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Why I Bought my Chevy Volt

Posted in Bulletin Board

It's time to get off foreign oil while creating American jobs!

For 13 years I've driven a Toyota hybrid-electric Prius. The Prius saved some gas and helped reduce smog. But with the Chevy Volt, the technology finally exists to go carbon (and oil) free in personal transportation.

I purchased a new Volt about a month ago and I have yet to use one drop of gas! From performance, luxury and functionality standpoints, the Volt far exceeds the Prius. But the real benefit with the Volt is its ability to drive without using gas. Unlike the Prius, which uses electricity and gas, the Volt uses electricity then gas. Each time you charge the Volt's 16 kWh battery pack, you get up to 50 miles of gas-free driving (note that the car is rated 38 miles per charge, but when I drive the speed limit, I easily get 45-50 miles per charge). If that charge runs out, a gas engine kicks in and powers a generator that supplies electricity to the electric motor. Thus, the driving range on the Volt is similar to any car (in excess of 300 miles). If you are an average commuter. who drives less than 50 miles per day, you can drive without using gas as long as you recharge each night.

In my case, I have solar photovoltaic panels on my house that generate 5,000 kWh per year. The Volt uses 10 kWh per charge, or 3,650 kWh per year, if I drive 50 miles every day of the year. With the solar panels supplying electricity to the grid in excess of the amount of energy my car uses in a year, I'm literally driving using the sun!

With the available incentives, the cost of a Volt is such that I could not afford NOT to buy it. Here's the simple math:

$39,212 (MSRP; includes destination fee)
-$3,000 (manufacturer's rebate on all 2012 models)
+$526 (handling fees)
+$1,667 (Basalt sales tax)
=$38,404 (subtotal and amount financed at 0% over 72 months no money down)
-$7,500 (federal tax credit)
-$5896 (state alt fuel vehicle tax credit)
=$25,008 net total cost to me

With 0% financing over 72 months and no money down (offered on all 2012 models; 0% over 60 months is available for 2013 models), I pay $533/month for 6 years. However, I am taking the two tax credits and the sale of my Prius ($10k) and putting those monies into one savings account totaling $24,396. Using this savings to pay my monthly payment of $533, I don't make a payment out of my own pocket for 45 months. By month 45, I will have paid $0 out of pocket and saved an additional $12,318 at $3,285 per year in gas cost (relative to an SUV at 20 mpg driving 16,000 miles/year or 45 miles per day). If I drive less than 50 miles per day, I will literally NEVER use gas again. The charge costs me zero out of pocket since my solar panels generate the electricity. However, a night's charge without solar power generation is 10 kWh or about 80 cents.

Even better, since the car rarely uses its brakes (it slows itself down with its regenerative braking) and since the engine rarely runs (resulting in no oil use, no filter, fluids, belts, engine ware, etc.), maintenance costs are essentially zero, saving at least $2,000 over 45 months. The car is genius:  Each month it sends me an email (yes, the car sends me emails - connected via satellite) of a complete remote diagnostic maintenance review of the car, informing me if it needs maintenance work. This includes informing me when the air in a tire is low.  From my iPhone, I can ask the car to warm its interior space so that on chilly mornings I get into a warm car. I can also check on the status of a charge, start the car, lock or unlock the doors, or find the car via satellite, among many other things. Standard options include free On Star (phone, satellite, emergency connection), free satellite radio, energy efficiency data screen, touchscreen controls, and the list goes on and on.

The car is absolutely silent with no combustion of fossil fuels. It feels more akin to flying a jet or playing some high-tech video game. Oh, and I did I mention that the car has a "sport" mode that makes it lightning fast and fun to drive? The perks seem endless!

But how can anyone afford such a car? When all costs and savings are tallied, if I sell the car at month 45 at the Kelly Blue Book estimated residual value of $18,000, I will literally make a net "profit" of $8,318. Here's the math on that:  At month 45 I will still owe $14,000 on the car (but again, no cash has come out of my pocket to this point; tax credits and the sale of my old Prius paid everything to that point), add to that the $18,000 sale of the car plus $12,318 in gas savings and $2,000 in maintenance savings, and you get $18,318 less the sale of my old Prius for $10,000 results in the $8,312 net profit.

Try the new American made Chevy Volt; reduce our dependency on Middle Eastern oil, create American jobs, reduce air and noise pollution, and save some money along the way.

~ Chris Lane, CEO