night out, and so forth. In the course of my driving, I used a total of 1.74 gallons. That is not a misprint. 1.74 gallons. That comes out to exactly 200 miles per gallon. Let's say that again: 200 miles per gallon.

Highlights? Oh, start with the very first song I turned on Sirius/XM Kids Place Live when I picked up Elianna the first day: They Might Be Giants, with Electric Car. I couldn't make that up if I tried.

Then, there was the extreme quiet. No "car noise" while on electricity. This means, among other things, getting full fidelity on the (really nice) stereo system. I got to listen to Wrecking Ball several times.

Of course, it impressed friends. Showing up with a Volt just makes a statement. Everyone wants to see it, and to know, "does it really work?" That it comfortably seats 4 adults, and handles well, goes over as well as it being electric.

Just last week, Presidential candidate New Gingrich said thatyou can't put a Gun Rack in a Volt. While that particular bit of idiocy was being shot down with ease, we found that the Volt easily accommodated 4 sets of skis, poles and boots while also carrying the family.

Maybe best of all has been the kids' reactions. Being dropped off for school from a Volt means you've just arrive in the cool car. And I got to be the cool dad. It's nice to be the cool dad, every once in a while.

Sunday night was Aaron's birthday. With the help of a website from Chargepoint I was able to determine that the city of Milford has multiple electric vehicle charging stations. With a little more research, I found that Milford had installed the charging stations just two months ago. Milford is a nice little town, but in 20 years of Michigan living we've probably only been there 3 times. So I made the decision: We drove to Milford for dinner. We found a nice restaurant, and in the time it took to eat we had enough of a charge to get back.

Was there a down side? Yes: Every time the charge ran out. It's a fine gas car, too. I really really liked it as a gas car. But as an electric car, I was in love. At 200 miles per gallon.


SMB said...

Matt, sounds like you had fun. When accounting for the cost of charging up -- how much does it end up costing per mile driven, and how does that compare with the cost of fueling an equivalently-sized and powered gasoline car?

Matt Orel said...

For the purposes of providing a clearer answer, I'm going to respond to "how much does it end up costing me per mile driven"; that excludes whatever costs are involved wrt infrastructure outside my home (e.g., costs for constructing charging stations or costs borne by Milford Township).

It is also not possible for me to calculate precisely, since I did not meter the home car charging separately; that is, it is part of my overall electric bill.

My estimate is that it cost me, total, between 3 and 4 cents per mile to drive the vehicle.

An equivalent gas-only car would likely have cost between 11 and 14 cents per mile (assuming between 25 and 31 mpg). Gas was around $3.50 at the time, but is higher now, so add another penny or two to the gas-only price-tag.

Over the course of a year, it'd be about $1500-2000 savings at current gas prices.