I’ve been studying so-called “green” cars for a number of years now. Recently, a friend of mine from New York stayed with us and brought his Tesla he’d driven across the country, charging every “step” of the way. (He writes about electric vehicles, or EVs.)
He’d suggested a Chevy Volt as an affordable compromise for someone who wants to have all electric power for a substantial number of miles — while still having gasoline power backup. More about that shortly.
A couple of days ago, I had an epiphany as I was fueling up my old Honda Accord (which still runs fine) at a local gas station. A huge gasoline tanker truck was pulling in — it was at least five cars long. I’ve often thought hauling gasoline from refineries hundreds if not thousands of miles in these trucks is the craziest way to keep cars and other vehicles on the road. Do you?
Plus I just read that heavy trucks like it move 70 percent of the freight hauled on the nation’s highways, and get only 6.4 miles per gallon average — only an improvement of 0.9 mpg over the past 45 years. (The Wall Street Journal, June 20-21). Crazy gets crazier. And don’t get me started about our dependence on oil.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Tribune
I’ve always thought there has to be a better way, and it is true that there is a concerted effort to start powering these trucks with natural gas — FedEx does so now. But what a waste hauling gasoline to service stations, and eating up this fuel at such a low mpg.
I “invented” the “garage filling station,” which you can see at my site greenestcar.com. The site is not current, but you get the idea. There are multiple ways you can fuel a car that aren’t gasoline powered.
EVs can be charged using solar panels. I developed an inexpensive garage-headquartered small solar electric system (powerfromsun.com) that just sits there for lack of a vehicle to charge. (It’s not really being marketed yet).
The Chevy Volt sounds just like the ticket. The lithium batteries in it will allow the vehicle to go at least 35-40 miles on a full charge, which would get you to San Luis Obispo for shopping, etc. (There is an onboard generator that charges the batteries as you drive, but it’s gasoline powered). The gasoline backup would get you another 350 or so miles. It promises to be a great all around vehicle — and give GM credit for saving face from their disastrous “EV-1” debacle 15 years or so ago — the cars were taken off the road from happy leasers and actually crushed so GM wouldn’t have to maintain them!
Imagine, with the Volt you could travel to SLO and back, charging for the return trip at one of the several charging stations there (or at a private residence) and never use gasoline — but it’s there if you need it. (By the way, gasoline prices may be down, but I wouldn’t bet they will stay there forever).
My wife likes the look of the Volt. I’ve rarely seen one locally for some reason. New they cost $35,000 (minus rebates), but they have been manufactured now since 2011, and are starting to be sold used for $12,000 to $15,000.
New ones are leasable, but I feel confident enough in the technology now to buy one outright (used). They have most of modern cars’ bells and whistles, and I think GPS.
We own an original Honda Accord Hybrid and my old Honda Accord, which I must get rid of to justify getting the Volt (no extra parking space). But I think those tanker trucks are the epiphany that will get my butt in gear to get a “new” car, and finally an EV.
Any takers for a perfectly good running Honda Accord around $2,000? (Hey, it’s the epitome of a recycled car.)