One Year of Owning a Chevy Volt


Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt

We’ve all heard countless plug-in vehicle ownership stories from those who own and, of course, love their plug-ins.

Chevy Volt

Chevy Volt

But lost in most of those tales is the Chevy Volt.

Since the Chevy Volt (along with all of the other EREVs/PHEVs) itself doesn’t require that you make a grand leap to only using electricity, the tale of Volt ownership is often less dramatic than say the Nissan LEAF owner who runs out of charge or who gripes of the lack of availability of public chargers.  That’s not to say that all LEAF owners (and all other BEV owners) have grand tales to tell, but the ones that typically make waves in the media are the stories where something goes awry.

This lack of drama is no reason to overlook the Volt though, so here we present a year of owning a Chevy Volt.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek recently posted this Giga OM exclusive and though the story doesn’t hold any real surprises, it jives with what hundreds of Volt owners have told us.

*Below is a portion of the text.  The full article can be found by following the source link further down the page:

“It’s hard to believe that it was a year ago when we added a Chevy Volt to our garage. A key factor in that decision was that we were generating excess electricity from the 41 solar panels we put on our house in 2011. With a year of driving and the odometer just over 15,000 miles, would I change that decision? Not for a second.”



“…I mentioned prior that we’re the perfect target audience for a Chevy Volt. Why is that? Because we both work from home so there’s no lengthy commute. And when we do have to drive, most of our trips fall into that range of 40 miles or less, meaning we can get around without using gas on most days.”

“…Overall, 61 percent of our total miles have been on electricity.”

“The average Volt owner typically fuels up every 900 miles or so. In one extreme case this summer, we went just over three months and 2,528 miles on a single tank of gas! It’s pretty amazing when you think about it, but again our driving habits fit this type of vehicle. If you have a 50-plus mile commute and no access to recharge a car at work, I wouldn’t recommend a Volt, although other electric vehicles offer more range that could work.”

“I can’t reinforce this one point enough: The Chevy Volt, or any electric car for that matter, isn’t a “one size fits all” solution that works for everyone. For multiple reasons, however, it works really well for us and the only car I can see replacing the Volt is either another Volt or similar plug-in car.”

Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Categories: Chevrolet


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14 Comments on "One Year of Owning a Chevy Volt"

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About a year ago, I also did a write up after having the Chevy Volt for TWO years. Days shy of three years now, I continue to love everything about it.

I think the Volt is one of the most mis-understood cars ever. It seems most of the general population does not understand how it is different from a Prius or a Leaf. Also most people don’t realize how inexpensively one can be leased.

We have a 2012 model and I believe it is one of the greatest cars ever made.

Definitely true. It’s such a paradigm shift that most people cannot understand it until they live it for a while. So many people are put off by the 38 mile AER, without realizing that they only drive maybe 25-30 miles on a typical day. Or they fret over the 4 hour charging time, without thinking about recharging while they sleep and waking up to a full battery.

It certainly doesn’t help that the Volt and Leaf were both released in the same month (Dec 2010), and most people still confuse the technologies today.

I think the outgoing GM CEO should take much of the blame. He was – how to put it – not exactly a pro-EV chap.

The Nissan analogy is apt. Each sold roughly the same number of cars in the US (the Volt more, but many of those are reported to have been government fleet etc.).
But Nissan went out of its way to turn the Leaf into an brand flagship, It issues press releases about every local market in which the Leaf is their #1 brand, and so forth.

By comparison, GM management has left the Volt to fend for itself. In 2012 when we leased our Leaf, a neighbor (with solar panels, like this post’s author) tried to lease a Volt. The local GM dealers were boneheadedly stingy with him, so he gave up. Over at Nissan, the dealerships fell over each other to offer us the best deal possible at the time.

I hope the new GM CEO changes this, and also starts pushing the Spark EV nationwide.

I think the biggest marketing problem was the outright retarded smear campaign from the GOP and right wing media. Never have I seen so many people have such a vested interest in seeing the US fail.

That aside, I really wish GM (and Nissan, for that matter) pushed for more performance. That’s how you capture the imagination of the public.

Not True. Atkerson was very strong supporter of the Volt, and was a Volt owner himself.


I now have 19000 miles on my 2012 Volt in about 17 months of leasing. I love almost every thing about it. I’m just kicking myself for only getting a 12k miles/yr lease as I can easily put 15-18k miles/yr at my current rate of 94% electric. I have at-work charging ability and 240v home charging so I can drive up to about 60 miles per day on battery power.

Here’s my 2 year Volt review summarizing all the numbers, costs etc….


I like the Volt… but because of a cramped cabin… and to actually drive something significantly different from a plug in Prius… I chose the Nissan. So far so good. What I fail to understand is the denial about the gas engine and the physical connection to the wheels. The car is a hybrid… the gas engine and the electric motor can drive the wheels.

I was stunned at the SF Car show that the Sales person refused to acknowledge the connection. GM continues to try to paint it as an EV which it is to a similar degree as a Prius. Both are great cars. I want all the cars that use any electric propulsion to succeed but can’t we just get the definitions straight.

That new BMW i3 is truly range extended… you run outa battery and you cannot run. Their gasoline booster only charges the battery and must start early on long trips to stay ahead of need. The Volt has no such limit. The gasser can kick in and still get you there with fuel even if the EV battery is empty.

my 2 cents.

Here is a bit of an article from cnet ( describing the situation nicely. The engine doesn’t drive the wheels very often. It’s closer to pure electric than it is to a Prius. We received a call back from GM to one of our inquiries about the Chevy Volt powertrain. Chevy Volt Vehicle Line Director Tony Posawatz explains that the Volt’s 111 kilowatt electric traction motor is always driving the wheels of the car when it is in motion. Through testing, GM found that this motor became inefficient when spinning at high rpms, with the car running at 70 mph and above. To reduce wasted energy, GM relied on two strategies. When the battery has a usable charge, a second electric motor in the system delivers a boost to the planetary gearset, letting the traction motor, which still has the only mechanical connection to the wheels, reduce its speed by half. Similarly, when the batteries are depleted, the gas engine can take the role of that second electric motor when the car is being driven at speeds of 70 mph. Although mostly working as an electricity generator, it can add its own boost to the planetary gearset under these conditions… Read more »

The complaint is somewhat dated at this point: GM stopped Lieing about the Volt being a plug-in-hybrid over a year ago. Whether absolutely cause/effect or not, GM stopped Lieing when NY State refused to Grant the volt ‘totally electric car’ status. They must have realized the Jig is up.

It always seemed dumb to me to lie about it at the time. The car basically has a Japanese (at least in my 2011 model) SynergyDrive with a great warranty.

The Volt is a very good car, irrespective of GM’s silly marketing and engineering departments. Perhaps Barra can knock some heads together as Lutz had to do on occassion.

It nothing like the synergy drive have you looked at the or have you just said gas engine equals hybrid.

I’ve also owned a Chevy Volt for one year now…
I still feel like it’s my first car.
I’ve owned 18 cars in the last 40 years… the best that stand out are my V8’s with their smooth effortless power.
The Volt is better than any of them… the ride is unmatched in my experience.
The smooth effortless shiftless power is still a thrill every day. Much better than I could imagine. I rented a EV1 at LAX in 2000 and wanted a EV ever since… the Volt has proven to be the best car I’ve ever owned and very .. very inexpensive to run and reliable.
Total cost of fuel and maintenance for one year was less than $275.
The wattmeter tells me I’m spending 70cents per day on electric and I used only 5.8 gallons of gas in a year until the car said it was going to run the generator so the gas does not go stale. I filled up for the first time in a year in front of the local TV station camera. KDKA dec 5 did a spot on my car going to the gas station for the first time.
It’s fun having the feeling back from my first car.

Great that the Volt is working out for the author, and it was clearly a good purchase for them, in the important context of versus a typical ICE-only car. In a more minor context, despite having clearly thought about the possibility of a BEV, it isn’t clear whether they could or could not have benefited even more from a BEV (the 39% of miles on gas may have been on slightly longer trips of 50-60 miles for which a bigger battery would suffice, or on just a couple really long interstate drives for which a rental car would suffice).