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How is the Chevy Volt akin to the Basketball Legend Michael Jordan?

I was reading an article from CNNMoney that was saying the new Chevy Volt didn’t rank as one of the top ten “greenest” cars in America.  Now based on all that I have learned about the Volt so far, I found this very hard to believe.  The Volt is primarily an electric car that can travel for about 40 miles on just the power produced from the lithium ion battery pack following a 10 hour overnight charge from a regular 110V outlet (or 4 hours from an installed Voltec 240V charger).

I just don’t understand why the CNNMoney article and other articles are disrespecting the Volt.  I live about 6-7 miles from work and if I had a Volt, I could drop off my kids at school and daycare and then head to work each day.  My wife picks the kids up in the evening so normally I just drive straight home from work, but I would be able to leave work and maybe make a quick shopping detour to Walmart or Menards before heading home and my entire daily commute would be around 20 miles.  Even though I usually get home at around 8:20 pm, I would still be able to plug my car in and it would be fully charged and ready with a regular wall charger by the time I left for work the next morning.  For weekend trips, I would probably have to tap into the Volt’s gas tank a little, but the majority of my driving would be propelled by the electric current produced from the battery pack. 

Of course, I’d still have to pay for the electricity.  Just how much?  Well here is an account of one Volt owner’s calculations: “I have a Volt. On a good day, driving conservatively it gets about 44 miles on a full battery charge. It takes 9.6kw to charge the car when battery is at zero. My cost of electricity is 16c p/kwh on my time of use plan (TOU) for 10 hrs on 110V. That means it costs me 9.6kw x 16c = or about $1.54 to go 44 miles. That is 3.5c per mile (CPM) Now at $4 per gallon and a 50MPG average on the Prius you are paying 8c per mile. At $5 gas 10c per mile………..If gas goes to $8 well You get the idea…..it cost Prius drivers 2-3 times as much per mile!”

If the Volt’s fuel costs are significantly lower than the Prius and most of the other cars on the list, then why are some critics and Volt foes disrespecting the Volt so much.  What gives?  Why does the ACEEE’s (American Council for and Energy-Efficient Economy) study, referred to by the CNNMoney article, rank the Volt 12th?

Here is the complete list from the ACEEE:

1. Honda Civic GX (natural gas version) – Mileage: 24 city, 36 hwy, per gallon-equivalent

2. Nissan Leaf (all electric) – Mileage: 106 city, 92 hwy, per gallon equivalent

3. Smart ForTwo (my wife thinks this car is cute and it reminds her of a baby’s shoe) – Mileage: 106 city, 92 hwy, per gallon equivalent

4. Toyota Prius – Mileage: 51 city, 48 hwy

5. Honda Civic Hybrid – Mileage: 40 city, 43 hwy

6. Honda Insight Hybrid – Mileage: 40 city, 43 hwy (that’s a far cry from the mileage that the original version of the Insight achieved which was around 60 mpg’s overall.)


7. Ford Fiesta SFE – Mileage: 29 city, 40 hwy

8. Chevy Cruze ECO – Mileage: 51 city, 48 hwy

9. Hyundai Elantra – Mileage: 29 city, 40 hwy

10. Mini Cooper – Mileage: 29 city, 37 hwy

11. Toyota Yaris –Mileage: 29 city, 36 hwy

12. Chevrolet Volt – Mileage: 35 city, 40 hwy (when driving on gasoline)

I’m sure the the engineers at GM who designed the Chevy Cruze are thrilled that the Cruze ranks above the Volt in the ACEEE’s findings.  And working for Runde Auto Group, which sells both Chevrolet and Ford vehicles,  it was nice to hear that the Chevy Cruze ECO ranks 8th and the Ford Fiesta SFE ranks 7th in terms of the greenest vehicles in America.

But are you serious???  12th for the Volt?   I imagine it would have dropped even further down the list if the ACEEE would have included my son’s bike, skateboard, scooter, and roller skates in their study.

Honestly, I don’t think there is a vehicle on the ACEEE’s list (with the possible exception of the electric Nissan Leaf) that would provide me with more MPG’s and a lower annual fuel cost than the Volt.  And as for emissions, I’d have to say that the only time “my ficticious Volt” would produce any emissions would be on the weekend … if we went out of town.

And I really have to question how the Civic GX received top billing as the greenest car in America.  I made a call to a nearby Honda dealer and they informed me that I wouldn’t be able to get a Civic GX from them.  I also went to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website to see where the nearest filling station was for a car that runs on natural gas … Moline, IL.   I’m in the right smack dab in the middle of America and I would have to travel about 75 miles each time I wanted to fill up “America’s greenest car”.  I’m not sure what the ACEEE was thinking with that choice.   It actually gets my vote as the most impractical car on their list.

To everyone out there who wants to casually “dis” the Volt, please keep in mind that it wasn’t designed for everyone and for all types of driving.  Granted, it can be used by anyone.  But it was a car that was designed for a specific type of driver – the daily commuter who travels around 20 to 40 miles a day.

And here’s why I liken the Volt to Michael Jordan:  He was obviously meant to play basketball.  That’s what he was “built for” and when he played, he was the best ever.  When he decided to switch sports for a year and a half, the world discovered that he could also play baseball.  But when he played baseball, he was just average.  It wasn’t the thing that he was “built for”.

If the Volt is used in accord with the the primary intentions of the vehicle’s engineers, it works great  … it’s prodigious.  The car wasn’t really meant to be driven 300 miles a day.  However I think it’s marvelous that the folks at GM covered all their bases and constructed the Volt with a gas tank that would enable drivers to take it 400 or 500 miles a day if they needed to.

In fact, I don’t think the Volt is just a stepping stone on the path to more fuel-efficient vehicle, I think it’s versitlity places it as an important cornerstore in grand scheme of things.

12th? … C’mon.

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