The Chevy Volt Is Not For Apartment Dwellers

Last week, I was given a free test drive of the 2013 Chevy Volt through a promotion with Klout. I am influential enough on Twitter for the subject “blogging,” that they gave me a car to test drive for 48 hours. Anytime I can get a nice car to use I’m gonna jump on that, so obviously I’ve been pumped about this opportunity for the past 2 months.

For those that don’t know, the Chevy Volt is the car that is electric and gets unlimited miles per gallon until the battery runs out, at which points it switches over to gas. It’s not hybrid (and they make a point of that), but even on gas, it gets something like 37 MPG (and takes only premium fuel).

Before I go any further, guess how many miles the Chevy Volt can drive on a full battery? Ready for the answer?

41 miles.

Eh. That’s good enough to go to and from work each day, but keep in mind that I had it delivered to me, so by the time I pushed the start button (no key needed!), there were only 6 miles left on the battery charge. I used that pretty quickly, and then it switched over to gas.

I really liked the idea of having a 100% electric vehicle, so only having a few minutes on battery was a little bit of a bummer. But I could just charge it, right?

Now guess how long the Chevy Volt needs to be plugged in to fully charge?

About 8 hours in a 120V outlet.

For me that was the dealbreaker. One nice thing is that you can plug it into various charging stations around the city, and they even have an app to look up locations, but during my 2 day stay I had to decide whether I should go out of my way to charge the car for 2 hours and get a ride from and then back to the station, or just go with the gas power.

I decided against leaving it for 2 hours, it was too inconvenient.

Had I been able to charge the car at home, it would have been sweet. But living in an apartment, I can’t do that. And when you get a free car delivered to you, going out of the way just to charge it seems sort of ridiculous. Especially when even at 240V, I would have gotten only 20 miles of gas-free driving. Too much work for too little reward.

The car itself really cool, it has a million features and drives really well. Even on gas it is really quiet and feels like it’s off when it’s stopped. Another perk in California is that you can drive it in carpool lanes. You need a sticker so I couldn’t take advantage of it, but it’s something to be aware of.

If you live in a house with a garage and work within 10-15 miles of your house, the Chevy Volt is probably awesome for you. But if you live in an apartment, it’s sort of useless. Why didn’t GM also provide me a home for 48 hours so I could get the true Chevy Volt experience?

11 Responses to The Chevy Volt Is Not For Apartment Dwellers

  1. That’s pretty awesome – getting to use a car and review it after a couple of days. Interesting review.

  2. Emily @ evolvingPF says:

    If you have a plugin option at your workplace that you can leave while you’re there it would be worth it! I’ve seen a bunch of plugin stations on our campus. Totally not going to buy a Volt, though, even though we live like 1 mile from work. It’s sweet that you got to try one out!

  3. John says:

    A great review. Thanks! I was looking into buying another car in a few years and Volt was one of the cars my wife and I were looking into.

  4. I agree with you – the 2 hours isn’t worth it at all.

  5. Joe Morgan says:

    I first heard about the Volt in 2007 ( I think) and I was interested until I heard the range was only 40 miles. I’ve been trying to figure out who could actually use this kind of car ever since!

    40 miles would get me to work. Then, I ‘d have to hope I was at work for the 8 hours required to charge it (don’t go to lunch!), then drive home and charge it again over night. Not much time for driving…

    I’m not alone in my commuting distance either..

    In short, it seems most useful to those living in or very near urban centers, but then cities typically have prohibitive laws. fees. etc.. to discourage vehicle ownership and encourage mass transit. So what’s the point?

    Then you factor in the damn thing is about $40,000?

    No thanks.

    • Noah says:

      @Joe Morgan,

      I agree, the $40K pricetag is the killer here. That is most likely the reason it only sold less than 10K units last year. It really only becomes a bargain if gas skyrockets, which it could, but it most likely won’t even top $5/gallon next year.

  6. It would work well for me but only if I drove it to work and back. It stinks that it only uses premium fuel though… I thought it was supposed to save money on gas!

  7. Evan says:

    “If you live in a house with a garage and work within 10-15 miles of your house, the Chevy Volt is probably awesome for you”

    I work 4 miles and I would never ever consider the vehicle. At 40K – I’ll get myself a pretty hooked up C class, 3 Series or G Infiniti.

    The car should have been priced 10K less OR put a different emblem on it lol

  8. Mary Beth Elderton says:

    I’m also in an apartment and have tried to think of how I could use an electric car–can’t see how it would work for me. Two hours at a charging station? I think these stations are going to need to be developed around grocery stores/Walmart/Malls etc. and that companies will need to provide charging in their parking lots for workers in order for electric cars to become fully usable.

  9. Don says:

    For the sales price (even though I love that it’s cheap to drive), I’ll pass :)

  10. When gas powered automobiles started coming around, I’m sure those were pretty inconvenient (not like there was a gas station on every corner right off the bat) and expensive compared to the alternatives. The Volt is hopefully the first step of many into making electric car driving practical, affordable and efficient. Nobody is expecting everybody out there to jump on the bandwagon, but I think focusing on the progress is just as important as focusing on the deficiencies

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