By David Morgan, Wenatchee, WA
About 18 months ago we bought a 2013 Volt, which had been leased for two years by the original owner. With only 15,000 miles it was practically new, which was important seeing how our other car was 20 years old and probably on its way out. We considered a Leaf, but since we had to assume we might soon have only one car for a family of four, that wasn’t a good option.
We had it home for about two days when we realized we’d never again consider having a car we couldn’t plug in. It came with a 120v charger to use with a regular outlet. Kind of like our cell phones, only a little bigger, and out in the garage. We experienced that about 10 hours and 45 cents later we’d have a full battery, good for 25 to 50 miles, mostly depending on how cold it was outside.
As time went by, it just kept getting better. The car was comfy, responsive, silent, fine in deep snow, and solid as a tank. In the first year we drove 12,000 miles, buying gas exactly 9 times and each time it seemed so long that I’d almost forgotten where the nozzle went. One time my dad was visiting so we gave him the Volt. I needed to take our 5-year-old someplace in our old car, which mostly just sat in the driveway like a relic, which I really consider it to be, like a time machine to a primitive era. It was cold that day and my daughter asked, “What’s that smell; it smells good?” and I said “exhaust fumes”, then I realized that in her mind the Volt is a normal car and since it almost never uses gas, how could she know? Later around Christmas I got stuck in traffic during a snowstorm. I looked around at the beautiful flakes falling in the dark, and all the not so beautiful plumes of pollution rising into sky from every car except the one I was driving. Did I mention that at its lowest point the car’s lifetime mpg, covering 31,000 miles, was 189? No, you did not misread that. Most of the time it’s over 200 and when you get to 250 it just reads “250+”. How cool is that?
Enough bragging. Part of the reason is there are so many “Level 2” chargers (240v) set up in public places in the area. So it’s not difficult in to drive well over 50 miles in a day, charging while you’re parked, never using a drop of gas. Many of these are free to use, installed by Plug-in NCW. In order to maximize our electric-only potential, recently we decided to buy our own and have it installed in the garage. Then we’d have the ability to get a full charge in less than 4 hours, meaning realistic potential to log 100+ battery-only miles in the same day. We bought a charger called Juicebox, made in CA for $475, delivered to our door; a model we chose because we can bring it with us and plug it into RV-type outlets when we’re on the road. We hired Salcido to install it for $325 (they did a great job, and no sales tax by the way). Next year when we do our taxes we’ll get 30% of this back.
Speaking of back, by now I’m sure you get the idea that in my opinion there’s no going back(wards). Part of me is amazed to see so many “normal” cars still rolling around, which is a bummer when I think about what it was like last summer when it was nearly 110 degrees several times in Wenatchee and it seemed like everything was on fire. But hey, that just makes it easier for me to find an unoccupied place to plug in wherever I go. Not! Seriously, I’d really be happy to share. Make the switch. If you’re curious enough to be reading this in the first place it’s a safe bet once you do you’ll look back and think what a no-brainer…..