1 Year Of Chevy Volt Ownership: Reflections

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From one of our friends, Volt Owner, here’s an intitial one-year review of the Chevy Volt along with some interesting reflections regarding other matters (reposted from his blog — My Chevy Volt — with the image added):

On Monday, January 7, 2013, I will have owned a 2012 Chevrolet Volt for one year [editor’s note: this was originally published on Friday, January 4].  It’s been one hell of a year. What started out as a simple car purchase turned out to be a life altering event. Why? It’s a long list.

Image Credit: Chevrolet

The car vastly exceeded my expectations, which were born from a technological car crush way back when the Volt was announced as a concept in 2007. I followed the Volt’s development closely, mainly on gm-volt.com, for several years. My goal was to own a Volt as soon as it was sold in my state. And based upon my expected use cases, I figured I would average around 100 MPG combined with my 70+ miles per day commute, not the 1000+ MPG I would get after a full year of ownership and 20,000 miles. Owning a Volt for one year has removed any doubts about the viability of the electric car movement. While nay sayers will complain about the cost of EVs, at the same time, people like me can show these cars are already a cost effective solution for many — I have no doubts that the electric car industry will follow the same trend that every other piece of technology has gone through during our lifetime:  initially high adoption premiums, whose costs are rapidly diminished through economies of scale, and delivered not only cheaper, but better. You would have to completely ignore history to believe otherwise.

I didn’t realize the influence I could have as an early adopter, helping usher in the electric car age. I participated in several state-wide Plug-in Vehicle Readiness Groups funded through the Department of Energy. That work is helping our entire state get educated on electric vehicles, and promoting sustainable, thoughtful and appropriate policies for their adoption. Not only that, but working with large and powerful stakeholders such as car manufactures, power companies, and legislators helped fill in any knowledge gaps I had about electric cars. In this past year, I learned what it is like to be a true advocate, sacrificing a lot of personal time to help promote electrification. This blog is only a tiny portion of that work. I even battled a conservative radio talk show host, I believe successfully, for about 15 minutes on air.

As a result of owning this car, I pay a lot more attention to where I get my news, and how much I trust what I hear/read/see. If you know the sky is blue, and the news sources that you trust so much tell you the sky is orange, you have a problem.  News sources I once trusted, probably to my own ignorance, such as Fox and Drudge Report, have not only distorted facts about electric cars, specifically the Volt, but they have told lies  In fact, Matt Drudge in my opinion has directly libeled GM and the Volt, and should have been taken to court and sued for millions, as I believe he has negatively affected Volt sales in that amount. If you have read this blog [editor’s note: My Chevy Volt, not CleanTechnica], you know I’ve written a few entries attempting to expose a lot of the lies told by the media about this car. But my distrust of the news now goes way beyond just the electric car, as I am now forced to scrutinize almost everything else I see reported. Thankfully, my critical thinking ability has been reinvigorated. I can’t say the same the same for most Americans.

I have even reevaluated my once strong love of the Republican Party. I still consider myself a Republican. But much of the Republican Party has left me in its extremism, loss of a balanced approach to solving our nation’s complex problems, and a lack of intellectual integrity and honestly. The fact that the Republican Party cannot see the enormous and repeated damage caused by our dependence on crude, foreign or domestic, and sees the only viable solution in expanded drilling is beyond comprehension. Given that this was an election year, it wasn’t difficult to get the candidates’ views on electrification of the transportation sector. Needless to say, electric vehicles are not widely supported by Republican leadership. So I have a difficult time supporting candidates that don’t have a balanced, intelligent, and honest answer to our nations’ energy crisis, and as a result, can’t trust them to make good decisions on other issues.

So, all of this change and self-reflection from a simple car purchase…. Long live electric cars and long live the Volt!

For those that want all the nity gritty details, I’ll be publishing a new post very soon with my details.

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27 thoughts on “1 Year Of Chevy Volt Ownership: Reflections

  • Reading your title I assumed the article was going to cover your experiences owning the Chevy Volt the first year but you quickly drifted into your political beliefs and where you feel you get the best news. Perhaps your next article will stick to the point and provide the readers a better understaning of what it’s like to own a volt. I plan to purchase on this year myself.

    • If you actually visited my blog, you would see that the vast majority of my blog is directly related to costs. If you go to the frontpage, my latest entry covers all the costs. If you take time to go through the blog, you will likely know everything you need to know to purchase the car.

      This entry was purposefully tangential as to all of the weird after effects of owning a Volt, something you will NOT see on many sites.

      • Very disappointed in this blog. It’s all political driven. Where’s the facts and fun stuff? Why would I buy a Volt, as opposed to something else? Besides, if you want change, you do it from grass roots, not politics. Just causes more unnecessary controversy. Again, Volt Driver, you give me nothing of substance.

        • A phrase appropriate in this response, is you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. In this case, in the reply directly above, I point you to my blog, in which the most recent entry describes my electrical use, my gas use, and comparisons to other ICE vehicles for cost and fuel comparisons. I then recompute an EPA label based on my performance (something I have not seen anyone else do), and create visual representations of the gas I didnt use this past year. If you need more technical detail than that, you can view previous blog entries, or view my car details on voltstats. I did not ask this entry to be posted on clean technica, Someone else did. So you need to view my actual blog if you want all the details. Driving the Volt, for me, has had fairly extreme political ramifications. This entry wasn’t meant to change anyone.


          • Thanks for chiming in here and pointing people on to the type of posts they thought they were opening. Fact is: if politics are discussed, people are going to chime in with angry comments. Apparently part of the democratic process.

        • And I’m very disappointed in Republicans who have become anti-science, anti-environment and ,in the case of GM, anti-American manufacturing.

          If that bothers you then do something to help drag your party out of the Dark Ages and into the 21st Century. One can be for low cost government and maximum personal freedom without being for ignorance.

        • Have you actually looked at his other posts? It doesn’t seem like it. He normally focuses on the numbers. Politics are contentious, but if it weren’t for the dishonesty of politicians bashing the Volt, I’m sure this writer wouldn’t mention them (and assume he’d still be supporting the politicians he’s come to feel very disappointed with).

      • After 100,000 miles in your VOLT, you will not have recovered the additional money you paid for your VOLT. The average VOLT driver will NEVER recover the price difference.
        You will never catch up with a “Prius c” at $20,000

        • Well, it depends on what you are comparing the car to. I wouldn’t have purchased a Cruze, or Prius. My previous vehicle was a Mini Cooper, and previous that, a BMW. My wife has a new Honda CRV. My Volt is cheaper to own and operate than my 25k Mini Cooper (in other words, from a monthly budget standpoint, the pay off time is zero. it costs me less every month to drive a volt, than a Mini Cooper). My wife’s 30k CRV cost us about $200 more a month to own than my $40k Volt, after tax subsidies. So, you are only right if I even consider a Prius C competition. It isn’t. The pay back period will be unique to every purchaser when they compare it to other vehicles they were willing to purchase instead.
          So I reject any notion from people who don’t know my finances, who don’t know what I was looking to own, to talk about any payback period.
          Its a ridiculous an immature argument anyway, only muttered by people that have a superficial understanding of the arguments. People buy cars all the time with features and luxurys that don’t have a payback period. How can you pay back buying a BMW over a Kia? You can’t. The electric drive is a LUXURY item. It isn’t just a different transmission. As such, it is priced high. But as I clearly state, this will not be the case for much longer.
          I talk about this in detail in my blog.

          • Furthermore, since the Volt has the HIGHEST customer satisfaction rating of ANY CAR, higher than PORSCHE, its clear that payback period really bothers people that bought the car 😉 If you buy a car, especially one that has a premium price as the Volt, and the vast majority of people are thrilled with it, you are obviously doing something right.

          • Thanks. This apples to oranges comparison is definitely all to common. And people seem to forget what they actually think about when they go to buy a car… or at least what the majority of consumers think about.

  • I bought my 2013 Volt just before driving across Texas for Christmas vacation, Dallas to Amarillo. So I have had almost all driving scenarios in under a month! Cold, snow & ice, Dry, Sunny days in the 80’s, rain. Great car.
    I have to agree with the author: the technology is way cool… but the change in the way you think about the world around us is a huge and under-covered story all by itself.
    The pundits politically motivated attacks on the technology really start to get under your skin right after that. To them it is just copy to read, a paycheck. Perhaps they even believe what they are making up. But to people that are living with the cars – it is kinda personal when they malign (us) whenever the ratings are low.
    I wonder if we could kickstarter.com a lawsuit…

    • I’d bet you could get a good response on kickstarter for that.

      To be honest, many readers don’t like when we get political, but we get political for one reason: to correct insane bias and misinformation. Truthfully, we’d rather avoid politics.

      It’s a shame the way EV spin is repeated and repeated and repeated, and same goes for solar and wind energy. It’s not what we’d like to focus our days on.

      And I really wonder if these illogical attacks are triggering / will trigger enough backlash that it actually hurts these media outlets and politicians to a noticeable degree.

  • I am a hard core republican who remembers both McCain and Romney cheering for all types of energy being developed. I think it is safe to say I believe the Government is right to sponsor research on reasonable ideas and then let the priveate secor take it to market if it is a winning deal. Unfortunately our country is broke and should not be under writing new business. In too many cases this is political payoff and I do not want my tax money to be waisted that way

    • I consider diversification a national security interest, and I FULLY support the government spending what dollars we do and don’t have getting us off nearly 100% dependence on oil as a transportation fuel. In this case, the government is assisting ALL auto manufacturers with incentivizing electric vehicles with a tax subsidy to help create the market and get it over the initial high cost hurdles. Eventually this will create subsitution for consumers, and the billions we will have spent helping to create and foster this technology will be paid back 10 fold.

      Republicans need to stop thinking 1 year ahead, and start to develop a long term strategy that isn’t simply cutting government spending and lowering taxes. While thats all well and good,the government still has a responsibility beyond that.

      • I agree with everything in your post except for the second to last word.
        No way will the payback for getting off oil be only 10 fold. It will be a hugely larger number.

        If we had developed EVs in the 1970s and 1980s we could have avoided three oil wars and saved ourselves $9 trillion dollars. Add in the billion dollars per day we pay for imported oil, year after year after year. Add in the cost of ‘homeland security’.

        Add in the hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

        The movement from oil to electricity will result in a payback that will greatly dwarf the 200x return we’ve achieved by subsidizing solar. There’s likely to be more zeros in front of that x.

    • Countries, like companies, go broke when the aren’t getting enough revenue to cover expenses.

      The 2008 recession smashed our economy, put millions out of work, and along with the Bush tax cuts, killed the government’s tax revenues. It was like a company cutting its product prices and loosing a lot of sales.

      You don’t recover from that by cutting taxes and putting more people out of work.

      You put people to work so that they pay taxes.

      Your tax dollars have been used, since the beginning of America, to assist businesses to grow and expand. We use our tax dollars, day in and day out, to grow business.

      This newly-found right wing hate for business is really stupid. It shows that many of us have little knowledge of the history of America but have bought into some crackpot myths pushed by uneducated radio loudmouths.

  • The 100+ year-old oil industry does not like electric cars, and Republicans are the reps that the industry pays to further their industry at the gov’t level. The EV guys go to Dems. It seems to be just the way it is right now. If you want to see energy innovation, you need to be a Dem, that’s just the real deal right now in America. The Repubs give huge tax-breaks/free-BLM land (owned by the public) to asset stripping co’s, and then claim the EV guys have to show how they can be competitive in a free market. Such hypocrisy it’s maddening Dems aren’t much better, but look, seeing some Repubs buy EV cars and love them and then using that to evaluation their position on other things GOP; that is a feel-good article I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

  • Are there any similar reports from Europe on the Ampera, where the savings are even greater due to the much higher fuel costs?

    • General Motors charges 40% more for the Volt in Europe and that cuts back the savings a bit, as does the higher cost of electricity. But at least the price mark up isn’t as high as on the Leaf. Once the early adopters have paid their pound of flesh the prices will come down.

  • Nice write up. I’m in a similar boat to you: more in line with US conservative on most issues but fairly annoyed at the unfounded way in which the coming electric car revolution is being sneered at and resisted. Would be good to connect with the author even though I’m thousands of miles away in Israel and driving a fully electric Better Place car.

  • Oil dictators love when Americans are against American made and American powered cars…. hard to believe people stand on their side.


  • not sure why you feel conservatives tell lies about electric cars. the root word of conservative is “conserve”. I test drove a Volt today and was very impressed. it puts my Prius to shame on pickup and room. the technology in this car was tremendous. I am sold. it is my next car.

  • I agree with people who talk about apples & oranges. Non-Volt owners just can’t understand what we owners are talking about. Just read the last sentence in his first paragraph.

    “What started out as a simple car purchase turned out to be a life altering event.”

    It’s like someone trying to explain the first time they did a sky dive. You can’t explain it. Those that say we can’t recoup our money over this car or that car are not living in our world.

    Nobody tells a Bugatti owner that he or she will never recoup the difference in price compared to a Ferrari. Who cares? Both owners love their cars. Yet, those apples and oranges don’t seem to bother others.

    The Volt is just a totally different car. Totally. I owned two beautiful Seville’s. I loved those cars. They were my babies. I sold them for 2 times blue book after 15 years of ownership, each. There are a lot of people out there that want to fix up a certain type of car. The less they have to spend, the better. 2 X blue book was pennies compared to the money they would have had to spend. I literally had a list of people who wanted me to call them when I sold them both.

    I wouldn’t trade my Volt for BOTH of those Cadillac’s. Period. The Volt is smoother and quieter by a long shot. The gas savings is just a huge plus.

    I wouldn’t care if I never recouped my money over a Prius. I’ve been in several Prius’s. There is no comparison.

    The Prius owners need to talk to Volt owners who previously owned the Prius. There are a few. It is the number 1 traded in car for the Volt.

  • Your political inclinations have shifted? Understand departure from extremism but an entire paragraph espousing a new political view contained in an auto review?
    Yeah – your credibility is suspect. If you want to convince me of the viability of the Volt, talk numbers like operating and maintenance cost, cost avoidance, etc. I’ll never buy anything based upon an ideological or super-moral opinion.

  • I don’t suspect many Volt owners can provide an ownership story about their Volt without mentioning how certain unethical reporters have maligned this car.
    In my own experience, I purchased my 2012 Volt 25 months ago and at nearly 26,000 miles, I still get that “thrill smile” on my face whenever I take it on a drive.

    I am a long-time Republican. I joined the Army at age 18, volunteered for Vietnam and did all that right-winger stuff – and when I was finally old enough to vote for the first time, I voted for (ouch) Nixon all the way up to the war hero John McCain, but as a “conservative” I read between the lines of the lies about the Volt and looked at the data. (I now call Fox News – Faux News and I am the one who coined this term on GM-Volt. I refuse to let Faux News (or MSNBC or CNN do my thinking for me.)

    What I’ve learned about the Volt, GM “lied” about performance figures. #1. They said most drivers could average mid-30s on a charge. I easily get mid-40s and once just to see how far my Volt could go in a “worse case scenario” I did a tad over 70, but I nearly died by not using the AC and other features in my Volt during my experiment. At nearly 26,000 miles now, I’ve only needed 39 gallons of gasoline. Look me up on VoltStats as “Dusty” – the data doesn’t lie like Neil Cavuto, Rush Limbaugh, Sara Palin, John Stossel and other “journalist jihadists.”

    I admit that age 62, I drive my Volt nearly like a little old lady, but the “fuel” economy is amazing. My father (when I was a kid) talked about NOT going by MPG but MPD (miles per dollar) and he converted his pickup to also run on propane which resulted going further on a buck than it could on gasoline. As I use this formula for my Volt, I am actually able to drive it farther on a bucks worth of electricity, that I was able to drive my car when I was 18 years old when gasoline was 37 cents per gallon (when I was a senior in high school, and remember that now I am a senior citizen, factor-in I drive like a little old lady).

    As I write my comment today, gasoline prices are approaching an all-time high but have not peaked at the 2008 prices. My electric rates (12.5 cents per kilowatt hour) remain very stable, despite what is going on in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC regions, thus I am nearly isolated from the politics of oil.

    As a war veteran, I am repulsed at the fact that our military has to be used as the “cops of the world” to ensure that oil can continue flowing out of the middle east. As a fiscal conservative, I am disappointed in the trillions we have spent (not to mention the blood spilled) concerning recent events of the past decade in the middle east.

    Beyond the politics, my 2012 Volt has been back to the dealership one time, and that was for an oil change and a tire rotation. Next Monday, it goes back again for a bumper-to-bumper customer satisfaction event to check the coolant levels for the battery, install wind buffers on the mirrors and one other tiny “issue” that GM wants to look into. That “issue” was so insignificant, I forgot what it was. I suspect GM will also replace the original 110 volt charger that came with my Volt because the rubber neck on the end of the charger has a fray.

    I’ve owned two Camaros in my youth, a Mustang, a 240-Z and nothing I’ve ever had sticks on the road like my Volt as it runs through the corners and along twisting roads… Nothing I’ve owned before, gets into and out of parking spaces at busy shopping centers as my Volt does. Nothing else I have owned (except for a Harley Davidson) puts as large a smile on my face as my Volt… and never before have I ever purchased a second same-vehicle in a row. On May 16, I ordered a 2015 Volt because my experience with the 2012 has been so favorable. And, I probably will trade-in our 2013 Malibu ECO in on a 2016 Volt when they become available.

    My wife and I own two ranches here in Texas near Abilene. My grandparents owned a ranch near Fort Stockton that was 6 miles square. Oil has been depleted under all three ranches and as I gaze out the windows of our properties where we live, I can see the faint images of the many thousands and thousands of wind turbines that provide a clean American fuel, nearly 24/7 because the winds here are so reliable. And as an “old school Republican” I wonder why the extreme right believes “green” is a four letter word.

    Last, I salute new GM CEO Mary Barra for having the guts to correct so many wrongs that historically have been ignored under the “good-old-boy” leadership of the past. When I see “more bad news for GM” in regard to recalls, (as a former broadcast journalist myself and who taught this subject at a private university) I don’t see the announcements of recalls as “bad news” but rather as “encouraging news” as Barra takes the bull by the horns and provides a fix not only for engineering problems, but as she “fixes” a tainted corporate culture that had been pervasive for a couple of decades.

    GM is now on the right-path… my Volt is on the right road… and as a”right-winger” I wonder why the right-wing media can not figure out why this car is “right” for America. (Could it be because the number two owner of Faux News is a Saudi billionaire and has an agenda against alternative-fueled vehicles?) Go Google on your own and make you own decision and if you want to know the honest truth about Chevrolet Volts, just go ask an owner so you can think “outside the Fox.”

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