Thursday, August 25, 2011


I've been reading news articles and various comments on the Volt's pricing, and it got me thinking. The Volt offers a lot of options in the basic package and you can add some things to make it really well equipped, certainly well on the level of many mid-level luxury cars such as Lexus and Buick. (We'll avoid discussion of the lack of a power seat option for now.)

Some commenters say that the Volt is priced too high, that commuters won't spend that much money for a ride to work. But I started paying attention to what my fellow commuters are driving around me on my route between North Hollywood and Pasadena, and while there are a range of cars from expensive to poverty rides, the deck is definitely stacked towards the higher end. AND, more importanly, the level of luxury SUV/truck drivers who have decked out their rides to prices way over the sticker price of a Volt is quite high.

Case in point: BMWs are everywhere. You can't drive 50 feet without seeing at least 3 of them. Heck, my next-door neighbor has 3 of them parked in his driveway along with a Mercedes and a Jetta. (Huh? Go figure.) Well, what does a *lower-end* Beemer 3 Series Sedan go for these days? And how does it compare? Here's entry level:

The base MSRP for a 2011 model is less than a Volt, but I went to Edmunds to see what a car outfitted similarly to my Volt would run in real world pricing. And here's what that respected web site showed me.

MSRP is close to the Volt sticker price (actually higher after incentives). As I say, I tried to configure the car as closely as I could to the Volt, but there are some things the BMW doesn't offer, such as the DVD entertainment system (unless I missed it) and free OnStar. A lot of items that came standard on my car are extra-cost options on this BMW, such as the Park Distance Control, Satellite Radio, Bluetooth and the Navigation system. But as long as it's offered, so what. Still, this car only gets up to 18 city/28 highway mpg. So you get to pay around the same price for the car, get a couple less features, and then have to pay for gasoline to do all your driving. Advantage: Volt!

How about a Benz, I went looking at those next. Again I went to the Edmunds price guide and here's what I found: The lowest priced offering is the C-Class and the C-300 Luxury Sedan seems to be the lowest of the low priced offerings. Here's the list of features:

More stuff here is standard but you still have to go with some options to bring the car up to the level of features on my car. Looking at the price guide on Edmunds site, this is what I found:

And again keep in mind nothing matches up exactly on the options. It looks like the sound system and keyless options are a snad ahead of the Volt's, but still comparable. But the options on this model Mercedes do have one very glaring shortfall. Can't get it in red! Nope, no red exterior color at all. Buzzer! (Probably *can* get it on a more expensive model.) And once again the MSRP is close to Volt's and even the "true" pricing is about where the Volt is after credits. As with the BMW, not terribly great gas mileage so you are spending big dollars on foreign oil. Once again, advantage: Volt!

Another car I see a lot of is the Porsche Boxster. Looks like a new 2011 model MSRP starts at $48,100 so I don't even need to see what the options are. I see Nissan Z cars see going to work alongside me a lot on the 134 freeway too, which start at a cool $63,205 sticker price while getting 18 city/26 hwy mpg. I guess there's no point in mentioning the occasional Bently I see.Yes, these are very different cars but the point is that this is what commuters are willing/able to spend for a drive to work.

It's true that a Chevrolet Cruze or Malibu is a good deal less than a Volt. And they are good cars, especially the Cruze which is selling like hotcakes right now. But, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ran the numbers comparing such cars to both the Volt and a Nissan Leaf to determine the cost of ownership for an average driver over five years. Does the fuel savings make up for the higher sticker price? Well, they were surprised at how well the two electric vehicles did compared to their closest gas-powered siblings. Volt vs. Cruze LTZ and the Leaf SV vs. Versa S Hatchback. Both cost roughly $18,000 more than their gas-only brethren. But over five years of ownership, the Volt comes within $500 of Cruze's total costs, and the Leaf is only $800 more to own than the Versa because they save so much on fuel. [Note that Kiplinger revised this a bit later because they did not take occasional gasoline usage into account on the Volt. But if you do use much gas, the numbers are still within about $1500! also, After evaluating all of the Volt’s real costs, Vincentric named it the best value in America 2011 in its new “Eco” classification.] And all the while you can use U.S. made electricity which is centrally produced and emissions scrubbed in a way that can't be done on individual cars, and thumb your nose at foreign oil.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Here's some fun...

Rush... what can you say. He is an "entertainer", pure and simple. Nothing he says has to be based in reality (sound like any Christian Fundamentalists you know?) so there's never any point in taking him seriously or arguing. Still, some folks do believe every word just as they think soap operas are reality television. So it's nice to hear a little slap back:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report

I got the new report this morning and they've added the economy information that has been promised for awhile. I have a low tire alert as well, with 2 tires registering 32 PSI. But the excitement here, just like with the country, is all about the economy... well, fuel and electric mileage economy at least.

So here it is:

To highlight the important aspect of this report, it's the KiloWatt hours - KWh that's important to me. Not surprisingly, since I have used less than one gallon of gas, all the miles pretty much add up to the MPG rating. But I roll on electric so getting 31 KWh per 100 miles of driving is a big deal. If the current power bill is indicative of a typical month, the base TOU rate minus the EV discount plus the "Adjustments" add up to about $.08292 per KWh. Doing the math, that means it costs me about $2.65 to go 100 miles. At today's $4.25/gallon it would cost over $13 to go that distance on gasoline if your car got 32 MPG. Bob's Escalade gets more like 20 so figure on over $21!

That's right!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

3 Month ODO Check

[1685] Well, almost 3 months. Time for a check of the ODO:

Been roughly three months and I'm still not putting the miles on this car I could. I'm allowed 12,000 miles per year or about 1000 miles per month, so I've got extra miles to burn.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rebate Check Arrived!

As I expected, the rebate check arrived a few says from the date I got notified by email that the rebate was approved. I will take it to the bank this evening when we go out to dinner. Sweet!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

ChargePoint Network Notification: GFCI Trip

The station at which your vehicle is charging, CHEVROLET VOLT / FREDERIC FOER01, has detected a Ground Fault and has suspended charging. This could occur when the station detects an abnormal diversion of electrical current that may be flowing to ground. A GFCI fault indicates an abnormality which could be caused by faulty circuitry, wiring or connector in the charging station or in the vehicle. When detected, the station will stop delivering power to the vehicle. The station will retry after a 15-minute countdown, but give up after three occurrences. Please contact ChargePoint customer support or the manufacturer of the vehicle if you receive this notification again.

Thank you,
The ChargePoint Network!

So, I found this about 9:45 and it must have made the three tries. I just unplugged the car and then gave it a few seconds before plugging back in. Started charging right away. <shrug>

Rebate Approved!

Got an email tonight from LADWP EV Home Charger Rebate Project Team telling me my paperwork I submitted was approved and a rebate check for $2000 will be mailed out this week. Whoopie! So the charger and the installation ended up costing me about $300 out of pocket total. Not bad at all and certainly well worth it to get the special charge rates.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Volt Sighting!

I spotted another Volt today on my way to work... I was late because of a doctor's appointment so this was around 12:30 PM in Burbank, at the intersection of Victory and Burbank Blvd right next to the 5 freeway. I didn't notice if it had plates or not, but since 2012's are not yet shipping, I'm guessing it must still be a 2011 model. It was a dark gray color. I waved but not sure if the driver saw me.

Monday, August 1, 2011


I got this cool two year calendar from Bunnin today. It includes a pic of me with the new car the day they delivered it. I grabbed that pic off the web site shown in the calendar to post here...