A fifth seat.
Those three words are really the only reason.
I absolutely love and adore my Chevy Volt. I take pride in the role I played encouraging GM to produce the car and in helping to build public support.
I have had the honor of owning the eighth unit off the production line since December of 2010. So far I have driven the car 14,000 miles with a lifetime 190 mpg. It has been a fun high tech and dependable car. In fact I always imagined I would own the car for 20 or 30 years. That is until this summer.
I am married with three young children now 6,10, and 13 years old. When I first bought the Volt our second car was a gas-powered three row SUV.
My wife became enamored with driving electric as well, and so when our SUV lease ended, she decided to get a Nissan LEAF. The LEAF is an ideal car for her. She drives a large number of miles, about 1500-1800 per month mostly on short 20 or so mile back and forth drives often shuttling the kids around. In an SUV this needlessly burns a large volume of gas and requires frequent expensive trips to the gas station.
Since we only occasionally take long family drives, we figured we would rent a car for those trips.
In the summer we had a planned booked beach vacation, about 250 miles from home. We reserved a rental car and when we went to pick it up the day of our trip, there was an error and no cars were available. No other rental agencies were open that Sunday either. We had no choice but to pack five of us into the Volt, and my wife and I took turns sitting with our daughter on our lap in one of the back seats. It was awfully uncomfortable and technically dangerous.
The problem is, as great as the Volt is, it only has four seats.
The initial Volt concept car had a normal rear bench. Personally I was surprised and disappointed when it was unveiled that the T-shaped battery pack would run through the center of the car cutting the rear bench into only two seats.
Fortunately, we have now arrived at a time, when more and more choice is becoming available among plugin cars.
Next month Ford is launching the sale of its newest plugin hybrid, the C-MAX Energi. The vehicle is a small wagon or crossover design and has a 7.5 kwh lithium battery pack mounted below and behind the seats. It offers a real world EV-only driving range of at least 20 miles (down from the Volt's roughly 36 miles). However in hybrid mode, the Ford delivers an impressive 47 mpg combined city/highway mileage, way up from the Volt's 37 mpg. The car is also reasonably priced at $33,745 before a $3750 tax rebate.
The C-MAX Energi might not be as aesthetic as the Volt nor as symbolic, but it is a very practical design for a family of my size. Furthermore since my daily commute is only 6 miles round trip (it used to be 60 when I bought the Volt) I will still rarely use any gas.
I am grateful to GM for launching the plugin revolution, and I have enjoyed my two years of Volt driving. Change however is an inevitable fact of life.
After all the Volt's greenlighting GM CEO Rick Wagoner is long gone, vehicle line executive Frank Weber is at BMW, vehicle line director Tony Posawatz is CEO of Fisker, and Volt spokesperson Rob Peterson is gone from the Volt team. And so it is that the Volts number one fan, and founder of GM-Volt.com has no choice but to trade in his car.
Stay tuned here as I report my C-MAX Energi delivery, which I hope will be one of the first in the nation.