It’s electric… boogie woogie woogie

The other morning on the way to work, I was listening to a podcast of the Diane Rehm show–my favorite NPR broadcast next to the Prairie Home Companion–and they were talking about the new Chevy Volt. Has anyone heard of this? It really, really sounds cool. They give it some abitrary 230 mile/gallon rating, which really has more to do with a guest-a-mate based on the fact that you could recharge this baby every night and drive up to 40 miles during the day before needing to go to the “gas reserves.” I was pretty impressed. In the typical Diane Rehm fashion, they had people on all sides, not just GM sales/marketing people, talking about this car and I feel I got enough of a perspective that I’m going to look further into this vehicle.

My current car, a 2003 Acura RSX, is nearing 130K miles. I was starting to look around for a new vehicle but not yet committed to going back to having car payments. However, the Volt is due out in November 2010. It won’t go into general release of consumers until 2011 some time. I realize, like all hybrid cars, there will be a long waiting list to purchase one. But since I don’t need a car at this particular moment–mine’s still running well enough–maybe I have the time and patience to wait. So I think I need to do further investigation here. I’d certainly like to be more environmentally-friendly.

My only concern is a lack of trunk space. I have a thing against bike racks. Mainly, I don’t like watching my bike bounce on them from my rear view mirror as I plug along at 60–okay, let’s be real, 80mphon the highway. I’m always afraid it’s going to fall off. And I won’t even get into the fact that I know if I had a roof rack, I’d inevitably end up driving into my garage, forgetting that my bike is still on there, and therefore cause the end to my bike myself. So, anyway, I always put my bike in the trunk. My Acura is a hatchback so there’s plenty of room. I know that these hybrid vehicles tend to have huge batteries that suck up all the space in the back. Previously, I’d been considering getting a Honda Fit for my excessive use of car space for all of my crazy activities (my telescope needs a lot of room in the trunk too).

I also know that the Volt will come with a huge price tag (the GM sales/marketing dude on the Diane Rehm show danced around with the lingo “in the high 30s” and another guy later piped in that it would cost 40K). Which I know is high. And probably doesn’t really outweigh the fact that you’re not buying as much gas or you get a government rebate. I wasn’t thinking of spending that much on a car this time around (since my Acura cost about half that); I wanted to buy in the 12-13K range since vehicles lose their value so fast and I’m a very bad driver that dings my vehicles constantly so that they look like junk when they’re still young.

But maybe I should put my money where my liberal mouth is. I mean, if I’m being gentle to the environment and not using up precious natural resources in the process, then maybe it’s worth the price tag. Although, I do have to ask myself what natural resources are used to create electricity. Am I just trading overuse of one natural resource for another?

Well, it’s something to think about anyway. And I’ve still got time. But I think it’s neat what the human mind can come up with when put under pressure. And you just know that GM is doing this because of the failed economy and their failure in the marketplace. They want to appeal to an audience with a vehicle that Americans might want. Finally. At least they are finally getting the picture that Honda and Toyota already figured out long ago. Even if you aren’t an environmentalist, not spending a lot of money on gas appeals to liberals and conservatives alike.

6 thoughts on “It’s electric… boogie woogie woogie

  1. I have a Honda Fit. It has a ridiculous amount of space for such a tiny car. Did you know you can fit a standing llama in there? That's according to the ad, not my personal experience, but if I had a llama I would totally drive it around town in my Fit.

  2. A plug-in Toyota Prius may finally be available by the time the Volt comes out. It won't be able to travel anywhere near as far on battery power but might be more practical for the money. (I've tried my parents' Prius and it's awesome! Regenerative braking makes you feel like normal brakes are archaic.)

    It looks there might be a few other options too by the time the Volt comes out. Andy pointed me to the Nissan Leaf just the other day!

    Unfortunately it's all-electric (not a hybrid), but it can go 100 miles on a charge, and it has hatchback space that looks maybe similar to the Fit.

  3. Alison – That looks like a powder blue color! Interesting.

    Scott – I dont know if I want something totally electric–I travel a lot. But that's certainly a lot of information to consider. The only thing that I dont like about hybrids is that I can't (currently) get them in stick shift. I would so miss the power and control of driving a stick… :(

  4. Yeah, I don't think most people want a totally electric car. I think actually when the Prius is offered as a plug-in hybrid, they'll include more battery capacity so it should go 20-40 miles on a charge like the Volt.

    I really enjoy manual shifting, and it gets higher mileage, but if the Prius is any indication, manual transmissions may lamentably become a thing of the past. It has a "continuously-variable transmission" which means it's always engaged and never shifts gears! It's designed so that, while there are different gears, they're actually all one piece, which can adjust itself without ever disengaging. This means no energy is lost in the transmission, and also I think it might not wear out as fast because there's no point where two parts are partly slipping against each other.

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