How We Became An All-Plug-In Electric Car Household Page 2

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2013 Chevrolet Volt Fuel Economy

2013 Chevrolet Volt Fuel Economy

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Range anxiety

With gasoline in the UK now over $8.50 a gallon, the thought of using the Prius as a daily commuter filled us both with dread, especially for shorter-distance trips where it was least efficient. 

To save money and cut tailpipe emissions, my wife has been driving the Leaf to her current client site, covering more than 80 miles a day thanks to a top-off charge at work from a household outlet. 

Inspired by seeing an electric car in the office parking lot, her client even installed four public charging stations for visitor use. But her next client may not be so generous.

We worried that a 100-percent battery electric fleet could be a dangerous move, especially if the next client was outside of the range of our Leaf.

Add to that an elderly relative on the other side of the country who may need us to drop everything and head to their side--and some form of plug-in hybrid or range-extended electric car was the only sensible conclusion.

(A Tesla Model S was, sadly, out of our price range.)

Logical choice

The 2013 Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid -- a Europe-only diesel plug-in wagon -- was also out of our price range, and cars like the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi yet to launch in the U.K.

So we were left with two options: a 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, or a 2013 Chevrolet Volt (or its European cousin, the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera.)

With just 11 miles of all-electric range and marginal all-electric performance, the 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid would deliver gas mileage only marginally better than our Prius.

That pointed us towards the Volt. And while the Vauxhall Ampera is far more common in Europe than the Volt, we preferred the Volt’s styling and slightly lower sticker price.

We negotiated a trade-in deal with one of the only three Volt dealers in the U.K., and we made our purchase. 

2013 Chevrolet Volt and 2011 Nissan LEAF

2013 Chevrolet Volt and 2011 Nissan LEAF

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Four days later -- and even after a 150-mile drive back from the dealership -- our Volt is giving us triple-digit fuel economy thus far.

That's blended electric and gasoline operation, of course--we haven't driven it on gasoline far enough to know its mileage in range-extending mode.

With two days of commutes under her belt, my wife has managed to make the entire 80-mile round trip on just two full charges of electricity and less than one mile's worth of gasoline. 

Assuming she can continue that kind of fuel economy, we estimate we’ll need to fill up a few times a year, even including the occasional cross-country trip. 

In the past two years, our Leaf has helped us save more than 1,000 gallons of gasoline and thousands of dollars of fuel.

Thanks to a renewable energy rate from the local utility company, we also know that it has been mostly charged using wind-generated energy.

Our newest addition, which is already proving its worth, should not only improve our family’s carbon footprint, but save us even more in the long term.


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