2011 Chevrolet Volt: Free Parking, Free Juice
February 28, 2011
Last week, I mentioned in a blog that I would be going to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) twice in the 2011 Chevrolet Volt over the weekend. One reader, Defiant2, suggested I use the free parking near Terminal 1. After some online research, I found that there are two free parking areas for EVs but only one has the charging unit we need.
Friday night I drove through driving rain to pick up my father and used the EV parking near Terminal 6. While they had the old style chargers that didn't fit the Volt, it allowed me to park without hunting for an open spot. As I was exiting I told the attendant that EVs got free parking. She laughed pleasantly and said, "Yeah, wouldn't that be cool? That'll be $5, please." It was 1:30 a.m. and I didn't feel like arguing the point. So I paid.
Sunday morning was a different story. I pulled in next to another Volt (the only other one I've seen on the road) and waved the ChargePoint card and hooked up the charger. The only disappointment was that my sister's flight was on time and I only charged for about 20 minutes. This time, the attendant was up on the whole parking perk thing and, after a long delay, flipped the gate up. Luckily, no one was stuck behind me or they would start hating EV drivers (even more than they already do).
In other Volt news, I used the Kill A Watt monitor and found that it takes about 12 kWh to recharge the Volt. At my current rate of .15 per kWh that means it costs $1.80 for enough charge to go about 35 miles. If you compare the Volt to a similar sized car, getting 35 mpg on gas at the Los Angeles average of $3.75 per gallon, that means the Volt is less than half the cost. The difference, of course, is the entry price of the vehicle itself. We paid $43,000 (or $35,500 once the federal tax credit is applied) for the privilege of saving money on gas.
While it is nice to have the "range extender" feature of the Volt, basically a safety net that catches you, it is always disappointing to see the battery icon replaced by the gas pump icon. The whole idea of getting this car is to go electric. And yet the range is pretty limited. On Friday I made it to the airport on electricity but returned on gas. After an overnight charge, I spent all day Saturday running errands electrically. On Sunday, again, I was only half electric. This morning, I made it all the way to work on electricity only to find our chargers are blocked off for construction.
I'm hoping to get the 2011 Nissan Leaf for a week to see if its 100 mile (which in reality could only be 80 miles) fits my driving patterns better.
Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 2,786 miles