One year of Chevrolet Volt ownership was reached on January 6, 2013. Today, January 7, 2013, marks the beginning of year two. My previous blog entries go over a lot of my personal feelings on the car, so I am going to focus on just the numbers for this entry.
According to AAA, the average price of gas in 2012 was $3.60 a gallon, which set the record. Below I computed my savings based on the average price of gas for 2012. When I post these through-out the year, I use the weekly average for my numbers because keeping track of a yearly rolling average can be tricky.
What isn't listed here in additional savings is that I had no oil changes for the year. Throw in 3 oil changes (at around 7,500 mile intervals) that most of the comparison cars would have needed and makes the Volt even more attractive. I also only paid for about half the electricity listed up there. While I did use about $371 in electricity, the place I charge at work provides electricity at no cost to me (supporting their sustainability mission) and a lot of the malls and shopping centers I go to also allow me to charge for free. I also received my level 2 charger at no cost to me, thanks to Progress Energy and being an early adopter. While that giveaway is no longer available, new Volt owners are making this up with by often paying 3-4k below sticker price. I paid almost sticker price for my Volt. It is now possible to get Volts around 30k, after tax credits, at dealerships that push heavy volume Volt sales.
In retrospect, my actual numbers were pretty close to my early estimates for yearly driving assumptions and expenses. I had initially thought I would drive 22k miles a year, but a long vacation abroad at the end of December ended up shaving about 1,000 miles off my anticipated total.
One of the more interesting observations after a year of ownership is the degree the EPA label underrates Volt performance and savings. Many Volt owners have stated that the EPA label should be considered a floor. In other words, in all likelihood, a Volt owner will do MUCH better than what is stated on the EPA label. For example, the range of 35 miles for a 2011 and 2012 was generally only seen during winter months, and most owners that I have spoken to exceed 40 most of the year (including me).
So I decided to have a little fun.
I took the EPA label for a 2012 Volt then edited it to match my actual performance. I changed their assumptions in the fine print to match my circumstances exactly, including REDUCING the 5 year price of gas average the EPA has on the label (as $3.95 a gallon) to the average gas I experienced in 2012 of $3.60. I recomputed MPGe based on my average consumption of 31 kWh/100 miles.
Anything in GREEN is an improvement on the label. Anything in RED was when the Volt underperformed. The only thing in red was the combined MPG of 36 instead of the labeled 37. My engine ran so little, often coming on for 1 or 2 miles throughout the year, that the engine was not able to warm up and gain any efficiency. On the few trips where I traveled a long distance, the engine was averaging about 45 MPG.
Below is the original label. The differences are pretty stark. Without a doubt, I have some of the best electrical rates in the country, and have found ways to charge when I am at work to prevent the gas engine from ever turning on. But this should give readers an indication of the ENORMOUS variability in calculating the costs of operating an electric car. There is room for a lot of improvement over the EPA label.
Pictures speak louder than words.
This is how much gas the Volt used in one year
Had I driven a car getting 50 MPG, like a Prius, this is how much gas I would have used:
Had I driven a car getting 30 MPG, like a Chevy Cruze, this is how much gas I would have used:
Had I driven a car getting 23 MPG, approximately the new car average, this is my fuel burn:
And finally, if I elected to drive a car getting 17 MPG, I would have used this small amount of petrol:
If anyone believes my power rate is wrong, please see the bottom of this post for an explanation.