It’s a Volt!

About two months ago I wrote a couple of posts about my dying station wagon, the opportunity to buy a post-mommy car, and my waffling between a

  • Prius (familiar, safe; every single resident of the Bay Area has one; I’ve always owned Toyotas) and a
  • Chevy Volt (cool technology, green, cutting-edge but… AMERICAN??!).

Stork from; composite image by Ilana DeBare

News flash: It’s a Volt!

I spent the afternoon at the Chevy dealership yesterday and, after listening to more Classic Rock than I’ve heard in the past ten years combined, made my downpayment.

It hasn’t come home with me yet. I asked the dealership to hold it until we return from taking Daughter to college. I couldn’t bear the idea of this shiny new car sitting unattended for ten days under the Icky Sap Tree in front of our house.

Long before yesterday, the dare-I-buy-an-American-car question had become a non-issue. I went for a ride with one of my haircutter’s clients who LOVES her Volt. I heard about my neighbor’s friend who LOVES his Volt. Then, after I did my Volt-or-Prius blog post, I got a bunch of comments from complete strangers who don’t even live in the Bay Area but own Volts and LOVE their Volts.

I started to think they should have named this car the Chevy Cult.

In any case, there were enough rave comments flying around that I stopped worrying whether its American-ness meant that a Volt would be a poorly-made, piece-of-junk lemon.

And I love the idea of not having to buy any gas. My daily commute is six miles round-trip. On weekend errands, I do maybe ten miles. So with the Volt able to travel 35 miles on a battery charge, I’ll be able to go for weeks — maybe months — without entering a gas station.

I also want to support the development of better, more environmentally-friendly auto technologies in the U.S. A Prius is good on gas mileage and would have been cheaper, but I see my purchase as a personal vote for support for those people in Detroit who are trying to be forward-thinking. The future of our auto industry depends on this kind of ability to look ahead and innovate.

I sat on the decision for long enough that I got used to it and it was no longer scary. (A tried and true approach of mine for big decisions. Ask Sam how long it took for me to decide to marry him.)

There was also a little shove of impetus last week when Daughter couldn’t get my 17-year-old station wagon to start. Between the missing hubcap, stolen radio, power steering fluid leak, anti-lock brake system trouble, crack in the windshield and now iffy starting, it was pretty much time to get off the dime and buy the new car.

Now I’m actually excited. Over the car itself but also some of the minor features. Like – duh – a working radio. (Welcome back NPR!  Now I can stop singing Mamma Mia out loud to myself while I drive.)

Or like the dashboard electronics that tell you how much air is in the tires. No more rolling around in the dirt of the gas station with a tire gauge!

Now, just a couple of weeks until I pick it up and bring it home. Do midlife transitions get any more obvious than this? Day one: Leave child at college. Day two: Bring home new car. Maybe I should just park the darn thing in her bedroom.

I’ll give it a couple of months and let you know if I become a card-carrying member of the Chevy Cult.


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9 Responses to “It’s a Volt!”

  1. Sam Schuchat Says:

    How long did it take Ilana to decide to marry me? Depends on how you count. We met in December of 1985; after our first date I told my room mates that I had met the girl of my dreams. She was skeptical. We dated for two years, then lived in different cities for a year, then lived together in Sacramento for two years. We were married in 1990, but I believe that I proposed about a year earlier. So it took roughly five years for marriage…and another 15 years after that before we merged our finances!

    • Ilana DeBare Says:

      I have promised to share the Volt 50/50 with Sam. It did not even take 15 seconds, let alone 15 years, of persuasion and waffling. So, I am making progress. :-)

  2. Jim McDonald Says:

    So, how long can you leave gas in the tank before you have to change it? ;)

    • G. Michael Murphy Says:

      Jim, the Volt has two special maintenance modes: EMM and FMM. EMM is Engine Maintenance Mode, that will run the engine (while you are in the car) for a couple of minutes if the engine has not run for 6 weeks. This mode is to lubricate bearings and seals. The FMM, or Fuel Maintenance Mode, will run when the average age of gasoline in the tank is about 1 year. It will burn the gasoline until you add gas, reducing the average age of the gasoline. This is one of the reasons that the Volt requires premium gasoline: it stays stable longer. The tank is also sealed and pressurized which keeps the more volatile components of gasoline from evaporating

  3. Susan Says:

    I’m personally in the Cult of Mini (aka Cult of Cute) but Volt was certainly in the running. Next car!

  4. Onecakebaker Says:

    I am very interested in a Volt. I made it a point to buy American until the Prius came out.
    Would love to buy American again.
    Um, don’t you need to make some sort of arrangements to charge it? Is there an outlet under the Icky Sap Tree?

    • Ilana DeBare Says:

      The Volt can be charged at any standard 120 outlet. It charges faster with a 240 volt outlet, and we happen to have a 240 volt outlet in our garage at which we will have a charging box installed. There is a cost of several hundred dollars for the charging box — exact cost depends on what the electrician has to do.

      In our case, we just store junk in the garage and park our cars in the driveway or under the aforementioned Icky Sap Tree. We’ll probably put the charging box in the garage and run the cord out to the driveway, or maybe install the box on the exterior of the driveway.

      I’m wondering if I should buy one of those cloth car covers for the Icky Sap issue. They always seem kind of dweebie, and I know I will hate having to put it on and take it off every day, but it would probably help preserve the paint job.

  5. mbepic Says:

    My guess, based on how you describe your daily commute, etc. You won’t really need that 240v charge station……..typical overnight c120v charge should suit your needs. That is what I found. If you have electric ‘smart meter’, make sure you take advantage of TOU lower rates.

    • G. Michael Murphy Says:

      if all she does in the car is commute, the 240V charger may not be necessary, but if she wants to come home and then run out and run some errands or go out for the evening, it is nice to be able to add about another 10-12 miles of range for every hour of charge instead of only 3-4/hour (on 120V)

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