Driving the Chevy Volt to an oil pipeline hearing
It didn’t occur to me, until I was already rolling down the 401 toward London, Ont., that someone might take exception to a reporter driving an electric hybrid car to a hearing on an oil pipeline.
But that was the assignment – covering a National Energy Board hearing in London, to consider Enbridge’s plans to pipe western Canadian oil through Ontario. The Volt was surprisingly normal to drive, once you got over the initial oddity of not having to stick the key in the ignition.
For some reason I’d expected it to be sluggish, but it responded to the accelerator pretty much like a conventional car. I wish I could pinpoint some quirk in the way the car handled, but I can’t.
For a highway trip like Toronto-London, I did wonder what was the point of having an electric car. The battery lasted until the far side of Mississauga. The transition to gasoline-charged electric was seamless, but from Mississauga to London, and then back to Toronto, the Volt was essentially being powered by gasoline, albeit a gasoline engine charging an electric battery.
So if you’re doing mostly highway driving, why bother? You’ll still be driving on gasoline most of the time.
The one quirk I did find was in the touch-screen control panel. Fiddling with the radio dial to try to find a new station, my hand must have brushed a sensitive spot on the screen. All of a sudden it was asking me to set the temperature and ventilation controls.
But that’s just a function of driving the car for the first time. If you drove the car regularly, you’d soon figure out how to deal with that.
The only other problem was finding a parking spot that was far removed from the pipeline hearing room. You wouldn’t want all those oil men seeing you drive up in an electric car.