Chevrolet Volt

It’s about time

We were headed downtown this morning with the whole family loaded up in our LEAF. As we made our way into Balboa Park on State Route 163 South (one of the prettiest sections of freeway in the country, in our opinion) we happened to see another red LEAF, also headed south. As that LEAF slowed to exit the freeway, we were in the number two lane. We waved at the LEAF driver as we passed her and looked up into the rear view mirror to see the front end of a Volt appear in the number one lane.

The silver Volt happened to have just the driver in it, and my wife commented that it really is a nice looking car as I pointed it out to her. The thought came back to me that even though my wife liked the style of the Volt, it wouldn’t work for us as we wouldn’t be able to get all five of us inside. We have mentioned the lack of a fifth seat before as a limiting factor of the Volt, but having the carload today with the two cars side-by-side on the freeway really hammered that point home.

The Volt is the first widely available plug-in hybrid. The LEAF is 100% electric. Although the two cars are significantly different, many consumers unfamiliar with cars don’t really know what the differences are. We use our tool analogy often when talking about the LEAF, but it remains apropos. More on that in a moment.

When someone asks a negative question about the LEAF, rather than become defensive about it, we just rephrase the question in the positive.

Questioner – “Will it go over 100 miles?” Our response – “We don’t need it to.” We follow up with something like this – “If you need greater daily distance, you might want to wait a few years before looking into electric cars. Maybe an economical four-cylinder would work better for you now.”

Q – “How much did your electricity bill go up?” A – “Perhaps a better question would be asking how much our gasoline bill went down.” And then provide a comparison of the distance traveled in your LEAF versus whatever your old car was for the same dollar amount. Even if it was a Toyota Prius, you will travel significantly further for each dollar spent.

If you need a hammer, you don’t buy a saw. A car is a tool. Get the right one for the job.

Finally, although LEAF and Volt differ significantly in their motive power, they are both moving us in the right direction. To see our three cars on the freeway together like that showed that there is market demand for ever more fuel efficient vehicles that will ultimately grow as people keep asking questions and getting good information, positively framed,  in return.


  1. I made a calculation yesterday that really put things in perspective. According to Carwings I’m averaging 5.0 miles/Kwh. To keep the calculations simple I worked from regular gas at $4/gallon, and electricity at 10c/Kwh. Therefore I can buy 40 Kwh of electricity for the price of 1 gallon of gas, and that 40Kwh will move me 200 miles. Thusly from a strictly dollar perspective I’m getting 200MPG!
    Granted gas is a little below $4 today, but electricity is a little under 10 cents, and I’m not trying for a highly precise formula.

    1. Thanks for the input steve. We’re just trying to call out to readers that there is a significant energy cost reduction when moving from gasoline to electric. When non-EV owners ask a question, we see it as a possible learning experience for them. One caveat to new readers – if steve is getting 100 miles per 20 kilowatt hours, his driving is likely on the conservative side, without a significant amount of high-speed freeway driving. Just as with a gasoline powered car, high-speed freeway driving will reduce fuel efficiency in an EV.

      1. Ernie,
        You are correct that I don’t do a lot of high speed driving, however my commute does include some freeway driving, about 8 miles each way, and there is a 1200 foot summit to climb which features 3 miles of 6% grade on the Westbound trip (eastbound its a longer more gentle grade).

        1. Thanks for the additional input on the commute. We prefer to be on the conservative side with our range estimates. As promoters of EV capabilities, the last thing that we want to do is over-promise and under-deliver.

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