Thursday, January 13, 2011

Volt Car FTW

Moving transportation off of crude oil is vital; pick your reason: energy prices, national security, war, military spending, pollution, environmental devastation, CO2... Whether your political views run left or right, down the middle or indifferent, there are reasons to support moving off of gasoline. Tea Party members can support the reduction in this massively government subsidized energy source. Tree Huggers can support the cleaner air. The indifferent can enjoy the decline (or at least slower rise) in gasoline prices as demand is decreased and competition is increased.

Toward the goal of moving away from oil, the Chevrolet Volt is an important car for America for two primary reasons. First, it allows electricity to be the primary fuel without any of the concerns that many people have about pure electric vehicles. The Volt is a plug-in hybrid* that can be "fueled" by electricity or gasoline. If the car has been plugged in, then the Volt uses its battery power for the first 25 to 50 miles (usually about 35 miles) of travel. If you need to drive more and don't want to stop to plug in then the Volt has a gas tank and an on-board gasoline generator that can move you another 340 miles down the road. At that point it operates like any gas car in that you can fill up at any gasoline station and keep on driving. The next time you plug in the car, it goes back to using cheaper, cleaner electricity. It is the best of both worlds.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation most Americans drive less than 30 miles each day. This means that with the Volt, most days will be completely gasoline free. Electricity will be used for commuting and all the in-town short trips, while gasoline will be there when you need it for a road trip to Vegas. If you are unsure of, or cannot use a full-electric car, then a plug-in hybrid with an electric range to cover "most days" is a great way to move the majority of your driving to electrical power and still have the safety net of all those quick-fill gas stations.

The second reason that the Volt is important, specifically to America, is that it is made by an American Company that has a loyal following. If a new technology like this had been introduced by a foreign car company, there are some people that would never consider it and even disparage it. The Volt has taken a couple of knocks from Rush Limbaugh, but Chevy diehards will ignore this completely. As their ads say "Chevy Runs Deep".

Americans know that General Motors is here to stay. As the recent US government bailout and resurrection IPO proved, GM is not going away. They will be here to honor their warranties and service their vehicles. Additionally, potential US customers know that the vehicles are being assembled in an American factory and that their payments are, at least in part, going in to the pockets of American workers.

The Volt reaches out to an audience that has never been interested in a car like the Prius. For example, when NASCAR's Rick Hendrick bought the first publicly available Volt in a charity auction, an entire segment of America was introduced to this car technology as something really cool. Yes, it is different technology than the Chevy that their Dad drove, but it comes from that same company and carries the same bow-tie logo that they trust.

The Volt will be the first opportunity for many people to experience an electric motor bigger than a golf cart. In a Volt you can feel the high-torque electric motor acceleration. The Volt will be the first chance for many to have the "EV Grin." In short, it is fun to drive. Plus it has a lower fuel bill and a quieter ride.

The Volt will also give people a choice of how they fuel their driving. They can plug in, filling up on locally generated electrons, putting money into their local economy. Or they can pump up, knowing that most of that money is going out of the country and some of it is going to regimes that don't like our freedoms or way of life. The point is the Volt gives them a choice.

Conclusions
The Volt is an eloquent machine that Americans can be proud of. When plugged in nightly, the Volt is fueled with enough locally generated electrons for most people's daily driving to be "energy independent." Because the Volt can be run on gasoline too, there is no need to be concerned about range limitations or charging times. Many people that would have ignored "yet-another-foreign-hybrid" will give a Chevy a chance.

References
Volt Specifications
Rick Hendrick Buys a Volt

Rick Hendrick fields 4 Sprint Cup teams:
  • Five time consecutive Sprint Cup Champion in the Lowe's #48 Chevrolet Impala SS driven by Jimmie Johnson.
  • Four Time Sprint Cup champion #24 Jeff Gordon
  • #5 Chevrolet driven by Mark Martin
  • and #88 driven by NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.



* Call it a range extended electric vehicle (REEV) if you'd like.

1 comment:

Christof Demont-Heinrich said...

Patrick,
Your comments link is really tiny and and hard to find :-)

Would like hear more about why you think the Volt appeals to people who have no interest in the Prius; is it only because it's made in America? Or is it also because there are a lot of people -- a lot more people than the experts acknowledge -- who want to come as close as possible to 100 percent kicking oil?

I think it's also the latter -- which, in my view makes all the references to the slow sales of hybrids as an indication of what will happen for EVs/PHEVs questionable.

They're not analogous for exactly this reason. I think the PHEVs have a chance to do way better than HEV precisely because they get the "radicals", on the right and left, almost completely off of oil, while a HEV does nothing of the sort. I know it's anecdotal, but I had little interest in an HEV -- it's still all gasoline driven. But I'm stoked about an EV and a PHEV to replace our 2 gas cars.