Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Scott writes: I found your suggestion a good one and am going to look at a Chevy Volt. I inherited a subscription to Consumer Reports and in their April 2020 issue they put the Volt in the “best used car” category. (As an LRC reader CR is a little creepy to me.)
So the main benefit over other plug-in-hybrids is that it stays in battery only mode for the first ~50 miles and then the generator/engine kicks on? So I anticipate shopping for one that is a few years old. Any thoughts on the advantage of low mileage (to keep as many years as possible before batteries decline) and newer models that have more Uncle Sam driving along with you?
My reply: There are several benefits! The first is that the Volt is capable of operating entirely on battery power much farther – and much faster – than any other hybrid on the market. Around 50 miles – and at highway speeds. Only a few (plug-in) hybrids can be driven for any significant distance at normal speeds on just the battery and even then the distance they can go is in the 10-12 mile ballpark. Regular hybrids can creep at near walking speeds for a mile or so on the battery.
The advantage here is clear. If your trip is within the Volt’s 50 mile range on battery power you can easily get away with burning no gas at all, possibly for weeks. Even if your trip is farther, you’ll still only be burning gas for the portion that isn’t covered by the battery’s range.
Over time, this can save you a lot of money as charging the Volt is cheaper than filling the tank.
But it also saves you time because the Volt doesn’t have to stop when it runs out of charge – like every other electric car. Instead, it recharges itself as you drive – something no other electric car can do.
There are also probable additional benefits. One is that because the Volt’s gas engine is lightly used, relative to a conventional car’s engine, it will probably last a very long time. And because the Volt’s battery pack never experiences the heavy discharge/charge cycling of a conventional electric car it will probably last longer than a conventional EV battery pack.
This car is the best hybrid ever put on the road and by far the best electric car.
As far as Uncle: The Volt is – surprisingly – less Big Brothery than other GM vehicles of its vintage (2019 is the last year) and vastly more so than a Tesla, which is tethered to the Tesla hive mind. It has some of the usual annoying buzzers and lights but these can be turned off pretty easily.
I think you’ll be very happy with it!
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