I recently had the opportunity to test drive the Chevy Volt as part of Drive for Innovation, a partnership between UBM Electronics, the parent company of Design News, and Avnet Express. During the test drive, EE Times' editorial director, Brian Fuller, asked what it would take for me personally to buy a Volt. I talk about that in the video below.
Source: General Motors.
It's a good question. The short answer, though, is pretty simple: money. The Volt's MSRP is $40,280, which is high, at least for my pocketbook. If you subtract the $7,500 tax credit, it comes to $32,780, which is still about $7,000 more than the base price of a Nissan Leaf.
For me, though, the money issue is also inextricably tied to another matter: all-electric range. At first glance, that might seem like an odd statement, since the Volt has a gasoline backup and an overall range (electric and gasoline) of more than 340 miles. But, right now, I own two cars with more than 150,000 miles on them.
My annual mileage clocks in at well over 30,000 per year, with a high percentage of my trips exceeding the Volt's 40-mile all-electric range. For me, the $12,000 penalty imposed by the Volt's 16kWh battery doesn't make sense, since so much of my time is spent well beyond the all-electric range. In much of my driving, I'd be lugging around a depleted, 400-pound battery that would actually cut my fuel efficiency.
That driving profile is unusual, of course. But Fuller's question raises some valid issues: If you buy an electric, does it become your first car or your second? If it's a second car, is the price within your means? Finally, what driver profiles are well-suited to the Volt's capabilities?
If you want to learn more about the Volt, we recommend you go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow Fuller's cross-country Volt journey. On his trip, sponsored by Avnet Express, Fuller is taking the fire engine red Volt to innovation hubs across America, interviewing engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and students as he blogs his way across the country.
In the meantime, let us know what you think: What would it take to make you buy a Volt?
Well done. I have neglected to do the calculations, but this shows pretty clearly that if we continue using fossil fuels for electrical energy production, which we will, then electric cars at this point in time are not a good idea.
I am content to let the "early adapters' find the reliability and serviceability issues with the Volt. As a retired engineer with experience in reliability and design of electronics, including the initial launch of vehicle electronic engine control systems, I am impressed with the complexity of the battery management system, the batteries themselves [especially the high voltages involved], and the radically new drivetrains on this vehicle. How many of you have had a "Service Engine Soon" light come on in your existing car?? Ask me again in 5+ years!
Okay you guys win. Disregard my initial post (GMStoffa 8/10/11 11:21pm). I bought a Volt because: 1.) It is damn quiet and has a great Bose sound system. 2.) It looks sharp. 3.) It is extremely comfortable 4.) It has FANTASTIC acceleration. (It also gets great mileage, supports hybrid technology to move away from dependency on total combustion engines cars, and has a greater range than any pure electric car on the market.... but I don't want to go through those arguments all over again). You are all right - the Volt is expensive. But hey, there is a wide variety of cars on the market: you can spend a little, like with a Kia, or go high end with a Lexus, Hummer, or Vette. Buy whatever floats your boat. For me it suits my taste and needs: It is a quiet, comfortable, good looking car that is fun to drive (with minimal trips to the gas station).
I don't really have to do much math here to say that I would never buy a Volt.
My 8 year old Pontiac Vibe has 208,000 miles on it, averages 30-32 MPG and cost a little under $16000. If gas is $4 a gallon and we use 30 MPG for a Vibe/Matrix or something similar, then assuming the electricity is free, it would still be almost five years before the Volt started to pay itself back. The cost to borrow an additional $16,000 to buy the Volt is just a slap in the face on top of that.
Driving a larger, more comfortable car with a 400 mile range and $16000 in the bank sounds like a better idea to me.
By the way, my tax dollars subsidizing (through Federal Tax Credit) someone else's bad math is a slap in my face even though I made the right choice.
I had the Chevy Volt for a week and drove it long distance from Boston into the Catskill Mountains. You can read my Driving Impressions report (and find out if I would buy one) on Automotive Designline, the UBM site for automotive electronics design engineers.
All this high mileage sounds really great, but I haven't heard anyone say how much their electricity bill has gone up from the charging. Any Total Cost of ownership analysis would have to include that. Curious to know what it is.
The Volt is simply the finest automobile on Planet Earth.
It is Beautiful, solid, elegant and quick. Finer than a CTS.
Besides being the first automobile to be fully electric with an extended range it allows you to decide what kind of mileage you want to have.
The lead engineer tells me that he lives 50 miles from work so he charges his at home at night, drives to work, charges it at work and drives home 5 days a week. 0 mileage there, On the weekends he and his wife takes the kids up North to the Cottage and then dives back home to repeant the sequence.
His average mileage is 100 MPG.
Now if he wasn't taking that long trip on the weekends you tell me what kind of mileage could it be extended to? Far, far more than 100MPG... 300, 500? Big numbers are now conceivable.
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