2016 Chevrolet Volt: Could Reduce the Guilt for Driving To Get the Mail
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on April 22, 2016
There's a scene in the 1991 movie L.A. Story when Steve Martin's character gets in his Chrysler LeBaron to drive to his friend's house. His friend lives two houses away from his. It's played for comedic effect, yet I've seen a neighbor of mine do essentially the same thing to get her mail from the communal mailbox just a few houses away.
Nobody walks in Edmunds.com's hometown of L.A., or so the saying (or song) goes.
If you're that type of person, odds are you're not worried about wasting gas or incurring the tailpipe emissions that occur mostly at cold engine startup. But that said, it's arguably easier to feel less guilty if you're driving a 2016 Chevrolet Volt to pick up your mail from your mailbox or visit your friend a neighborhood away. Revel in your laziness, in fact!
Most of the time in a Volt, you're just powering around on pure electric power. The Volt's gasoline engine/generator only turns on when the battery pack is drained. So if you're just driving a few hundred feet, for example, the experience can be a lot like zipping down the street in a golf cart.
Unlike with a traditional gasoline-powered car, you're not losing all that potential energy due to heat loss (the heat generated by the burning of the gasoline). Nor is the Volt spewing undesirable pollution out its tailpipe under electric power. An engine puts out the majority of its emissions when it's cold because its catalytic converter has not yet warmed up, and those need to be hot to be at their best.
With the Volt (or similar plug-in hybrid or pure electric vehicle), you'd still likely be generating carbon dioxide or other pollution indirectly through whatever means you used to recharge the battery pack. If your house gets its power primarily from a coal-burning power plant, and you recharge your Volt at home, you're effectively powering it from coal. But overall, the efficiencies of electric power are pretty obvious .
I'll still be walking to get my mail and riding my bike to visit neighborhood friends. But with our long-term Volt in my driveway, the temptation to just hop in and drive is certainly there.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 7,275 miles