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Electric cars charging into area

POSTED: January 25, 2012 11:44 a.m.
Photo by Randy C. Murray/

GM dealer Mike Reed shows the charging portal on a Chevy Volt.

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A new electric car has a way to lessen “range anxiety,” and maybe help convince the skeptics.
The Chevrolet Volt — now available nationwide after a four-state rollout — can be driven 35 miles on a full charge for its 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The Volt also has a 9.6-gallon gas generator that produces electricity and allows you to drive up to 375 total miles, said Mike Reed, owner of Mike Reed Chevy in Hinesville.
“The gas generator relieves what has come to be called ‘range anxiety,’” explain Reed, who’s worked in the car business for more than 32 years. “Totally electric cars like the Nissan LEAF are limited by the number of miles they can drive on a full battery. For example, if I want to drive a Volt to Jacksonville, I know I can drive at least 35 miles before the generator will come on to power the car the rest of the way and back. With a totally electric car though, I may get somewhere beyond Brunswick then I’ll have to stop the car and let it charge up, or else I’ll wind up stuck on the side of the road, probably before I can get to Florida.”
Critics say the Volt is not as efficient as all electric cars, but Reed asserted that no vehicle is totally pollution free.
For example, when an electric car dies on the side of the road in Japan, a large truck with a diesel generator is sent out to charge it back up. Reed said the little bit of gas he may occasionally use to drive a Volt outside of town leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than the diesel generator of a big truck.
Reed said his dealership has several Volts, but said they’re not selling the way he’d prefer, if only because local residents don’t know enough about the Volt to check it out and test drive one.
Reed said the Volt comes with a choice of two charging stations. The 120-volt charging kit connects to a home outlet and can complete a charge in 8-10 hours, depending on the outdoor temperature. The optional 220-volt charging kit can complete a charge in four hours. The cost of a full charge is estimated at about $1.50.
Reed said he drives a Volt to and from work, rarely drives it long distances and almost never stops for gas.
“People will ask, ‘Does it drive like a golf cart?’ and I’ll tell them, ‘Sure, a golf cart that can drive 100 miles per hour,’” said Reed. “It’s such a cool feeling to hear the silence of the electric engine and yet feel all that power when you accelerate.”
The Volt has no transmission, but Reed said drivers gets “instantaneous torque” when they hit the accelerator. In fact, the Volt can go from zero to 60 mph in less than nine seconds and can reach a test track speed of 100 mph.
Reed said the Volt also has energy-saving features such as the gas tank’s pressurized fuel system, regenerative brakes and an efficiency gauge that lets drivers know when they’re accelerating too fast or hitting the brakes too hard.
“It’s a way of training you to be a better, more energy-efficient driver,” he said.
Volt owners also can program its charging schedule with a smart phone, he said. According to its website,www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car, the Volt includes several special safety features like a rear camera system, traction control, eight airbags, a high-strength steel frame and On/Star Command.
The Volt is a four-passenger sedan that Reed said sells for about $31,600 after a federal $7,600 tax credit incentive. For more information about the Chevy Volt, call 876-2121. For information about the Nissan LEAF, call 368-1680.

 

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