The Chevy Volt is back in the news, which is good for a car company trying to be a phoenix. The Volt is currently in testing, which is good. I fully expect that they will try to do an earlier release than their late 2010 time frame.

The car for those who don't know is a combination of a small engine and a battery pack. This is not a new or novel idea, but this design they have will likely out do the mileage of the Toyota Prius and similar models, while looking decidedly cool. While the methodology is in flux as it is sort of breaking new ground for the US EPA, you can read how they can claim the mind boggling 230 MPG. Yes it is more baloney, but there is some seasoning with the baloney. Read about how the Chevy Volt gets 230 MPG.

While the Volt is supposed to be able to go 40 miles on a charge, which is enough for about 75% of the populations normal commute. If you go over that, the small gas enging kicks on to produce electricity to power the vehicle. As many won't need that engine to run and can go from charge to charge with out gas they are able to claim a high fuel mileage. The practical reality I would guess is that the car will, given what I have read get somewhere combined in the 100 MPG range, which is twice most of the high efficiency cars on the market.

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The Volt will have a high price tag, but in retrospect $40,000 seems like alot of money, and is, but is not an out of sight price for a cool car. While the cool factor has to be balanced with practicality of who can afford to buy one, right? It is not like the Tesla roadster, another great electric car that costs in excess of $100,000, but it is getting the sizzle out in front of the steak. If something does not grab us, we won't buy it, even though we know it is good or the right thing to do.

I think all of us intrinsically know we need to get off the middle eastern tit of oil for the good of the earth and the economic viability of the United States. So the sooner that we all decide to take responsibility and start buying electric vehicles, a number of things will happen for the better:

  • New manufacturing and innovation gets spurred creating new jobs in the renewable energy sector
  • The need for increased refining capacity gets diminished- no one wanted new facilities anywhere
  • The lessened pollution and reduction that will eventually occur will increase the health of the planet and hopefully lessen the negative health aspects from all the carbon monoxide and soot particles in the air.
  • Homes will be built to have charging stations to support the new vehicles and will be zero sum

So one of the exciting things that I think will be forthcoming is the advent of the electric home that is all self generated. California is working on a bill to require all homes by 2020 be zero net energy. We can do it!

Energy reductions in buildings are an important component in getting our energy independence. A big part of the energy equation are buildings as well as homes, with U.S. buildings produce 48 percent of carbon emissions and consume 39 percent of total U.S. energy, according to Igor Mezic, head of the buildings and design solutions group at the Institute for Energy Efficiency.

We consume about 25% of the worlds produced oil, but only have about 3 % of it's reserves. In other words we are an easy energy hostage, economically speaking. Passenge cars use more than 40% of the oil consumed in the US. Americans spent 186 billion dollars last year on fuel. Imagine if we cut that in half with electric cars? I can see in the not too distant future where our homes are super efficient and generate their own electricity from solar systems or small residential wind systems. Our cars will be charged at home, we will have parking garages at work or car ports covered with solar panels that shade the cars and provide charging stations. The cities may get a tiny bit cooler. Ever wonder why grass is cool? It converts the solar energy in photosynthisis to energy. The pavement and driveways all just absorb the energy, whereas cooling charging stations have the dual benefit.

We have a real opportunity to wean ourselves off the oil and energy addiction we have with new jobs creation, a lessening of the oil consumption and a reduction in the hydrocarbon and other emmisions. The US has the skills, we just need government and industry leadership to head us on the right track. The Chevy Volt can be one such vehicle that will get us on the way. The Nissan Leaf will be a formidable competitor and will fill the lower end of the spectrum, probably in the $25,000 price range. It has some advantages over the Volt.

Nissan boasts of the higher mpg rating(the DOE formula estimates 367mpg compared to the 230 for the Volt) because its LEAF features a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery, while the Volt makes do with a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery. The bigger battery gives the LEAF a battery-only range of 100 miles compared to just 40 miles for the Volt. However, the Volt has the advantage of being able to rely on its generator to travel an additional 300 miles, which gives it an advantage. So the engineers are all working feverishly and hopefully we have some great vehicles to choose from. Speaking of choice, you can search on my other site for homes( for homes and on my other site, for property in Santa Cruz.

You can search for eco friendly homes and solar homes in Santa Cruz, California and be the first in your family to wone one. So you can be green, and drive green as well. Speaking of which how is your victory garden?