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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chevy Volt Adventure

My family is now the second (in Texas or Austin, not 100% sure) to take delivery of a 2011 Chevy Volt. We got it last night and it's sitting in the carport happily charged.

The car is very cool, very high tech. It sends you status emails. It chides you for jackrabbit starts (although I gather other electric and hybrid vehicles do as well).

It is freaky quiet in electric mode, a bit rumbly in extended mode.

The interior is pretty nice, reasonably well laid out, nicely detailed. The back seat is reasonably comfortable (I have the torso of a 6-foot person and my head cleared the back window).

Accelerates snappily in normal driving mode (haven't had a chance to try the "sport" mode yet). Handles pretty nicely (the batteries are stored along the center length of the vehicle, giving it pretty good balance).

We'll be driving it to Houston, about 500 miles round trip, in a couple of days. I'll report our experience.

Early adopters get some perks. We get 5 years of free OnStar service. We get a free 240v charging station from the City of Austin at the cost of letting them monitor the energy usage of the charger. We get a special parking space at the new branch library near us. The Whole Foods flagship store has charging stations--might actually motivate me to shop there (we normally avoid that Whole Foods because it's really hard to park and you know, it's Whole Foods).

One thing that will take some getting used to is not having to put a key into it in order to operate it. I kept reflexively reaching toward the steering column to remove the key that wasn't there.

Here's a question for you Electrical Engineers out there: what is the equivalent to miles per gallon for an electric vehicle? Is it miles per megajoule? miles per amp-hour?

I'm trying to remember what the unit of potential electrical energy is and coming up blank (not sure I ever really knew).

Oh, and since we have a PV system on the house and can control when charging takes place, I am going to claim that this Volt is a solar powered vehicle.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Ian Phillips said...

Errm, the unit of electrical potential energy is the Volt. But the unit you're probably looking for is the Kilowatt-Hour (or Megawatt-Hour I guess, if you're talking about car mileage!).

9:49 AM  
Blogger Eliot Kimber said...

Yes, I may not be asking the question correctly.

Now that I think about it, miles per gallon is really a measure of cost to travel one mile of road. The value reflects not just the potential energy in the fuel but the energy required to move the vehicle that mile, which of course varies with the mass of the vehicle and its air and road resistance, as well as the efficiency of the engine, and the amount of energy wasted in slowing the vehicle as required.

So the measure would I think be energy expended per distance traveled, so Watt-hours/per mile?

10:15 AM  
Blogger David said...

So once you've had it a while let us know if it sucks less than other cars. :-)

11:58 AM  
Blogger Mark Wilder said...

Miles per gallon of gasoline is simply a measurement of how far yo can go per unit of stuff you have to buy. Since we buy our electricity in kW-hours, the equivalent would be miles per kW-hour.

Check out Wikipedia's entry on "miles per gallon gasoline equivalent" for more information.

6:33 PM  

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