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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

An Owner’s Perspective

Apr 16, 2013 12:09PM ● By Beth Davis

 

John McVicker first became interested in electric vehicles (EV) in 2007, while RC (radio-controlled) car racing with his son, Adam. The scale model cars powered by small but powerful electric motors left him curious about what was being done on a larger scale. He began doing some research and discovered a website with information about the Chevrolet Volt concept car, which made its debut at the January 2007 North American International Auto Show, becoming the first-ever series plug-in hybrid concept car shown by a major car manufacturer.

Although it was just a concept car at the time, it peaked his interest and he followed its progress until its official debut in late 2010. McVicker says he was a fan before it had even hit the road. “I had done enough research that I knew what to expect,” he says. “Everything about it just made sense in terms of energy efficiency. It was almost like an RC car in real life.”

He knew he wanted to purchase the EV, but he also knew it had to be the right time. “It was a new model in late 2010 so everybody following it wanted it,” he explains. “I wanted to wait it out, get some feedback on its quality and make a plan.” So, that’s exactly what he did.

McVicker bought his 2011 Chevy Volt in July 2012 after a nearly year-long budgeting process to try to find the best deal possible. And he saved a bundle. The car he purchased retailed for $44,000 and he paid $25,000 (after rebates). How did he do it? He says that the first thing he did was get a General Motors credit card that earned him 5 percent cash back toward vehicle purchases. Over the course of one year, he was able to accumulate $1,000. He also received a flier from his GM card offering an additional $1,500 off the price of a car.

He got a federal tax credit of $7,500, a $3,500 rebate from the state of Pennsylvania and because he purchased the car in 2012, the dealer knocked $5,000 off the price of the 2011 model. That’s a savings of $19,000. McVicker says, “Today, Chevy offers some really good deals for leasing a Volt.”

Named Motor Trend’s 2011 Car of the Year. The Volt is a four-seat, four-door hatchback with a lithium-ion battery pack that can power the cars 149-horsepower electric motor by itself for an estimated 40 miles in the city. McVicker has reached up to 49 miles on a charge. After that, the gasoline-powered inline-4 engine primarily supplies electricity to the motor for as many as 300 additional miles. The battery can be charged by plugging it into a 120- or 240-volt residential electrical outlet using the charging cord that is provided—no external charging station is required.

As a member of a computer consulting company, McVicker says that he drives from 7 to 70 miles to appointments and needs a car that will get him to both, and the Volt delivers. “I can travel 140 miles and burn very little gasoline—maybe one-and-a-half gallons—and it costs about $1.50 in electricity for those 140-mile days,” he notes. Some places even have plug-ins so that he can recharge, if necessary. McVicker also says that more people will consider buying EVs and plug-in hybrids once workplaces start to offer plug-in options for them.

McVicker adds that it also feels good on the road. “The drive is not only quiet, but smooth,” he says. “I have no complaints.”

Some EV and Volt owners also are supplementing their electricity use with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, and McVicker is no exception. In December, he added an entirely USA-made 8KW solar array to his home to drop his family’s electricity usage per month and at the same time he “fuels at home” with American-made energy.

Although EVs have not been without some controversy over the years, McVicker encourages others to take a closer look at EVs and plug-in hybrids and understand the difference between political myth and fact. “It was incredibly disheartening that many of our country’s politicians made this transformative locally-made vehicle a political football,” he said.

“I like that the Chevy Volt is an American car made by an American car company,” he says. “According to a Computerworld.com article from September of 2012, General Motors is insourcing the majority of its IT work to a new innovation center and hiring 500 IT positions in Austin TX. I feel good about buying a vehicle that supports American jobs and American energy. The car saves us money on gas, it’s roomy, quiet and safe. I couldn’t be happier. My wife is considering getting one for herself this year. We’ll be looking for a good deal, of course.”

For more information, McVicker recommends GM-Volt.com, Insideevs.com and GreenCarReports.com.

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