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Update on actual 2016 Chevrolet Volt performance


January 25, 2017   By Elizabeth Kress in Green Power

Liz Kress is having a positive ownership experience with her Chevy Volt.

I’ve been driving a Chevrolet Volt for almost a year now, having driven it off the lot on Feb 27, 2016. Here are some of the things I’ve learned since then, starting with an updated “frequently asked questions” from my last blog.

How far can it go on a charge? The distance I get on an electric charge varies with temperature. My electric range is 60 miles during warm months, and 51 miles on a cold day. This really doesn’t change my driving pattern, because the gasoline engine can still cut in to go farther, and my typical daily mileage is 15 to 20 miles around town.

What is the equivalent fuel cost of running on electricity versus gas?  It is costing about 6 cents per mile when I’m running on gas. The Volt gets about 34 mpg on gas with 10 percent ethanol. When I’m running on electricity, it costs about 4 cents per mile. I used an electricity cost of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour for this calculation. This calculation does not discount the cost of electricity charging at work provided by Santee Cooper.

How much does it cost Santee Cooper to allow the Volt to charge all week? If the car charged all five weekdays for nine hours a day, the battery could use 45.5 kWh, which is $5 per week at 11 cents per kWh.

I’ve been able to do some analysis using the data from MyVolt.com, which tracks my electrical and gas mileage, tire inflation and oil life, and walking my dog (not really, just seeing if you are paying attention). For the 10 months so far, I’ve driven 7,704 electric miles at an added cost of $152.72 to my electric bill.  So, with the help of daytime charging provided by Santee Cooper, I’ve saved $170 for the first 10 months and it has cost me 2 cents per mile out of pocket for electric mileage. Note to management:  I’m very appreciative of this perquisite from Santee Cooper, since having a charging station parking space helped with the decision to go electric this time. I also would be willing to pay for daytime charging.

How much has my electric bill gone up due to charging the Volt? I charge overnight if needed, and on the weekends. Using four years of past data to determine my average kWh use per month, I found the bills increased 138 kWh per month and it added $15 per month to the bill.  This number would be larger if I wasn’t able to charge for no cost at work.

Other items of note:

I forgot to rotate my tires, since I usually do that every 5,000 miles with an oil change. I’ve had one oil change in the 10 months (at 5,000 miles on the gas engine), and now need to remember to rotate my tires more often than I go for oil changes.

The gas engine is noisy compared to the electric power. Usually, the way I notice that the car has switched from electric to gas is that I’ll wonder: “What is that noise?” The automakers are talking about adding noise to an electric engine as a safety feature, so that pedestrians are not caught by surprise.

The bottom line for me: I’m extremely happy with my Volt, and look forward to an even better plug-in vehicle in four years when my lease is up. And, yes this electric vehicle driver is still driving her car with one hand on the wheel, and one patting herself on the back.