When folk at the bottom of the Greek hill called Mount Olympus heard the thunder and saw the lightning flash, they made up stories about Gods who controlled the weather and other aspects of their environment. They didn’t know any better. Now we’re in the Age of Enlightenment and know some science, we understand thunder and lightning have nothing to do with gods. Well, it’s time to bring the same level of understanding to the question of electric vehicles, specifically the Chevrolet Volt. So let’s start off with the balancing act.
It doesn’t matter whether you personally believe the climate is changing, the federal government has made up its mind to force us to reduce our gas consumption. So not only are there now formal fuel efficiency targets for the motor manufacturers, there are also tax incentives for you to buy electric vehicles. In fact all manufacturer produce and sell what are called compliance vehicles, i.e. they sell electric vehicles even though, in the majority of states, there’s no infrastructure of charging stations where people can get a battery top-up if they are running low.
Chevrolet has had its range-extended Volt on the market for more than three years and it has sold just under 60,000 of them. This may not be very impressive but, in California where there are charging stations, it’s quite common to see them on the road. More would have been sold but for the myths which prevent customers from taking the leap of faith and buying a zero emission vehicle rather than something with a conventional engine.
It runs out of charge after a few miles leaving you stranded
Wrong! If the battery runs out of charge, the engine starts up and powers a generator that can keep you going for another 300 miles. It might be better if Chevrolet stopped calling this a plug-in and admitted it was a hybrid.
The batteries need changing every three years
In fact Chevrolet gives a warranty that varies depending on where you buy your model. The warranty for the batteries claims they will last eight years/100,000 miles, or 10 years/150,000 miles. Since the Volt was launched, there has been fairly consistent monitoring of the batteries and, so far, there’s no evidence their performance has dropped off.
It costs the same to recharge as it does to buy enough gas to fill the tank
The national average is for consumers to pay 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. This means you pay about $2 for a full charge.
If everyone charges their Volt overnight, it will bring down the grid
The charging process is low intensity, i.e. it does not stress the grid. In any event, the demand for electricity is low during the night and so it’s very unlikely the electricity supply will ever be affected.
President Obama subsidizes every Volt with a tax credit
The tax credit which gives you $7,500 for buying a low emission vehicle was actually signed into law by President Bush.