Richard Hammar couldn’t have purchased a new Chevy Volt at a more opportune time. With gas prices soaring — likely headed toward $4 a gallon by fall — Hammar bought a Volt in Dallas on Friday and drove the innovative electric vehicle home to Springfield. It appears to be the first privately owned Chevy Volt in southwest Missouri.
“I feel very strongly about energy independence for the United States,” Hammar said Tuesday while giving a News-Leader reporter and photographer a ride. “I don’t want to spend any money on a country that wants to destroy us.” He called it his “patriotic duty” to buy a Volt, made by an American company.
Unlike most hybrid vehicles that use a gasoline engine to supplement electric motors for propulsion, the Volt is different. It relies on a large bank of lithium-ion batteries to power the vehicle 40 to 50 miles. At that point, a small gasoline engine automatically kicks on to turn a generator that recharges the batteries.
Hammar bought about eight gallons of fuel on the trip from Dallas to Springfield — an average of about 52 miles per
gallon. Now, with a daily round trip of 24 miles from home to work, Hammar said he doesn’t know when he’ll need to refill the car’s 9-gallon fuel tank because the car will be running exclusively on electricity. At home, he plugs the vehicle into a standard 110-volt electric outlet, which recharges the battery overnight.
[Hammar] researched total-electric cars that are beginning to appear on the market but chose the Volt because of its gasoline battery backup. “You have range anxiety with all-electric cars,” Hammar said. “You get to the end of the charge and the car stops. GM decided that’s a major impediment to the public’s acceptance of an electric vehicle.” Hammar said he’ll never have “range anxiety” with his Volt. “I could drive to California right now if I wanted to.”
The $43,000 price tag is steep, but Hammar said a $7,500 tax credit helps reduce the overall cost of the car.
Volt on display in Springfield
At Reliable Chevrolet in Springfield, salesman Darrin Moyers said one Volt is on display but is not yet for sale. He said the dealership expects to get more than a dozen Volt cars this summer. Although the showroom model isn’t for sale, Moyers said 12 people have signed papers to buy Volts when they do come in.
The car has heat and air conditioning — all battery-powered — and a unique battery cooling system designed to extend its life. “If the temperature outside drops to 20 below, a circuit in the car also turns on to keep the batteries warm,” he said. The batteries are guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles. The front-wheel-drive Volt seats four people and uses a computerized “smart” key to initiate the electric motor. Hammar started his Volt by pressing a button on the dash — a smart key in his pocket communicating with the car.
The car’s electric motor is so quiet that the car beeps its horn twice when started to alert people nearby that it’s moving.
Hammar monitors the car’s battery charge and tire pressure via an app on his iPhone. When the car is plugged in at home, Hammar can use his phone to tell the vehicle when to begin charging its batteries — useful in places where utility prices vary throughout the day.
So far, there have been no downsides, Hammar said. “I felt really good to buy American,” he said.
Reposted from News-Leader.com in Springfield, MO