2011 Chevy Volt: The Perfect Compromise?
January 28, 2011
On my daily commute I get notoriously poor fuel economy. It's bumper-to-bumper traffic that jumps from 0-40-0 and 0-30-0 and 0-50-0 three times a minute and I've got a heavy foot. Poor fuel economy is the price I pay for driving how I want. I'm okay with that. When I had a Mazda3 I averaged 15 mpg on this commute. I was okay with it.
So when I got into the Volt for my normal commute for the first time, I expected it to be like the Mini E or the Plug-in Prius we had and return roughly 50% of advertised electric range.
.....I was wrong.
The first picture in this series is from my parking spot at home when I booted up (you don't start this time) plugged in my iPhone, turned on the seat heaters and AC (that's just how I roll) and hit the road. The following is the big screen version of my consumption and range before takeoff.
So we're looking at 11.8 miles on this charge and 24 miles of battery life remaining. When I started my trip, battery range was listed at 39 miles. 39 - 11.8 = 27.2 so I was already nearly 3 miles worse than the computer anticipated. ( I had to drive Takahashi home, I was going faster than normal and it wasn't representative of my normal commute.)
Here's the after...
Exactly 8 miles later I was in our office and the battery remaining computer was sitting pretty at 18 miles left on the charge. For those keeping track, I used 7 miles of battery for 8 miles of driving. If I continued on this commute more, I assume the computer would learn my style and it would be even better.
On an every day basis, I drive to work and then I drive home. If I need anything (groceries, etc) I walk. It's one of the nice things about living in the Miracle Mile. 5 days a week I'd be happy as can be with an electric car. I love new tech, I like the torque, I like how quet they are and the EV powertrain suits a bad commute far better than even an automatic-equipped gas engine with stop/start. Trouble is, when the weekend comes, I'm on the road 2-3-400 miles just to get out of the city. This car is the perfect hybrid for that. (As it was designed to be.)
If my apartment building or office had a charger (and I didn't have access to one already) and it was $10K cheaper (Sorry, it doesn't feel or drive like a $40K + car) I'd own one. Plus it's a hatchback, we all know I loves me some hatchback.
Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line @ 1,151 miles
(Notable: Rear room isn't great for anything that isn't a backpack. I never have rear seat passengers so I'm okay with this.)