Monday, March 21, 2011

Coal Fired Fashion Fantasies

The Gown And the Volt Share this in Common

Coal Fired Fashion! Photo by Laney Riley.

Consumer Reports Tests Coal Powered Car

Most of our electricity is generated by coal fired power plants. That is not news. April's Consumer Reports got its hands on a Chevy Volt. I eagerly opened the magazine to see the bastion of consumer information's opinion of the newest coal fired automobile. To my surprise, there were no big surprises.

The volt is a plug-in hybrid. (Think 'Hack your Prius' technology here). You charge it up by plugging it in to your electric service overnight. The car claims to offer 25 to 50 miles of range on this charge, then a gasoline generator kicks in and extends the range to about 300 miles. Consumer reports has been getting the low end of the electric only range: 23 -28 miles. To be fair, they blame the low distance on the unusually cold winters. They say: "The car's electric range is very susceptible to cold weather, primarily because the heater runs on electricity. We also found that an extended highway cruise shortens the electrical range."

Obviously your driving needs will determine how efficient the Volt is for you.

Mike lives in Fishersville and works in Charlottesville. He has a mountain between him and his place of employment. Most days he'll be lucky to get to Crozet on his electric charge. Then he'll be getting about 30mpg. I'll cruise by him in my 1991 Mazda getting around 38. Since electricity isn't free, I doubt Mike would get any real savings from buying a Volt.

Consumer Report's Volt cost them $48,700. I paid several thousand for the Mazda. Who's ahead, especially when you consider the Volt's heavy government subsidies?

Consumer Reports concludes: "So far, the Volt works as an electric car with a gas backup, but it's not really much of a money saver in many places. Cheaper electricity or more expensive gas could tip the scales in its favor. For now, it seems that owning a Volt is an expensive way to be green." -- a FASHION STATEMENT, perhaps?

1 comment:

Bob K. said...

Mike writes: "That's why I signed up for working from home. Two more weeks. Obviously Mike is one of those "dangerous" individuals who think outside the box.