I love these screens on the Chevy Volt's dashboard. This one shows the ratio of electric miles verses gas miles between charges. These are helpful as you hone your driving patterns to get the most efficient mix of electric and gas powered driving. As gas prices go up, obviously you want to fuel up at charging stations. If you are plugging in at home it's best to be equipped with a PV system or else you will be refueling with expensive HECO gas generated electricity. I was impressed with the overall performance of the Volt. I can't compare it to other EVs but relative to my Acura TSX, the Volt had pretty good pick up. Something I did not expect from an electric car. As far as the ride goes, the Volt was not as smooth as my TSX. Let's face it, I am spoiled. One of the things you need to consider is whether you are dependent on the air conditioner. In the summer the AC is a must, especially in afternoon rush hour traffic. Keep in mind this will sap your electric charge. The AC will in consume 16% of the power from the battery. With the AC off the climate electrical consumption was 3%. I drove the car around with the AC off most of the time. For recharging, one of the dashboard screens gives you an estimate of how long it will take to charge up from a 120V vs. 240V outlet. Generally speaking if you plug it in at home you will need about 8-10 hours to fully recharge. A full charge was taking about 4 hours from the Better Place charging station at Topa Tower. Overall it was a fun experience driving the Chevy Volt. I must thank Chris Colquitt from GM and especially Shauna Goya from Comm Pac for allowing me to park at Topa Tower, easily accessing the charging station. That made all the difference. An electric vehicle is definitely in my future. It will just depend on price point and relative ease of recharging. Now I know what to expect.
Driving around town during Thanksgiving will easily take you beyond the 44 mile range of the Volt's battery pack. When driving an electric car the first thing you will notice is how quiet it is. There is no revving of the engine and the car moves as silent as the wind. So I was curious what it would sound like once the engine kicked in. Let me tell you, it was pretty uneventful going from battery to gas generator. I would not have noticed had it not been for the change in the power flow graphic. As soon as the gas generator engages, the engine appears in the graphic. Up until then it was just the graphic of the battery. In the Volt, the gas generator is not an engine per se. It is not connected to the transmission. Instead the gas generator is used to generate electricity to move the car. It does not fully recharge the battery although I did notice a small charge in the battery when idling. The gas generator works in tandem with the battery and in this mode gas efficiency seems better than a purely gas powered car. Once I pulled into the garage, I did notice the gas generator running. It made me think about the next time I would be able to charge up the battery to save my gas. Day 5 - Overall performance.
The main thought that crossed my mind was to come up with a plan to get recharged each day. When Chris Colquitt (GM) gave me the overview yesterday, we were in the parking garage of Topa Tower. The building conveniently provides 4 stalls with EV charging stations from Better Place. The good thing is that Better Place is providing free charging until the end of December 2012. The bad thing was only 2 EV stations were working. To hedge my bets I left home early and claimed a stall at 6am in the morning. I usually go for a run first thing in the morning but I did not want to take a chance that the two working stalls would be occupied. Lucky I did that since stall 3 & 4 were still out of order. I went for my run after parking at Topa Tower. Lesson of the day, you become very conscious of the battery charge. Fully charged you get 44 miles. As soon as you go beyond 44 miles the gas generator kicks in. Psychologically the system makes you want to minimize the use of gasoline as much as possible. It's as if that tank is held as a precious reserve. When I picked up the Chevy Volt at the end of the day it appeared the Better Place stalls 3&4 were repaired and operational. The BP promotion is a timely one and if you can take advantage of it, you should. To find EV charging stations near you, including the BP ones you go to this site built by local app developers, Mavens LLC. Day 3: Optimal driving patterns
Thanks to Shauna Goya of Communications Pacific and Chris Colquitt from GM for the one week test drive of the Chevy Volt. I've not only wanted to drive an electric vehicle (EV) but wanted to understand the subtle changes in driving routine when filling up with electricity. The following posts will be my experience over the course of the week driving the Volt to and from work. For starters, Chris gives me the 10 minute data dump on electric car operations and how to get the most efficient use out of the electric storage system. I thought when I upgraded from my Acura Integra (1996) to the TSX (2010) I went through a quantum leap in technology. Going to an EV is another quantum leap. The Volt has an electric battery that covers about 44 miles on a full charge. After that a gasoline engine charges the battery extending the vehicle another 300 miles. Starting the car is with a push of a button and everything is controlled from the display screen. I drive out of the parking lot at about 2 miles per hour as I try to adjust the AC and find the radio. Once I hit the road it's like regular driving. By the time I get to Pearl City the electric gauge has 20 miles on it, enough to get back to town. Tomorrow, I need to figure out my logistics for getting a full electric charge.