I’d always thought a pure EV, most likely a Nissan LEAF, would be our first plug-in vehicle.
But I have to admit, the Chevy Volt, which is a so-called extended-range EV that allows you to drive up to 40 miles or more in pure electric mode before kicking into gas mode, has been growing on me.
A deep desire to throw off the yoke of oil completely and being able to say you know what to Big Oil while also running a car 100 percent on home-generated solar electricity have pointed me toward a pure EV.
Drooling over Tesla S Model
And, if we could afford the top-of-the-line Tesla Model S, with its range of up to 300 miles or more, that’s absolutely the route I would go.
But we can’t afford to plunk down $80,000 on the 85 kWh version of the Model S (and we never will be able to).
Even if we got the pure EV – in fact, we don’t have a plug-in car of any kind right now for admittedly highly unusual reasons – we wouldn’t be flipping the bird at Big Oil 100 percent. We’re a two car household, and, even with, say a LEAF running 100 percent on sunshine, we’d still have a gas clunker we’d need to fill up with stinky, smelly gasoline.
It’s not practical for us to drive 100 percent electric, given our family’s driving needs, and the fairly frequent (probably once or twice a month) trips which are 100 to 200 miles each.
So, if we can’t give up oil for our personal transportation needs 100 percent, why not consider a Volt?
More car than electric?
Putting aside the totally asinine “It’s more car than electric” ad line that, frankly, turns me, as a long-time EV advocate, off in a big way, the Volt could do something a LEAF could not: Help make us a one-car household while still allowing us to power probably 80 percent of our miles with our home solar system and not have to worry at all about any range issues.
It wouldn’t be convenient to have just one car – my wife and I work both work full time jobs in different places and our kids go to a school that’s nine miles away from our home. But it would be do-able, with some adjustment (mostly driving the wife to work and picking her up on the way to, and from, my job, which is very close to the kids’ school).
Finally, there’s the pure EV thing and my deep-seated desire to flip the bird at Big Oil 100 percent – I can’t tell you how big of an issue this is for me. I truly hate Big Oil and all that it does, and stands for.
Based on what I’ve been reading and hearing – and I read a lot of news about plug-ins – the Volt seems to be a considerably better quality car than the LEAF. And it doesn’t suffer from the U-G-L-Y problem that the LEAF does (sorry, beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but if way more people behold the LEAF as ugly than as beautiful, Nissan’s got a problem).
On the other hand, you can’t really credibly ad-wrap a Volt with the claim that it’s powered 100-percent by clean sunshine.
There’s also the space issue: We’re a family of four, and the Volt would be very tight for many things, for instance, camping trips to the Colorado Mountains.
Volt maintenance costs
And there’s the long-term ownership cost and reliability issue: The Volt is clearly a much more complicated piece of automotive machinery with many more different moving parts, etc. that will have to be maintained and regularly serviced than a pure EV such as a LEAF. I have to believe that the Volt’s long-term maintenance costs [we hold on to cars for decades] are going to be higher than for a pure EV.
Finally, there’s the pure EV thing and my deep-seated desire to flip the bird at Big Oil 100 percent – I can’t tell you how big of an issue this is for me. I truly hate Big Oil and all that it does, and stands for (Take that, SUV driver I saw recently with an “I Love Big Oil” bumper sticker!).
And I will continue to absolutely detest Big Oil until – and I don’t think this will ever happen – a Big Oil company stands up and says, ‘Enough is enough. The planet is dying. We’re going to invest 90 percent of our profits into developing renewable energy technologies.”
Now, if Chevy would push the Volt’s pure EV range beyond the official 38 miles to, say, 50, or maybe even 55 miles, then I’d almost certainly be on board with a Volt, as it would allow us to drive pretty darn close to 100 percent of our commuter, local Denver miles on solar electric, while still allowing us to make it into the mountains and back for our camping and hiking trips. All of this with just one mostly solar-charged and mostly, though not completely, electric car.
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- One household, three solar-charged EVs
- Solar-charged in tropical Hawaii
- Is veteran un-American for buying Volt?
Web blogs by current solar-charged drivers
-- Peder Norby's Electric BMW ActiveE Blog
-- Darell Dickey's EV Nut Web Site
-- Doug Korthof's Live Oil Free Pages
-- The Solar-Charged Electric Car Page
-- Solar Power and Electric Cars
-- Sun Powered EVs
-- Ecogeeco Web Site