Thursday, November 17, 2011

Living without Electricity

Twice in the last 3 months we've spent a week without electricity, once when hurricane Irine hit in August, and again in Oct when we got a very early snow storm that took down a lot of trees.

Both time is took eight days for JCP&L to restore power, we are the last house on our street serviced by JCP&L, our neighbors get their electricity from PSE&G and were back after only a day or two each time.

During those weeks the Volt preformed great, we didn't plug it in and only got 40mpg but it drove for 500+ miles without electricity when we needed it. We even used the built in DVD player to watch movies, and the USB plug to charge our phones.

The Volt is literally two cars in one, an electric car for great fuel economy and a gas car when needed, if only it could be a electric generator to power our house when the power is out.

Monday, June 20, 2011

240 Volt Charger installed

Last week I got my 240 Volt 16A Voltec charger installed at my new house, it was a fairly painless process, just needed to run wires from one side of the Garage to the other. for the last 2 months I've been using the 110v charger, and for the most  part I found 110v to be all I really needed. With the 110v charger it takes 10 hours to charge the Volt from 0 charge to full, and there were only a few times when this wasnt enough, and I could have used a faster charge.
The Volt's 230v 16A charger takes 4 hours to charge the Volt to full, and while I used it for 3 months at my old house, I'm not convinced its really that useful. Generally I'm either at home for a long time in which case the 10 hours for a 110v charge is good enough, or I'm only home for an hour or two, in which case the 240V 16A charger isnt enough. I hope the next generation Volt will have a 32A charger option, with that the Volt would be fully charged in 2 hours.

So why didnt GM make the Volt compatible with 32A chargers from the start, well for  few reasons, cost a 32amp charger built into the Volt would be more expensive. battery life, GM stated higher speed charging reduces the batteries life expectancy and they want these batteries to last for 8 to 10 years with minimal degridation. Volt's gas engine, the Volt doesnt need electricity to opperate, it can run just as well on gas although it is cheaper to run it on electricity, so fast recharging isnt as nesiccary with the Volt as it would be with an all electric. Drain on the electric grid, Anti-electric car advocates preach that america's electric grid cant handle electric cars, and while thats just false electric cars charging at very high Amperages can put a load on the local nieborhood's power, but the Volt's fairly low power requirements makes this a none issue, a house with an electric heater, dryer or oven draws as much or more electricity then the Volt.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Driving Unplugged the Volt's Gas Anxiety

I sold my house, took about 9 months but finally sold. Unfortunately the there were problems in closing on the House we are buying, and things have been delayed. Until things are straightened out I've been staying at hotels near work, during the week, and my Wife's house on the weekend. Which means little or no opportunity to recharge my car, non of the hotels have offered that option, and I've been told at work that I am not allowed to plugin there.  Luckily, the Volt has a Gasoline engine to backup the batteries, but I've been seeing my Lifetime MPG rating which topped out at 117mpg slowly fall over the last week.

General Motors last year copyrighted the term "Range Anxiety" the fear people have of driving an all electric car, with a limited range, and running out of charge. The idea with the Chevy Volt is you dont need to worry the Gas engine will kick in when the batteries are depleted and keep you going as long as you need.

But I'm suffering from Gas Anxiety, I'm not afraid of running out of electricity, or even gas, I've been afraid to simply use gas, I know that whenever I do my lifetime MPG rating will drop, and I feel the pangs of guilt, I'm burning Oil, dirty smelly oil, that fills our air with pollutants and green house gases. Expensive oil, which will keep getting more expensive, with the money going to big oil company executives and foreign countries, while we fight wars to maintain our oil supply. And limited Oil, which we are burning up now, so there will be none left for our children.

My old Z3 only got 22 mpg, but I didnt worry about driving it, because I had to, and that was all I had to get around in. Even driving the Volt without plugging in, at its absolute worst its still getting Gas mileage much better then most other cars on the road. The new house we are getting has Oil heat, I read that the average US home heated by Oil burns 800 gallons a year, I'd have to drive the Volt 30K miles without ever plugging in to use that much gas. Every item of clothing, books, food, tech toy I buy was transported using Oil. So why do I feel guilty about driving the Volt in Gas mode? Because I know there's an alternative, and in this one little, almost insignificant matter, I can make a choice.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

3000 miles and rolling

Just passed 3000 miles driving my Chevy Volt, and its been great, my daily driving to and from work usually uses no gas at all. when I first got the Volt I was getting about 35 miles to a charge, but now that its warmed up I'm regularly getting 45 miles to a charge, which is more then I need most days.
Onstar sent me a report showing that I've driven 2054 electric miles and 1066 gas miles with a combined 106 mpg.
Going forward my commute is about to increase, I will be selling my house in another week and my Wife and I just bought a new place that is half way in between where we both work, which will mean a daily commute of 80 miles, I'm expecting to use a little over a Gallon of gas a day, with my combined mpg dropping to 75, as I'll be driving all electric to work and all gas home. Someday I hope to convince my Company to install charging stations at work, even if I have to pay a premium of double the going rate for electricity it will be worth it plugging in at work, but I've gotten a lot of resistance to this so far, and until I get a VP or someone high up in the company to push this its just not going to happen.
But lack of charging stations where needed is one of the reasons I went with the Volt over a pure electric, once there are charging stations at work, and the Rockaway Mall (where I meet my friends regularly) I'll probably be looking at a Electric car more seriously

Monday, February 28, 2011

First Fillup

I had my first fillup of Gasoline after two and a half weeks with 835 miles on the Odomiter ( I recieved the car with 13 miles on the Odometer) I filled it up with 7.672 gallons of premium gas for a calculated 107.1 mpg. but according to the trip computer which I reset when I purchased the car I traveled 821.7 miles but used 8.8 gallons for a 92.6 mpg rating, and finally the Volts lifetime rating say I'm at 102 mpg.
no matter how you calculate it the car is using very little gas and thats what I like to see.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One week with the chevy Volt

Its been one week since I bought my Chevy Volt, and its been a great experiance driving it so far I've driven 424 miles, 230 of which were in EV mode and have a lifetime gas milage of 93 mpg. Most days here in NJ have been fairly cold, which reduces the electric rangeto 30-35 miles per charge but yesterday it warmed up to 50 and I was able to drive the whole day (39 miles ) without using any gas. Over the weekend we took two long drives 80-100 which really lowered my mpg, but thats ok because with my old all electric MINI E I wouldnt have even tried the drive, and would have taken a gas car instead. With the Volt I have two cars in one, a short range electric and a longer range gas hybrid.

So what's it like to drive an electric car, in a word smooth, there is no roughness from the engine, no roughness from transmission shifting, and very little roughness from road. Sometimes I can tell when the engine comes on, mainly from a light vibration near my foot rather then any noise, but mostly I only know its on by looking at the Gas/Electric milage screen.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Volt is Home

Well the day I've been waiting for has finally come, the brand new range extended electric vehicle Chevrolet Volt is mine. I purchased the car on Tuesday from Crane Chevrolet, they were a great group there who treated me well and made me feel like a valued customer, not like the guy we can stiff for extra money and we might consent to letting him buy the car from us, which is how I felt at Chevrolet of Jersey City.

Anyway the days, months, years of waiting are finally over, so many delays there were many times when I just wanted to go out and buy a new car any new car, but I didnt, I waited and waited. Looking back I wish I'd kept the MINI E, it was a fun car and I've really missed it, but now I'm back in an electric car again and things couldnt be better.

As you can see I got a Red Volt, but the picture doesnt do justice to just how how beautiful the Red color is, while at the dealership I saw a white one, which was my second choice, it looked nice, but when I saw my Red one I was so so glade I'd waited for a Red Volt. Also from the picture you can see our work parking lot has no shortage of Salt on it, I'm going to be spending a lot of time at the car wash, unlike the MINI E which couldnt have an undercarriage wash.

At Crane Chevrolet, Mike the salesman spent a few hours going over all the features on the Volt, can you say information overload:) It was great, so what all could we talk about for three hours? Well there's charging the batteries of course, and driving modes normal, sport, and mountain, then there is Onstar which is its own course, the infotainment system which will take weeks to truely understand it all, and climate control  with auto this and auto that, oh and GPS navigation. Unfortunately someone forgot to plug my Volt in last night so I only had 16 miles of electric range when we started, and only 10 miles after 3 hours of playing with the systems,  heating ourselves to stay warm, and a short test drive. I also found out later they forgot to pump up the tires, they were all low on pressure.

Finally it was time to drive off on my own, there's nothing more nerve racking then pulling out of a dealers lot in your brand new car, while every other car on the road is zooming by, luckly the Volt has serious power and I had no trouble merging onto busy Rt 46. One of the cool features of Onstar offers is the ability to press a button, and tell a person where you want to go, in my case Nauna's in Montclair, Tom's restraunt that has become the mecka of Electric Driving in Northern New Jersey. They quickly found the address and downloaded it to my Volt's Navigation system. So I followed the Voice navigation, with a couple wrong turns, and ended up at Nauna's  just as the Gas engine kicked in. Unfortunately Tom wasnt in so I headed inot work, way latter then I had originally planned, the Voice navigation, guiding me through a section of New Jersey I'm not at all familiar with.

Eventually I got home and plugged the car into its 240 volt charger, and spent the rest of the evening playing with the infotainment system, and loading CD's onto the hard drive.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ordered a New Volt

On Tuesday Volt #593 arrived in Newark NJ it should be at the Chevrolet of Jersey City tomorrow, but I wont be getting it. The Dealership marked up the price of the Car by $1500 at the last minute, they've been frustrating to deal with and very low on GM's list so they havent recieved any Volts while other Dealerships in NJ have recieved many.

I called arround to a number of dealerships and got a lot of help from my Chevrolet Volt Advisor, he was able to track down which dealerships had cars in production that matched what I was looking for. He even found one Dealership with a Red Volt in their lot ready to sell, only it didnt have heated seats.

In all we found 7 dealerships in my area with Volts available and only charging MSRP. I put a deposit down with Crane Chevrolet for a Red Volt, with black Leather heated seats, dark trim, Parking Assit, and Polished wheels, just like my original order that they already had in production, for MSRP. It is due to be produced the week of 1/17/11 so I should receive it in early February.

So I have another delay, but I feel more comfortable about my order now, I'll be receiving the Volt I really wanted at a price I'm comfortable with (well almost, really wanted a bright Green one like the Green Camaro, but GM isnt painting them that color)

Mostly I want to say a Big Thank You to my Volt Advisor Micheal, he really went the extra mile to find the Volt I wanted.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

May not be getting the car I have been waiting for

Well my car is almost here, but there's a problem. I called the dealership Chevrolet of Jersey City and spoke to my salesperson, I wanted to see if it was possible to complete the  order before the end of the year. He said it was and we started to do the paperwork over the phone.

Then the bombshell, they wanted $1500 over MSRP, if you've been following my interest in the Volt, you'll know I had a very hard time getting them to set  a firm price for the car, finally they gave me a price that was $535 over MSRP and I thought the issue was settled. Now the dealer is saying he doesnt remember giving me that price, I sent them the paper he wrote it on and he said that isnt his  handwritting. anyway I'm upset, and we didnt finish the order before the end of the year meaning it will be spring of 2012 before I get the Federal tax credit back. I also have a deposit with Englewood Chevrolet, as my backup and they told me I could  have first pick of the dealer cars they are getting in in a couple weeks at MSRP, but none of them are  Red with Heated seats (what I most want)

So now I'm stuck, do I buy the car I've been waiting for for the last 6 months, from a dealership I dont trust at a price I dont feel is right. Or do I buy a car that may not be exactly what I want from a the same dealership Lyle used, that seems to have been very upfront with me. Or do I go through the order process again, this time with a good dealership, and get the car around March.

Anyone know of a dealership in the NYC area selling a Red Volt with heated seats, for MSRP?