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?
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?