Why choose Chevy Volt over plug-in electrics, hybrids or economy cars?

June 13th, 2012 Posted in Getting Started with Volt

Chevy VoltOk, good question. Why the Chevy Volt and not one of the competitors be they hybrid, full plug-in electric or just a good old fashioned economy car that gets great gas mileage and costs a lot less…

We did a lot of talking and thinking on this very question and here is how we wound up jumping on the Chevy Volt bandwagon. Let’s consider them one at a time. But first I should qualify our thinking by being clear, we were looking to move from our older and not-so-efficient sedan to something more economical to run. We aren’t looking for a muscle car, heavy hauler or seating for eight. Also, it is no small factor that we wanted to set a good example for our young boys with thinking green and caring for the planet we live on.

So then, why not the Nissan Leaf? It’s about as “green” as you could hope to get and costs less too!
Nissan Leaf
Good points, it does cost less and being a full electric vehicle you won’t produce any emissions at all, EVER. But there was one big problem with the Leaf that we just could not get past. Limited range. In our opinion, that is one very big hurdle we just can’t jump. What happens, my wife (who will be commuting with our new Volt) asks, if my day changes and I find I have to do more driving than expected? Simple. Your are out of luck if it is more than the Leaf’s estimated 100 mile range. Short of finding a charging station and waiting for at least an hour or more for some charge, if you run to the end of the Leaf’s range you are stuck, where ever you are. Not ok in our book so it’s a no to the Leaf.

Ok, to be honest there was one other reason we couldn’t buy the Leaf. It’s just plain ugly. Sorry if you like the look of that car but we just couldn’t swallow it.

So what about all the hybrid cars you could choose from? There are lots of them to choose from now and many really great options for sure. Some of the more highly rated include the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata or even the new Toyota Camry.

For us, this comparison wasn’t as much by the numbers as it was from a perspective of setting a strong example for my two young boys (6 & 8yrs at this time). It was a couple of years back when my older son was 6yrs old that he asked one day, “Daddy, I don’t get why everyone doesn’t have electric cars? Then there would be no pollution to hurt the earth.” After a failed attempt at explaining the challenges – technological, political, economic and otherwise – he wasn’t satisfied and my sense was that his perspective was darned good. Both of my boys have repeatedly returned to the subject on many occasions, suggesting that the next time we bought a car it really should be electric.

So, back to why not a hybrid… Simply put, hybrids still use gasoline and do so pretty consistently. With the Volt the first 35-40 miles out of the garage (on a fresh charge) are ALL electric, NO gas burned. With a hybrid, you can get the car rolling on electric, but as soon as you push the accelerator a bit that gas engine kicks in burning fuel and creating emissions. For us, that was a distinction that mattered. In the Volt, my wife can make her 22 mile commute on pure electric power, no emissions. If she charges during the day she’ll make the return trip on pure electric power as well. Without a mid-day charge, she might burn a tiny bit of gas to get home or maybe not. Depends on how she drives really.

Last but not least, why not an inexpensive economy car? Another good question and one we considered carefully as well. I believe the car most commonly compared to the Volt for the sake of this particular argument is the Chevy Cruze. At one half the cost of a Chevy Volt, the argument is not without merit. In most scenarios I’ve seen laid out for actual ownership costs comparing the two, it generally takes about 5 years of ownership for the reduced fuel costs of the Volt to catch up to the difference in cost with the Cruze. For us, that is an easy likelihood to see play out since we have a history of owning cars for an extended time before moving on. Most of the vehicles we’ve owned have been in our garage until they are 8-10 years old.

Another consideration in that vein though is how this car (the Volt) is a different animal. It is a very technology driven vehicle. Will it be like computers, digital cameras, iPods, cell phones etc? In two years time the technology has moved ahead to the point you don’t want to hold onto it? That is a risk we are taking but a small one I think. The Volt is capable of software upgrades just like other digital devices. We’re betting we will be just fine through the 8 year battery warranty with this Volt. Time will tell…

So to sum up, for us it came down to the following points that sold us on the Chevy Volt.

• Volt is NOT range limited
• Volt uses its electric power first
• Volt sets a strong “green” example
• Federal and State rebates change the equation
• Volt is fun to drive
• Volt looks great too!

Now, if we can manage to get our electricity to come from renewable sources it will be even better!



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