Their future looks green
It was a running gag that kept us mildly entertained during the three-hour drive to Kingston for our daughter’s graduation ceremony at Queen’s.
As I packed up the Volt and unplugged the charger from the garage, my wife wondered whether I had made arrangements with the hotel to recharge the battery for the drive home. I replied I had not, partly because borrowing the Star’s Volt for the trip was a game-time decision left up to Bonnie, since she was the one who had worked so long and hard to reach this milestone in her life.
I suggested we could ask when we got there, but would likely just rely on the gas backup for the return trip. To which Bonnie added, in a suitably snooty accent: “Excuse me good sir: We shall be requiring a place to plug in our electric automobile. The concierge has been made aware in advance of our situation.”
We all chuckled as she repeated this line whenever there was a lull in the conversation during our journey. So you can imagine the look on our faces when we pulled into the hotel parking lot. There, right next to the lobby, in front of one of two spots reserved for check-in, was a green vehicle recharging station — just like the ones installed at the Star building for our Green Project.
As I sheepishly confirmed with the front desk that I could leave the Volt plugged in overnight, I started to realize electric cars may have a future after all, beyond the current narrow niche of green fanatics with deep pockets.
Yes, the Volt needed the gas-powered backup to get to and from Kingston, but it was a seamless transition that I never noticed over the sound of the radio. And the fact we got about 50 gas-free kilometers on each leg of the trip helped reduce the overall fuel consumption to 6.0 L/100 km — about half what I would have needed in my own vehicle.
The savings were even more significant on my round-trip 90-km commute to work, and a 200-km round trip to Orillia on the weekend. In both cases, the electric charge took me most of the way (all the way, in fact, on my downhill drive into work), and would greatly reduce my commuting costs.
This despite the fact most of those kilometers were at highway speeds, and a personal driving style that had the Volt’s nanny-like guide spinning in protest over my lead foot and late braking. (I also kept selecting the less-efficient Sport driving mode, which really should be the default, since the Normal mode is annoyingly sluggish.)
At $40,000, I won’t be rushing out to buy a Volt tomorrow. But I can, for the first time, foresee the day when an electric car may make sense for suburban drivers, and be a no-brainer for city dwellers.