Text Size AAA
Jun 6, 2012

RMI Takes the Volt For a Spin


For a week last month, RMI had an unexpected visitor to our Boulder office—a Chevy Volt courtesy of a Project Get Ready partner! Curious RMIers took this opportunity to take the car for a test drive.

Here’s what they had to say about their driving experience:

Virginia Lacy, Electricity Senior Consultant

“The pick up on the highway was unreal. Other than that, it was pretty much like driving any other car.”



Jamie Moir, Internet Marketing Manager 

“Overall, I really liked the car and would consider purchasing one. The interior was nice and spacious. You could easily fit a family of four in the car. It has a big trunk with room to haul stuff around. At first the lack of noise from an engine is hard to get used to, but after a few minutes I adjusted. The car had great pick-up even going up through the foothills.

The only critique I have is they need to simplify the dashboard. It was too high-tech. Just because the car is running on a forward-thinking technology doesn't mean it has to have a futuristic dashboard.  Other than that it was good.”

Rebecca Cole, Director of Communications

"Wow, the car of the future really looks...futuristic! The dash has a lot going on, with a bouncing ball when I revved the engine (wasting energy!) and colorful charts ripped from PowerPoint that tell exactly how and where the energy is used in the vehicle. Now, should I watch that or keep my eyes on the road? I drive a Subaru, which I love. It's my third one. Why can't I just have an electric Subaru? My car of the future looks like a Subaru, drives like one, rides like one—but the difference is, it's electric and I charge it up at home.

As soon as car manufacturers figure this out, and not try to make EVs only as funky, whiz-bang little cars, they'll sell more EVs."

Robert Hutchinson, Managing Director

 “The Volt was reasonably peppy and easy to drive but had poor storage and overall likely more car than I need vs. a Leaf or Prius plug-in—or even a straight hybrid.  I do not have a range problem, so the Volt solves a problem I do not have.”


Ben Holland, Project Get Ready Program Manager

“I spent a full week driving the car and was sad to see it go. Most of the conversation about electric cars tends to address their relationship to environment, oil dependency, or economic issues. But when you get down to it, they’re just great cars and a pleasure to drive.”


Brendan O’Donnell, Electricity Analyst

“The first thing I noticed in driving the Volt was, well, absolutely nothing. It turned on, drove like a normal car, and got me where I needed to go. And, as someone who couldn't give a crap about cars, that's perfect.”



Martin Walaszek, Interactive Producer & Web Marketing Manager

"It felt like the future today ... but more to the point, as a car guy, all I could think about was the hot-rodders who will figure out how to make these things go even faster."


Kelly Vaughn, Senior PR Coordinator

 I’m based in our Snowmass office so I didn’t get to drive the Volt myself (although I’m tempted to hop in Amory Lovins’s loaner currently charging in front of his passive solar home).

But, earlier this month at the EVS26 Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles, I took full advantage of the “Electric Avenue” driving station where I took at plug-in Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf for a ride. My experience was similar to that of my colleagues—besides the incredible acceleration, and the lack of engine noise, it surprisingly felt like driving any other car.  View more photos from EVS26 on Facebook.

So, the ultimate question is: Will exposing more people to electric cars increase sales? Is increased awareness the first step in building a stronger base of EV advocates?

Now, we want to hear from you. Have you driven an electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle? What are your thoughts? Have you considered purchasing one? If not, what is holding you back? Let us know by commenting below!

Highlighted Resource

Reinventing Fire: Transporation

See the Reinventing Fire Transportation video featuring RMI Experts. Watch Now

RMI Visits Volt Factory

A “Glimpse of the Best and Latest” in U.S. Auto Manufacturing. Read More


Showing 1-6 of 6 comments

June 14, 2012

Hi! My partner and I have been driving a RAV4EV for the past 10 years. We also have a an Hymotion-converted 2004 Prius plug-in extended range electric vehicle (PHEV).

We love them both, but the RAV4EV has ben stellar. 106,000 miles without a hitch, and and a savings of over $15,000 in gasoline (compared to a gasoline vehicle that gets 23 MPG), and many tons of CO2 saved (especially since much charging is done on a 5kWh PV system at home).

We've signed up for a Tesla Model S, so to say that we're 'sold' on EVs would be an understatement.

While the Model S is a splurge, the money savings alone should be reason enough for the average person to want to find an alternative to gasoline-only transportation.


Kelly and Martha
RMI National Solutions Council members since 2005

June 15, 2012

I'm planning a trip to Cleveland in Sept. Try as I may, I couldn't find a Volt or PI-Prius to rent during my visit. In fact, I've had to go directly through a Toyota dealer just to find a hybrid! I think if the manufacturers were serious about developing this market they would be falling all over themselves to make Plug-Ins available to the renting public.

As for Leaf like vehicles, they are for commuting and other local uses, at a fourth the operating cost of an ICE. Let's quit trying to make them our vacation go-to-the-beach cars. I can always rent an ICE when I need one for such occasional use.

June 15, 2012

We have 2 Volts, both charged off our grid tie solar system. The cost to drive is virtually free as we have reached our ROI on that system. Just think of the amount of OPEC oil we could stop importing, the amount of CO2 we could stop producing and the amount of money you can keep in your pocket.

Both Volts have been rock solid performers, absolutely no issues at all. The wife has never bought gas for hers driving on only electric and dealer provide fuel. Lifetime on both is 250+ mpg. Quite impressive.

June 15, 2012

What's holding me back?

1. A hybrid is not a sound economic proposition with respect to fuel consumption because the difference in price for the car is greater than the savings in fuel consumption.

2. Purely electric cars are still too expensive for my wallet.

3. Charging stations are too few and far between and a recharge takes too long for any kind of distance driving. Because I can afford to own and operate only one car, an electric must serve for both short and long distance driving. A possible solution to the charging problem is to have drive in stations where the entire battery pack is swapped out for a freshly charged one. The operators of these stations will own the battery and that cost can be deducted from the cost of the car, making them affordable. All that is needed is to standardize the design and location of the battery pack for all electric cars. Why should this be objectionable? One does not now have to find a gas station with a gas pump nozzle that matches the diameter of the filler tube in one's car.

I'd love to own an electric car. I first drove one in 1980 when the U. S. Electric Car Company in Athol, MA was modifying Renault's "Le Car" into an electric vehicle. The silence alone sold me, much less the low operating cost.

Barry Lockard

June 15, 2012

I have had my Volt for over 8 months now and just love the car. In the 8500 miles I have put on the Volt, over 90% of that is purely electric. I have used less than 25 gallons of gas in that 8 month period and am over 340 MPG.

I also like the fact that the Volt does not limit me like other EVs would. Yesterday, I had to make an unexpected trip from Fort Collins to Denver and back. This 135 mile round trip is not possible on many EVs like the Leaf but on the Volt, the trip never crossed my mind.

Many have said that EVs are just to expensive. With the Federal tax credit of $7500 and Colorado state tax credit of $6000, that brought my Volt's total cost down close to the national average for new cars. Being that the Volt drives more like a Mercedes C class, BMW 3 series or Volvo S80, and is finished more like a Cadillac than a Chevy, I could not be happier with my less expensive and much greener Volt.

July 16, 2012

I just drove a silver Volt with the black cloth seats and a white center console/display. The Volt uses the Cruze platform so it is smaller inside than the Avalon, like a cockpit. The front pillars are thick and contain air bags. Visibililty is OK, but you have to use both outside mirrors. This model had the rear camera for $695 that could be useful. It also has proximity sensors, but doen’t have an automatic parking mode. Both displays are pretty cool, but complicated. It will take some getting used to. A detailed manual comes with the car. The emergency brake was, not on the floor but on the dash!

The car drives nice and is really quiet. It has 3 performance modes; normal, mountain and sport. I liked the regenerative braking and the visual on the center display. The sound system was good. It has 40/40 split rear seats with a gap in the middle.

The hatchback rear opening doesn’t come down flush with the rear floor like a Subaru. The rubber front air dam extends down below the standard Cruze plastic air dam. It scraped driving out of the parking lot. The low ground clearance and no AWD limits winter driving and use for cross country skiing. What about the Volt MPV5 crossover?

Joe Day Boulder, Colorado

PAGE: 1 
Show Subscribe