2012 01 23 - John with the Chevy Volt

2012 01 23 - John with the Chevy Volt

The company where I work, Technical Communications Corp, recently purchased a company car. The forward thinking CEO recognizes that the future of transportation is electric. That is a renewable resource. Electric cars are still in their infancy, but there are a few models available. The decision was to buy a Chevy Volt.

Employees are able to sign up on a calendar to use the Volt to drive to and from work. During the day the car is available for company transportaion as required.

I hadn't signed up for the Volt, but things worked out very nicely for me. On Monday, Jan 16th, I took my Toyota Corolla to the body shop to get the right front fender repaired. A tree branch had struck the fender on October 29th, 2011, during that freak snowstorm that knocked power out for 4 days. Since the Toyota was in the shop I was driving our backup car, the old 1995 Saturn SL.

Driving into work on Friday, Jan 20th, I noticed that the windshield wipers seemed to be running slowly. Also the washer fluid didn't squirt out very high on the windshield. As I got onto Route 2 East I noticed that nothing electrical in the car was working. The speedometer quit working as did the tachometer. The radio was dead and the car was starting to overheat. What was going on?

I made it to work because the ambient temperature was about 19 degrees, which was cold enough to keep the car from boiling over. I then called AAA and had the Saturn towed to Hanson's Automotive in Nashua. I arranged with Heather to give me a ride home.

In the afternoon an email came out notifying everyone that the Volt had just become available if anyone wanted to use it. I called Bob Berg to see if the Volt was still available and it was, so I was able to get it until Wednesday, Jan 25th. The timing was perfect. We picked the Toyota up from the body shop Wednesday morning.

It was interesting driving the Volt. A fully charged battery has about 30 to 35 mile range. My commute is exactly 28 miles door to door. The battery takes almost 12 hours to charge when plugged into 120 VAC. It only takes 4 hours when plugged into 240 VAC. At work there is a charging station with a dedicated parking spot and cable. The picture below shows the charging cord plugged into the Volt. The range also drops if the temperature is cold. Battery efficiency drops off. The gas engine kicks in when it gets colder just to warm up the battery. If the battery runs down all the way then the gas engine takes over and runs a generator that drives the wheels.

The car handles very nicely and is quite responsive. The pillars are all very thick and reduce visibility. The built in satellite radio is nice. At $45,000 it is more money than I would spend on a car.
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