I had the pleasure of meeting Chuck and Dawn Soule several months ago while I was admiring their electric car.
When asked, “Why did you pick this car?” I got the kind of logical, precise answer that you would expect from a person who spent a career in the military. Chuck started out by saying they looked at a Toyota Prius Hybrid because a friend of theirs had one. Hybrids use a gasoline motor and a battery with electric motor to improve overall efficiency or miles per gallon.
Hybrid vehicles automatically determine when the battery should be charged or used to power the car and when the gasoline engine should be used. The battery is only charged when the gasoline engine is running. Dawn chimed in that being made in America was very important to her so they naturally took a look at the Chevrolet Volt, it’s a plug-in hybrid.
In this type of car the driver can select the power source. These cars can use the battery to drive the car without the gasoline engine running and the battery can be charged by plugging into an ordinary household outlet.
In short, the difference between a hybrid and plug-in hybrid is the ability to charge the battery from an outlet and being able to select use of the battery for powering the car. They also considered the Nissan Leaf, which is an all-electric car, which uses a battery for power and does not have a gasoline engine connected with it at all. Charging is accomplished at public chargers or at home. In the end they chose the Chevrolet Volt.
When asked about what they don’t like about this car, it was pretty interesting because they have concerns about the very attribute they like the most; electric drive is so quiet! Dawn is worried about pedestrians, children and small animals not being able to hear the Volt.
She did point out that their car has a pedestrian horn which is softer and more gentle but still warns people that you’re coming up behind them. Chuck said that he was a little disappointed at the lack of public charging stations outside the Wenatchee area. He is quite proud of the fact that while they have 22,900 miles on their car they have driven 15,799 in all electric mode.
They both have enjoyed talking with others about the benefits of their electric car. Dawn said people seem totally amazed when they talk about the efficiency, the quietness, the comfortable ride and of course its very sporty styling. My guess is that getting 109 miles per gallon adds to their amazement!
Chuck pointed out that he has enjoyed helping Plug-In North Central Washington with the different displays and activities they have sponsored to promote electric vehicles and EV tourism. The question they get asked the most about driving an EV; “… can you actually go 60 miles an hour with this car?” To which they answer, “top speed is about 100.”
Jack Anderson is a volunteer Project Manager for Plug-In NCW. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org