Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Beemer Arrives

Bob Took delivery this afternoon. So now my little Voltie has some competition in the house. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Beemer News - The VIN!

Bob got an email from his BMW guy today saying his car was in transit to the dealership. The email included a VIN. This is the first solid proof that he is actually going to get a car. Pretty cool. If the car is just coming from Oxnard as has been indicated on the BMW forums, it should be showing up in just a day or so. Here's the VIN: WBAUP3C55BVS99039

Friday, February 24, 2012

February OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report

Mileage: 6115

Electric Miles: 291
Gas Miles: 0
Total Miles: 291

Percentage on Electric: 100 %

Oil life: 83%

Electric Consumption:  31 kW-hr/100 miles (not sure why this is at odds with the Lifetime economy reading, but there it is.) 

Tire rotation is still due at 7500 miles.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Beemer News...

Bob got a message from his BMW dealer saying that some allocated cars are shipping to the dealers this week. So things are looking good and they're very eager to meet us very soon!

Monday, February 20, 2012

6000 Miles at Last!

Finally hit 6K on the way home tonight. Wow, I'm going to be lucky to hit 8K before the end of my first year.

MPG Ratings

I find it funny how, when news agencies talk about things the public generally knows about, they can say things that are not the full and accurate truth but nobody really complains because they know enough of the facts behind the story and can fill in the gaps for themselves. But when people don't already know, all they see is the "truth" presented to them in the news story. In many cases, that isn't a complete enough picture.

Case in point, a recent article in the respected New York Times had an article about cars that can pass up the pump and there was a lot of good, if abbreviated information in there. For example, the last car they mentioned was the new Toyota Prius plug-in. They said:
"...the new Prius plug-in hybrid can travel just 15 miles on battery juice alone — one-third the Volt’s range — but it can top 50 m.p.g. when its gas engine comes into play, beating the Chevy."
 Now, almost any Volt owner knows what's wrong with that statement, yet it is technically correct in many ways. The *rated* gasoline mileage on a Volt is indeed 35 MPG. That assumes you are driving the Volt only on the gas generator with no power from the battery. But that practically never happens. And a casual reader of the NY Times would never get that. As Paul Harvey would say, here's the rest of the story.

First, a lot depends on how and how far you routinely drive. If you are like most people, your daily drive is within the Volt's approximately 40 mile battery-only range. So until you actually burn some gas, your gas mileage is infinite. If you occasionally drive in extended range mode, the gas MPG you use will average into your battery-only rating and will give you a very high MPG rating. We're talking hundreds of miles to the gallon. Add to this averaging the fact that you can get some "free" miles even when you are in extended range mode, running the generator, and you can easily beat the pants off of any hybrid. Prius plug-in included. An article in Green Car Reports spelled these "free" miles out pretty clearly. Some drivers report mileage as high as 45 mpg while the gas engine is running, not counting any averaging for electric miles. The short reason for this is that once the Volt has recharged its battery somewhat via regenerative braking (and unused juice from the generator, I imagine), it will then switch back to electric-drive mode for a few miles here and there. These miles get recorded under the gas-driven mileage, but no gas is being used while the car is driving them, so the official rating gets recorded as fewer MPG than the car actually got.

The MPG estimate stated in the NY Times article is quoting official figures. Officially, the Volt gets 35 MPG when running only on gas. They are correct to compare official numbers across the board, so when they quote a 15 mile battery-only electric range, they don't really need to explain that 15 miles is about the best you'll do in warm weather and city driving. Likewise, 50 MPG gas-only range is an official estimate. But article after article talks about how Prius owners find getting 50 MPG nearly impossible, as anyone who understands official MPG ratings can easily realize. Unless you drive like you have an egg between your foot and the gas pedal, and drive on flat terrain, at surface street speeds, it isn't going to happen. The Volt's official 35 MPG rating is, conversely, about the worst you can expect to get. My real, every day driving in a combination of city and freeway, in traffic and clear highways has given me an average of 685 MPG since I got the car in May of last year. And I have filled the 8 gallon tank one time since I got the car. (The tank was filled when I got it, so I've used about 7.5 gallons in 9 months.) My electricity usage has cost me $30 a month. The car is on a dedicated meter, so it's clearly separated out from the rest of the electric bill. Try to find a Prius driver who spends $30 a month to drive 32 miles a day, 5 days a week. You won't find one.

Good day!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

GM's New Ads

So there's a new article in Green Car Reports about how GM is changing the advertising for the Volt.

I think I've pretty much known for some time that GM has a moron in charge of advertising for this product. But the real disappointment for me is that so many people not only don't know much about the Volt but don't *want* to know the facts. And all they have to say about it is rabid froth. They haven't seen one in-person let alone driven one but they've already decided that it's trash. We are surrounded by folks willing to elect Rick Santorum for President, for cryin' out loud. People who see gasoline prices rising and think... what? That more and more people on this planet are going to be able to keep driving bigger, faster, more racy gas-engined cars on a middle-class paycheck?

I don't get it. You'd think the awards that the Volt has gotten, the way it fits into a vast majority of people's driving habits and yet its flexibility and extended range, the high level of quality and engineering that has gone into it and the amazing support GM has offered buyers would make them at least stop long enough to listen to a few facts and try it for themselves... But I think the truth is that the folks who are really in the target market for this car are silent on the issue. The ones making absurd and outright wrong comments about the Volt and EVs in general are people who couldn't buy one if they wanted to, so no point in trying it out. I know a few people who have tried it and found it was not really something they felt worked well for them, but were impressed and had nothing but good things to say about it regardless. But most I know of actively want one!

So what is the problem these people who have never seen or driven a Volt have? What causes such a closed and negative mind? What makes people so venomous against a car that is only presenting one option (and one widely recognized as a good option!) to a certain segment of the buying public?

BTW: I get so tired of hearing people bitch about their taxes paying for EV subsidies. There are a host of reasons why the subsidies are (A) tiny compared to other stuff the government subsidizes, and (B) absolutely needed to jump start the adoption of not only the cars themselves, but the infrastructure (home chargers and such). China’s government is pushing EVs in a big way too. They've pledged $1.5 billion per year for the next 10 years in subsidies and tax breaks to support the industry.