Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

There's been a number of negative articles about the Chevy Volt for some reason.
Let me tell you, it's the best car I've ever owned. Here are some of the cool things about it (and please feel free to ask anything you'd like to know because a lot of what I'm writing here hasn't been talked about):
So I've had it 6 months. And in 6 months of normal driving, I have never had to fill the gas tank. It's still using the gas that came with it from the dealership. Something like 2500 miles so far. That's because it gets 40 miles on electric and it's very rare for me to have to drive more than 40 miles at a time.
So here are some of the things about it that make it "worth it" for me (YMMV):

1. It's silent. And I mean silent. Not quiet. Silent. This is a nice thing if you live in a small city and are just cruising around the downtown on a Saturday morning. Open the windows and just relax. It's amazing how much of a difference to the experience that makes.

2. No refueling. This is obvious but I don't know about you guys but I hate having to go and get gas. It's never at a good time.

3. Wonderful in the summer heat. I go to town and I leave the car running 100% of the time when it's hot out. You don't have to keep the key in the car (there's no ignition). So I just have the car run with the air conditioner on. No engine to run, just battery (trivial amount for it) and so I get back to the car, it's cool. I have a dog and this means I can bring my dog with me and not worry about the heat.

4. Remote starting. This is part of the OnStar system but it takes off with the Volt. After a day at work, I turn on the car via my iPhone and it's nice and cool. And because it's silent, no one even knows it's on (and since the car is powered via my home solar array, it's all renewable energy anyway).

5. It emails me. Also part of OnStar but the Volt setup is particularly nice in letting me see how I could be more efficient, status of my oil and tires (my tires need air).

6. The interior. Car magazine editors (to me anyway) seem out of touch with normal people. They focus on things that I don't think most people care about. As a non-enthusiast of cars, I only care about getting from point A to B. So I do care about things like cup holders and how easy it is to plug in my gadgets and how well set up the interior is and the Volt has the best interior of any car I have. It makes my 2011 BMW X5 look primitive by comparison.

7. Insanely good iPhone integration. I've never seen anything come close. Our company fleet has Fords, BMWs, Toyotas and more and none of them come close. The LCD screen lets me control my iPhone (or XM radio) much nicer than anything else I've tried.

8. Touch screen is both touchscreen AND knob/button controlled. Some cars (Jaguar and Toyotas) have touch screens. Others make you use knobs (BMW). The Volt lets you do both and there are times you want one or the other.

9. Great hands free. The blue tooth in it has much better mics than anything else I have. Which is frankly, annoying given how expensive some of the other cars in our company fleet are.

10. Great ergonomics. It's a 1000 little things that come together. The center holder has little holes in it to let you put your USB cables through (my expensive BMW, by contrast, does not). The rear hatchback has been designed so that when you open it, the water that might be on it flows out onto the ground (the Toyota van and BMW X5 flow the water right into the trunk/rear of the vehicle). There are back seat cup holders. And on and on. There's just a bunch of small nice details that make the car fun to drive.

11. It's peppy. Forgot to mention this earlier but the car drives fast. It has spunk.
Could they improve it? Sure. But I think that the first gallon as electric is the wave of the future. I've been shocked at how little gas I've used as a result of having the first gallon equivalent (~35-40 miles) be battery powered instead of electric.

on Aug 30, 2011

Interesting.  Maybe it has a future after all, but most of us don't have our own solar panels, let alone an 'array'.  Then there's the Benjis.

I'd be curious about how many gallons of gas were 'not purchased' & how that stacks up against charge-cost/mile.

on Aug 31, 2011

I'd love to have a Volt, but at a cost to GM of manufacturing of 42k, It's way, WAY out of my price range. My last car was expensive for me, and only cost $15k after taxes. 

I like the way the volt is designed over most other hybrid cars. It's more like a Diesel train in its design than any other hybrid, and that's the exact direction I would have gone given the choice. 

GM, Let me know when you can get it for under 21k...

on Aug 31, 2011

Hey Brad, would you consider showing some video of your car? For some reason i have always found other peoples reviews and videos to be more like movies and paid comments, in this case we have a real life test drive and opinion and some video would be really cool if you would do it. Maybe upload then to youtube so we can see what this car looks like in the real world.

How long does it take to charge the car? Would it be feasible to have a small solar power set up just for the car for those of use who might not be able to afford a full array? It would be interesting to have one's own solar powered recharge station at home if it's worth it.

on May 10, 2012

Just an update: May 10, 2012: I've driven 4,000 miles and used 8 gallons of gas. 

It's a great car for taking the family dog in too.  My dog Bailey goes with me everywhere and because it's an electric vehicle, there's no issue with parking it and leaving it on for extended periods of time (hour +) with the air condition (or heater) running to keep Bailey comfortable inside the whole time (which is preferable to crating her at home when I have to leave for some appointment).