This is part 1 of a two part series covering my time with a Chevy Volt. Behind the movement: the electric/gas Chevy Volt: initial thoughts.
I've never been in an electric car, never have I experienced it, nor understood the culture around it, but now that I've driven a Chevy Volt- I love it, and everything about it.
Forgive the giddiness and drool here, but please understand, having driven perhaps hundreds of thousands of miles so far in my life, not a single one of them was using electricity as a power source. This was a first for me, as it likely would be many Americans.
As Chevy dropped the vehicle off, I admit, at first, I immediately became very anxious about the thought of using electricity or recharging the car. I was freaking out- even downloaded an app to my iPhone so I would know where to recharge- but HA- that's the joke! I remembered after I came out of my heightened mindset (similar to a child on Christmas) that I don't even need to worry about charging right off- because the Volt does utilize a gas engine! WHEW. Seriously. While I love that the Volt has a stunning range that it utilizes electric only, let's be frank- without a gas backup, it's a deal killer for those who don't live close to a charger.
Thanks to living in Chicago, I have dozens of charging stations available. Unfortunately, none were nearby my neighborhood, but plenty of them were in parking garages (which is not the place I think of if my batteries are dead). I found that in the Chicago metro area there are even already a few fast chargers that can recharge the Volt in 30 or so minutes, but they were positioned off a toll road, meaning I'd have to pay to get to them, which is what I found with most situations- parking garage chargers- you name it- it seems like most chargers are in areas where I can't get them without paying.
One minor piece of information I found out is that some places do charge for electricity to recharge- and it is NOT cheap. 350Green had positioned three chargers in the basement of Whole Foods in Schaumburg, IL. One was a 480V DC fast charger. It was out of order. Two were 240V DC EV chargers. These charge twice as fast as a household outlet. However, as I found, it isn't cheap- at all. Apparently this company has found it adequate to charge $2/hr for electricity. For the four hours it'd take to get 35 miles of range, that'd cost $8, or the equivalent of $4.375/gallon of gasoline- pretty darn ridiculous. But because it was my first electric charge, I paid for it- I needed to try the experience. It was fine, I left the car and went shopping at Woodfield Mall for a few hours, came back, and paid $4.77 for electricity that got me not even 20 miles. Now keep in mind- the Volt did just fine, I'm upset at the company who's charging scandalous amounts of money. Sure you can find places for free, or just charge at home every night.
All in all, it was a great experience. My passenger and I commented on how great the interior of the Volt was- smooth, modern, artsy- in a good way. The same paint that graced the metal of the exterior also was found in the interior- nice touches.
The amount of attention the Volt received was impressive as well. As I stopped at a store which offered hybrid parking in front, I heard a person exclaim "is that a Volt!?" to which brought him and his friend to a conversation. The Volt is still a pretty rare car.
Now on to the driving- this was pretty crazy- driving a car with no sound. I can see how this could be dangerous for those who aren't paying attention, or perhaps deaf, and it's pretty wild to drive. In either case, it takes some getting used to driving a stealthy car. Now you can sneak up behind people in the cover of darkness and honk! What a delight.
We'll cover Part 2: Driving the Volt on Sunday, so stay tuned!