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Publisher Bryan Welch on philosophy, farming and building the world we want.

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The Best-Loved Car in the World

12/17/2012 11:34:43 AM

Tags: fuel efficient car review, electric vehicle review, beautiful and abundant, mother earth news

I’m feeling missionary tendencies these days. I have found love and I want to share it with the world. As I travel around I keep my eyes open for people who share my beliefs, scanning their cars for signs that they are part of my flock. When I see them, I say a silent “Good On Ya!” I pray for the hordes of unenlightened people, still laboring in darkness, driving conventional internal-combustion automobiles.

bryan welch with chevy voltI think everyone should have a Chevy Volt.

I was gratified when, two weeks ago, Consumer Reports announced that the Chevy Volt was the best-loved car in the world among people who drive one – for the second year in a row. I felt gratified, but not surprised. I got my own Volt in August. I have never loved a car like I love this one.

And I have loved some cars.

There was my rusty, shag-carpeted 1969 Toyota Land Cruiser, vessel of my teen-age dreams. Then I had a 1967 Dodge Power Wagon crewcab pickup. Best truck ever.

A decade ago I developed an obsession with Audis. I blush. They weren’t the most reliable cars; they weren’t the most fuel-efficient; they weren’t the most affordable. They just felt so, so good. They’re pretty, too. If you love driving, don’t get in one. Stronger men than me have fallen.

 Then I met the Volt and it won my heart.

And my head.

I’ve had mine for four months. Symmetrically, over the course of 7,760 miles I’ve averaged 77.6 miles per gallon of gasoline.

Personally, I sacrificed nothing to achieve this efficiency. The car and I took long interstate trips. I habitually drive eight miles per hour over the speed limit. Mea Culpa. In town, I set the Volt for “Sport” mode and myself for “Mild Adrenaline.”

In my normal routine of errands and commuting, I use no gasoline at all. When I go a little too far, like my 110-mile round-trip to the airport, I need the gasoline motor’s assistance to recharge the batteries.

Yet in spite of my lack of personal effort, my fuel savings made my lease cheaper than a sub-compact. Look at the math:

The average passenger car sold in the U.S. in 2011 got about 34 miles per gallon on the highway. So if I had driven 7,800 miles in an average car, over the last four months, I would have burned 229 gallons of gasoline. At $3 per gallon, that’s a cost of about $688. Instead, I burned about 100 gallons of gasoline and $10 worth of electricity. So I’m saving $90 a month in fuel costs compared with an average car, or 25 percent of my lease payment. With the tax incentive and the fuel savings, the Volt’s lease now actually costs me about the same as a typical lease on a $20,000 new car, or maybe less.

power wagon pickupAnd the Volt is no $20,000 car.

I think the car’s interior and driving qualities compare favorably with a BMW 3 Series or an Audi A4. It’s beautiful and comfortable. The cabin is snug but well designed. I’m happy in the front seats. I’m 6’2”; 210 pounds. And that’s not a lean, compact 210 pounds, either. I feel great in the Volt, even on an 800-mile drive to see my in-laws.

If you’re not familiar with the Chevy’s hybrid technology, it differs from other hybrid automobiles in that its propulsion system is strictly electric. There are two electric motors that drive the wheels. The gasoline engine under the hood is simply a generator. When the batteries are depleted to about 25 percent of their capacity the gasoline-powered generator replenishes them.

As a result, the Volt gives very little indication that the gas engine has started. It doesn’t change the car’s driving characteristics at all. And that conserves oil life. With about 8,000 miles on my car I’ve only used about 20 percent of the oil life, because most of the time the gas engine isn’t in use. I may go 40,000 miles or more before my first oil change.

Naturally, I was excited to see that other Volt owners feel the same way I do. We’re the happiest new-car owners in the world. And that, apparently, makes some people angry.

I read about the satisfaction survey on the Wall Street Journal’s website. In addition to being one of the world’s best sources for economic and business news, the Journal maintains an editorial preserve for the antediluvian opinions of several species of dinosaur – not extinct, just obsolete.

The skeptics appear to have two fundamental objections to any claims of success regarding the Volt:

  1. Government subsidies played a role in its development.
  2. Volt owners are smug.

Someone called Charleen Larson wrote,

Satisfaction survey? More like a self-satisfaction survey. 

There aren’t enough Volt owners in the entire United States to fill the seats of a small stadium, yet their smug satisfaction at driving an electric car (it isn’t) and having gotten a huge government subsidy is obvious.” 

69 land cruiserAnd a person self-identified as “Skeptic” wrote,

Do you really think someone who bought one of these feel-good machines would admit they made a mistake?” 

“Ellen” took a more proactive approach:

“…the buyers of the Volt think they are ‘saving the planet,’ i.e., they are left-wing nutcases. So what do you expect, they sure as heck aren’t going to say they were wrong, liberals never do. 

Personally I am going to buy a BMW 640 next year, because I can, and I don’t care about the gas mileage or ‘saving the planet’ for a bunch of liberals to live on.” 

Obviously, Ellen is angry about something other than the existence of a nice electric car.

There was one comment from an engineer whom I instinctively wanted to have over to share a bottle of bourbon and a couple of grass-fed burgers. He called himself “EAP,” and here’s what he had to say,

I’m … a right-wing nut, smoke Marlboro’s, despise Priuses with unmitigated passion, but engineering is engineering. The biggest stain on the Volt (which began engineering in 2006) was Obama’s seal of approval in 2008, which has stigmatized it ever since. It’s a passenger vehicle, not a suppository with wheels, so it doesn’t have much panache with the greens. Conservatives are afraid they’ll be labeled greens, so there the Volt sits in limbo — unless you actually do research and learn before running one’s mouth. Or as some here have, pony up for one and discover their uniqueness and pleasure.” 

Well, Amen.  Unlike “Ellen,” I do want the save the planet for a bunch of liberals – and conservatives and reactionary brutes – to live on. But even if I didn’t, I would love that darn car.
 



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Post a comment below.

 

Gulliver
7/19/2014 2:01:29 AM
I completely agree with you Bryan and its nice reading your post. I recently visited your blog and liked to read it. Chevy volt is the finest hybrid cars and not like other hybrid cars. Your car suggestion and selection is good. Electric cars progress rates in the markets are slow and still need to be encouraged for usage of electric vehicles. http://www.stuttgartautoservice.com/

MarkJoe
6/12/2014 10:58:40 AM
If we go for the looks and features available in Chevy Volt it is no doubt one of the finest car we have ever had. But, as I have a BMW and I love this the most so, for me BMW is the best car. But, here we not have the fight to say my car is best or the author's car, the main thing important is the maintenance of the car. Without maintenance neither a BMW nor a Chevy Volt will run properly. So, it is our responsibility to maintain the car in such a way that it will stay away from all issues. As cars are the machinery products, it is obvious that problems will arise. We have to notice those errors and have to proceed likewise. http://performingimports.com/

Jessy
6/4/2014 6:28:13 AM
Auto market is the biggest market and it consist of several types of vehicle with the different types of facilities in it. People loves car as a vehicle to drive because it has all the luxurious facilities and people loves to ride it. I must say that the use of several types of the car are provided with some special types of facilities in it. http://www.europeanmotorcars.net/porsche-service/

Ricky
6/3/2014 5:11:15 AM
Chevy Volt is the best known hybrid vehicle at the least cheapest price than other brands. It is well known for its exciting features and its long lasting performance. It runs with the help of lithium-ion charged batteries which is charged via electricity. http://www.autocarebuzz.com/

Rex
5/15/2014 5:26:59 AM
Chevy Volt is one of the best and cheapest hybrid electric car. This car is in so much demand due its cheap price. The main feature of it is that it runs both on electric and gas. That is you can run the car according to your wish. The lithium-ion battery first allows you to drive gas-free for an EPA-estimated miles.Then the onboard gas-powered generator provides electricity so you can drive your car till your desired distance. http://www.europeanstarmotors.com/bmw-brakes.php

juliandeagreene
4/24/2013 7:00:05 PM

Thanks so much for this article! We drive very little, but any time I do have the desire to take a trip, I'm usually prevented because of the incredible cost. I'm in CA where the price is >$4.00 a gallon. I just did the math, I could go see my grandkids for $120.00 in gas instead of the $460 it would cost me in the car I drive now. Add quality of life to the quality of the vehicle. 


Keith Cossairt
3/25/2013 5:36:43 PM
they have made some cool off road vehicles from salvaged EV1's..... maybe soon the volt will be used for something.

Keith Cossairt
3/25/2013 5:33:17 PM
i think when you wash out the numbers, the volt is a fiasco and does nil to aide the environment. sorry, but i think thats how its workin out, government failure.

Bryan Welch
1/10/2013 10:28:54 AM
Thanks, yourself! Nice to hear from you.

Bryan Welch
1/10/2013 10:28:22 AM
Maybe it's the bad propaganda?

Bryan Welch
1/10/2013 10:27:59 AM
I didn't say it was the best-selling. I said among new car owners, Chevy Volt owners love their cars more than the owners of any other car. Perhaps a little more caution and courtesy before you start calling people liars - or liberal for that matter. I'm a capitalist businessman. I run a business I built up and increased its employee count by a factor of four. You?

Bryan Welch
1/10/2013 10:25:41 AM
Did you even read my article? Surveyed private owners love it more than any other car in the world! And have your friends call me. As to the subsidies, well, we have a government that subsidizes agriculture, Wall Street and props up the biggest-spending defense infrastructure in the world. In that context, maybe it's a fine thing that they've helped preserve one of the nation's largest employers through a recession and that company has developed a truly fine, innovative piece of new technology.

Bryan Welch
1/10/2013 10:23:06 AM
Really nice. But I'd be averaging 40-50 mpg diesel compared with 80 gasoline...

whim
1/6/2013 2:41:43 PM
Passat TDI?

Abbey Bend
1/6/2013 4:32:52 AM
Not really, more of an uniformed schill. Farm subsidies, while I do not feel they serve a good purpose any longer, are certainly not bailouts! An informed rational, person would know that however. Makes one wonder, what else are you so misinformed about??

Abbey Bend
1/6/2013 4:28:51 AM
The only one on this thread that is patronizing is you Byron/ranchocapp! While looking at only one factor of the propulsion causes the false impression of efficiency, when you look at the entire infrastructure, and all of the energy losses in that infrastructure, electric auto are not even close to being efficient in the grand scheme of things. Every time all of the losses in the system are ignored and just the final results in the car are listed, but even those do not come close to orders of magnitude better than a diesel or even many gasoline autos. Show some of the numbers, starting with the electrical generation at the local coal plant, including all the line losses, then the conversion losses at the home recharge system, then the conversion losses from the battery to the motors, etc... Also, could you list the battery replacement cost for us, along with the real world battery life? Would you mind listing the source of the lithium for the batteries and how large of a supply this is for the world? Just because lithium is a relatively common element does not mean it is easy to extract, except for two locations in the world, both extremely arid and small. And when it comes to lease cost, what would it be without the government's giagantic subsidy? That would be the real world cost of ownership. Just how much of the Federal Debt do we get to pay, so you can drive an auto most people in the world can never afford???

Abbey Bend
1/6/2013 4:16:34 AM
By far and away, the best selling car in the world, the Focus!! Have to wonder if the Volt is so wonderful, why does it not sell??? Maybe because most people cannot find a use for a car that performs so poorly, does not live up to the claims made for it, and has so little room to use inside the car!

Abbey Bend
1/6/2013 4:13:05 AM
For a piece of hugely over subsidised, over hyped automobile refuse it sells remarkably poorly! If a $250,000.00 car, selling for in the 40s, costing GM in the 80s to produce, gets anything but good reviews by the owners, then just what would the world be coming too?? This car does not sell, except to the government, most of the production has gone to government agencies. That makes one pause to wonder?! Why has the production line shut down twice because of slow, read almost non-existant sales, if it is such a wonderful auto??? Also, why does GM sell it for a loss of $49 thousand dollars per unit, if it is such a wonderful auto? I would think they would jack the price up to match at least the production cost! But then they really don't have to be concerned with making a real profit, as they know that Obama will bail them out again in a few years when they once again need it. Also, it is interesting how ranchocapp and Bryon are both the same person, look at the avatars, same photo. Curious how the author of the article is the main defender of the stupidity of the article, an article that makes some interesting claims, but not an article that does anything about explaing the lack of sales of this ugly little, expensive car. Oh and by the way, the two Chevy Volt owners I know are desperately looking to get rid of their Volts, but no one will buy them. :( Seems not everyone is in agreement they are wonderful!

Shawn Henry
1/5/2013 9:06:04 PM
I do believe it was just anounced that the FORD FOCUS was just the best selling car in the world for 2012 not the Chevy Volt. Please stop with the liberal lies!

EP Kosmicki
1/4/2013 3:00:39 PM
When I hear anything about the Volt I cannot help think about GM's last electric car, the EV1. Then I have to bring up the 2006 documentary movie "Who Killed the Electric Car" and it's sister 2011 movie "Revenge of the Electric Car." One can only wonder what GM would've been like if only they continued to make and refine the EV1 past the mid-1990's expanding its sales into the rest of the world and US. That would have made the Toyota a Johnny-come-lately when the Prius was introduced in 1997 in Japan. Maybe GM would not have needed a bailout. According to published reports "in March 2009 the outgoing CEO of GM, Rick Wagoner, said the biggest mistake he ever made as chief executive was killing the EV1 car, and failing to direct more resources to electrics and hybrids after such an early lead in this technology." Thank you Bryan Welch for sharing your electrified driving experience.

ranchocapp
1/3/2013 11:58:44 PM
Thanks! By the way, I'm "us" too.

ranchocapp
1/3/2013 11:57:50 PM
Nope. It's awesome. Financially, reliably awesome.

ranchocapp
1/3/2013 11:56:21 PM
Wow, how incredibly patronizing and inaccurate! I've written my lease cost and my fuel costs. Electric propulsion is orders of magnitude more efficient, and therefore causes a tiny fraction of the environmental damage. Batteries are long-lasting and recyclable. But you have, at least, illustrated an example of cognitive dissonance.

t brandt
1/3/2013 11:49:19 PM
Only grains, sugar & milk. And those programs aren't exactly "bailouts," but programs that help stabilize market fluctuations of price, and subsidies to help pay for crop insurance. Meats & veggies have virtually no govt aid. ..Your Chevy Volt cost you about $60 Grand and us taxpayers about $190 Grand. Some bargain. You could at least tell us "Thanks."

t brandt
1/3/2013 11:29:26 PM
Then it should be obvious: buyers of electric vehicles spend an outlandish price for them, suffer the problems of long recharge times and "recharge angst," among other problems, without really doing the environment any good. They insist, due to the quirks of natural human psychology, that they love the car and that they did the right thing in buying them. Their opinions in the surveys are therefore predictable and useless.

Bryan Welch
1/3/2013 1:05:23 PM
No accounting for taste! :-)

Bryan Welch
1/3/2013 1:04:46 PM
I completely understand your reasoning, Rob. But if I stopped buying anything that was produced through a government bailout, then most of the food grown in the U.S. would have to be off the menu, too, right?

Bryan Welch
1/3/2013 1:03:07 PM
I'm familiar with it. Why?

Bryan Welch
1/3/2013 1:01:40 PM
:-)

Ryan Realivasquez
1/3/2013 4:43:33 AM
It could pass every test but the last one. It looks butt ugly to me. I travel the world for work and beyond luxury cars there are two cars that are the best.With the E-Fusion new for 2013, I would buy that over the Volt in a heartbeat. It might be unproven technology (For Ford at least) but at least it looks decent. The Volt is up there with the Aztek in terms of looks.

JOHN & VIRGINIA LEDOUX
12/31/2012 11:09:41 PM
You got to be kidding.

Mark Higley
12/31/2012 5:19:14 PM
I have a Leaf and I love it just as you do your Volt. A Volt passed me on the highway yesterday and made my day.

t brandt
12/27/2012 10:34:06 PM
Look up "Festinger's Theory of Cognitive Dissonance."

Rob Price
12/26/2012 11:14:55 PM
As a fiscal and social conservative (which means that I am not represented by either side of the current crop of nut jobs), I made the choice of a Leaf for two main reasons: 1.) the Leaf has fewer moving parts, which makes it less expensive to operate and 2.) as a 4th car in our household, the 100 mile limitation is easily overcome. I was comparing the Leaf only to the Prius C, which when driven with the brain instead of the heart can easily exceed the 77 mpg that the writer is getting in the Volt. I must admit that the the only reason the Volt was not considered is because of the government bailout of GM. If it had been allowed to go bankrupt and another manufacturer had purchased the company and brought it to the market, than I would have considered it. Because realistically a plug-in hybrid with the range of the Volt, at a moderate instead of luxury price, is the right solution

Bryan Welch
12/26/2012 9:08:48 PM
Amen!

Sustainable2
12/19/2012 5:58:29 PM
I was one of the people that filled in a customer satisfaction survey for my 2012 Volt purchased in May. Superlatives escaped me. On a scale of 1 to 10 I wanted to check the 11 box! Everyone that I take for a test drive THANKS me profusely when they get out. Anyone that criticizes the vehicle has never ridden in one. period.







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