Why I Bought an Electric Vehicle

I originally published this post in March 2017, while I was still living in Canada. My car recently turned one year old, and I am as happy with it now as the day that I bought it. Lately, a lot of people have asked me about my experience owning a Volt, so, I decided to re-publish this post. I’ve inserted updates along the way in orange. I hope it helps! 

I bought my first car! It’s a 2017 Chevrolet Volt LT and I am very happy with it. I will admit that the Volt was not my first choice – that honour goes to the Tesla Model S 100D – but it was definitely the best choice. Here’s why:

Range

At the time of purchase, my commute was 63 km of highway driving each way. At that time, the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3, had not yet been released for the Canadian market, leaving the Model S as the only true electric vehicle with enough range to meet my need. Being financially prudent, I decided that a pure EV was not an option.

That opened the door for the Volt. The Volt is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, which means that it has an extended electric range in addition to over 500 km of conventional range. In the summer months, April – October, I easily get 70 km of electric range cruising at 120 km/h on the highway. In the city, that range is well over 100 km due to regenerative breaking. In the winter months, November – March, I see about a 20 percent reduction in range compared to the summer months. This completely normal decrease in range has many causes. Not only do powertrains loose efficiency at lower temperatures, but increased use of climate controls and increased rolling friction due to snow and winter tires also play significant roles. What is important to remember is that conventional vehicles also loose efficiency in the winter months, sometimes on the order of 20 to 30 percent as well. Now that I am living in California, I don’t see any drop in range during the winter months.

Charging and Fuel Costs

A full charge on my Volt costs me $1.60 – no I didn’t miss any zeroes! When I was commuting 126 km per day, I spent approximately $100 per month on gas and $40 per month on electricity. In other words, I saved approximately $60 per month on fuel! Now that I no longer have that commute, I haven’t put gas in my car for seven weeks. Now that I am back to work at Tesla, I have my car charged for free! I haven’t paid for fuel, gas or electric, since I went on a road trip to Oregon in August. 

In order to effectively charge my Volt at home I had to hire an electrician to purchase and install a charger. I bought this one. After government incentives, the total purchase and installation cost of the charger was approximately $900. Using this 240V charger I get a full charge in approximately 4 hours. Without it, a full charge takes approximately 13 hours through a typical 120V circuit.

Maintenance

Although maintenance costs didn’t make or break my decision to buy a Volt, it’s interesting to note that I have owned the car for almost seven months, have driven over 17,000 km, and I still haven’t needed any maintenance – not even an oil change. The car has an onboard system that indicates when an oil change is needed and I still have 46% of my oil life! 16 months and over 25,000 km in and I still haven’t needed maintenance. Oh, and I still have 24% of my original oil life.

Price

After taxes, fees and incentives, my Volt cost me just under $34,000. There are a lot of good cars on the market in that price range but the Volt was the best option for me. Its aesthetic isn’t winning any awards but it’s a fairly good-looking car inside and out. It’s comfortable, silent and has a tonne of room in the hatch for storage. As a bonus, it has some cool toys like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the ability to monitor and control the car through the myChevrolet app.

The truth is, most drivers are now able to purchase an electric vehicle with few, if any, changes in behaviour. For those still unable to purchase an EV or unsure whether they want to, the Volt offers the perfect opportunity to get your feet wet. If you do, I’m sure you will very quickly find that you’re ready to take the dive.