Best Volt Review Ever and Other Stuff

By · February 01, 2011

BBC EV report

Anti-EV reporting is hardly a new thing, but the BBC's recent hatchet job was a stand-out.

Note from Brad Berman, PluginCars.com Editor: Here we are, about one month after the arrival of mainstream electric cars from Nissan and General Motors, and the volume of exciting electric car news is only accelerating. Some of the headlines are very encouraging, but other stories getting just as much play are not much more than EV buzz for buzz sake.

So, I asked Chelsea to help us sort out the wheat from the chaff by pointing out a handful of stories that deserve some attention. Take it away, Chelsea...

1

I was a doubter as this article circulated this week as the "best Volt review ever", wondering what could be so novel. But damn if it isn't a fun read, and captures Jim Woolsey as Deepthroat about perfectly:

Gene and the Machine: The shocking truth about the electric Volt

2

Infrastructure is heavy on my mind these days, for reasons covered in this story:

Wanted: Fair Costs for Electric Car Home Charger Installations

3

And I've been thinking so much about the wisdom of EV road trips (or lack thereof) that I finally weighed in myself in the wake of the BBC shenanigans:

Chelsea Sexton Slams Bias On Both Sides Over Electric-Car Range

Comments

· · 3 years ago

Chelsea,

Thanks! Great stuff.

I loved Gene's review of the Volt: beautiful piece of writing, funny,engaging, and it hit on all the key points that make the Volt a great car. (This last, "Volt a great car" coming from a guy that thinks of GM as having built just two good cars, the Corvette and the EV1, prior to coming up with the Volt.)

Although I long ago drank the Kool-aid regarding PHEVs and believe that they are the best way forward for the largest number of people, I love it when my own PHEV is silent, and am tempted to increase its battery range. But doing so would add weight and cost, making the vehicle both less efficient and more costly -- a hard sell, I think. But nevertheless, I love the idea of a pure electric, in the same way that I like sailing without any auxiliary power. There is a little edge of fanaticism there that is shared by (possibly) too many EV early adopters.

If you want to be frightened away from EV's, just go to a meeting of an EV club.

I admire the purists and their enthusiasm, but agree with your observation in your linked article that we can shoot ourselves in our feet when we try to make EVs into something they are not, and we both draw attention to and distort limits when we do so.

What EVs are, today, is sufficiently wonderful. 100 miles per charge is 36,500 miles per year. I have never put that many miles on a car in a year. I've never come close.

The same foot-shooting applies to overly positive EV hype from manufacturers. When Nissan claimed 367 MPGe for the LEAF, many people cried foul... and the EPA agrees with those people. I agree with those people. There is no reasonable measure of efficiency that makes the LEAF 10 times as efficient as the Volt running on gasoline. When Chevy claimed 230 mpg for the Volt, many people cried foul. This is not the kind of thing that makes you trust your manufacturer.

Even the Ford vs Nissan 6.6kW vs 3.3kW charging arguments can be counterproductive, I think. Opportunity charging is great for hobbyists and enthusiasts, but the vast majority of electric car uses will plug in overnight. What could be simpler... and what a great convenience!

Thanks again for the great post.

· · 3 years ago

>> Thanks again for the great post.
.And certainly thank you for yours as well, Ken. Nicely stated.

· · 3 years ago

Thanks Ken- well said indeed. I especially like "sufficiently wonderful". ;)

I hear you on the purists- in any direction. I know we get excited, and I've been part of a few stunts myself- but I find we have more credibility when we're the first to call them what they are. And while all of us- enthusiasts, manufacturers, etc., will skin a few knees along the way on messaging and other fronts, it's learning from them that matters. But we have to hold ourselves to the same standards we want to impose on industry and media if we're to be taken seriously.

I'm less worried about the 6.6 vs 3.3kW argument (and I commented at length over on that thread about why I fall in the 6.6kW camp, even at the expense of fast charging) because it's so obtuse to the general public. More problematic to me is the debate between either of those and fast charging, and the arguments brewing over the fast charging standard. Lots of work yet to be done!

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