“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” - Often attributed to Plato but likely from Ian McLaren (pseudonym of Reverend John Watson)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Chevy Volt - is it for me?

I've already posted about the Chevy Volt and the mileage claims made for it. But the time is coming to replace the Land Rover LR3 HSE that I've been driving since 2006. The Land Rover is owned by my Company and, in the current economic environment, there's little excuse for being provided with such a vehicle. I've mentioned my partner and the BMW X5 he drove, also owned by our Company. He's purchased a Toyota Prius (NOT company owned).

So, I'm wondering what to drive. The choices really seem to be the Nissan Leaf, the Volt, and the Prius. I'm leaning against the Leaf because it's range is about 100 miles on a charge and, though my commute is about 62.5 miles round trip, I sometimes need to go to meetings from the office or go to places other than the office from home and there's no infrastructure to charge the Leaf "on the road."

The Prius is all well and good but, well.... my partner got one. So, what about the Volt? It has much to recommend it for my application - though it's only estimated to get 40 miles on a full charge prior to using the internal combustion engine (ICE) to supply energy to the electric motor and my one-way trip to work is about 30 miles, I can charge it at the office and use the ICE only in the circumstances described in the previous paragraph. So, decision made, right?

Not so fast. This vehicle has an MSRP of $41,000 for the base model. A tax credit (not sure how the money is actually collected) of "up to" $7,500 is available bringing the price after the credit down to $33,500. This is a high price for what is really a four passenger commuter car. So how does the energy situation compare to my current vehicle and to others I might consider?

In order to estimate potential savings some assumptions will need to be made regarding how often and for how far the ICE in the Volt would be used. So, I'll figure that I'll do my normal commute four days per week and that I'll plug the Volt in at the office (actually, down the street at the laboratory) during each of those days so that the ICE isn't used. On the fifth day, I'll assume I go to the office and then leave for a meeting 35 miles away, that is, 70 miles out and back from the office, and then another 32.5 back to the house. I'll also need to use the fact that the Volt is specified at 50 m.p.g. when the ICE is running the electric motor. I can, no doubt, do better than that but I'll use it.

Using these figures, I estimate that I spend $61.91 per week or $3,219.34 annually on gas in the Land Rover, and that I'd spend $22.94 per week or $1,193.04 annually for gas in the Prius, and $17.44 per week or $907.00 annually on gas plus electricity for the Volt.

Now, the Land Rover is paid for but not by me (except indirectly). The Company will get a minor cash infusion by selling it. I'd estimate that the Prius will cost about $7,000 less than the Volt after all is said and done (that is, purchase price out the door). The $286/year isn't going to make up that difference, so the rational thing to do is to buy a Prius, assuming that a pure ICE vehicle is ruled out. More to follow.

No comments: