Bloomington, Indiana: Couple’s Chevy Volt will run on sunshine

Jim and Tomi Allison’s new Chevy Volt runs mostly on coal-powered electricity. But not for long.

When they install solar electric, aka photovoltaic (PV), panels behind their house, their car will be running on sunshine — mostly.

The car can travel 46 miles exclusively on its lithium ion battery, and after that, an on-board gasoline-powered generator kicks in to recharge the battery, extending the driving range to around 400 miles.

“There’s no range anxiety,” said Jim, an emeritus professor of psychology at Indiana University.

“This is a brilliant car,” he said. “GM has really wowed me with their engineering.”

They traded in a Prius and a Mazda MX5-Miata to buy the Volt, intending to simplify their lives by going from two cars to one.

He said the Volt is heavier than the Prius and feels more solid. He thinks it will handle winter driving conditions better. The Volt’s 1.4 liter engine has plenty of pickup and the car has lots of leg room and trunk space.

Jim admits the Mazda sports car was more fun to drive, but otherwise, he is very pleased with his new car.

The couple has had the Volt for not quite four months and put around 3,000 miles on it. Since short trips use no gasoline at all, the car is getting 85 miles per gallon.

Tomi, who was mayor of Bloomington from 1983 to 1995, makes several round trips to Nashville each week in the car completely on battery power.

“In theory, you could go forever without putting a drop of gas in the car,” Jim said.

He said he expects even higher mileage during the winter, since the couple will make fewer long-distance trips, and he forecasts a year-round average of 90 miles per gallon.

“They designed this car for everyday driving, and they hit the nail on the head,” he said.

Alex Jarvis, owner of Solar Systems of Indiana, is working with the Allisons as they plan their backyard power plant. They’ll soon install a 1 kilowatt system on the roof of a rear, second-floor bathroom, and then add three more units above a garden trellis in the back yard. The 4 kW system will produce and offset as much electricity as the Allisons use in their house — including recharging the car.

Jim said he looks forward to watching his electric meter run backward on bright, sunny days.

According to GM’s website, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of a bare-bones Volt is $39,145. But a $7,500 tax credit softens that, and with their two trade-ins, the Allisons paid around $9,000 for their new car.

Jarvis said the payback period for their rooftop solar system will be about 16 years, but less if electricity prices climb.

“Believe me, the government is helping out on this,” Jim said, noting that not only will he get a hefty tax credit on the car, the federal government also offers a 30 percent tax credit on the PV system.

He said he had toyed with the idea of installing a PV system for quite a while.

“This car incentivized me to get serious about it,” he said.

He did some other cost calculations: When they had two cars, the couple spent about $1,528 a year on gasoline. But with one car, a Volt, he expects that to drop to $736. He would expect to see $249 in higher electric bills each year to charge the car, but after the solar panels are installed, his electric bill will become negligible.

But Jim points to other cost savings: The couple is paying insurance, registration and maintenance for one car, not two. He says the Volt is a low-maintenance machine, requiring oil changes only every 7,500 miles.

And what is the uncollected dollar cost of the carbon emissions of gasoline-powered cars? When the Allisons take short trips in their Volt, their car has zero emissions.



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10 Responses to Bloomington, Indiana: Couple’s Chevy Volt will run on sunshine

  1. Citizen Harry says:

    What are the odds? An example of a practically zero emission vehicle, dependent ultra-minimally on coal or gas burning electrical plants, that real people have economically budgeted into their lives. The very thing that all the real smart, forward thinking Friends of Coal say is years in the future, not economical, and a silly tree-hugging LSD induced hallucination. Funny?!!! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. I am really laughing with joy at the prospect. I really am. This story alone proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the fossil fuel industry is gasping it’s last gasp as a guzzler. Burp.

  2. Walt says:

    Dream on Alice lol. The volt can only go 46 miles on a full charge, I guess that is great news if you stay within 20 miles of your home.

  3. Wade says:

    A typical reply from the dipstick who continues his Friends of Coal agenda on this blog. 45 miles is within the average of 16 miles per day American’s drive to their job. So in other words, if everyone had this type of technology at hand… the use of gasoline would drop significantly, pollution would drop significantly, and if they had a solar backup, use of coal fired electric plants would reduce significantly. When going beyond 45 miles, the gas motor kicks in to charge the system and get’s 85 miles per gallon.

    Now his next move will be to tell us how the Volt get’s less milage in the winter, especially in frigid conditions (an argument that is rapidly losing it’s validation since winters are warming so much). Or that there are problems finding a “plug in station” on the road. Or that there are government subsidies in place for GM, who was bailed out of bankruptcy. Or that there are government tax credits available to make the Volt or cars like it more affordable. Or that it’s not really feasible to many people in this country who drive 5 thousand dollar cars, or don’t drive at all.

    But all that being said, this Walt idiot can’t even admit when he’s got an answer to the question he always asks here. “What’s the alternative?”

    With this statement, he just (again) negated the fact that he actually might be in this blog for actual discussion. He continues to show that he’s a paid debunker, and one of his tasteless jobs in life is to put a dark cloud over anything but digging up coal, and pumping dangerous emissions into the atmosphere and water in order to keep the pockets of the bosses filled.

    Oh, he’ll tell me how full of crap I am, and jump up and down, and hold his breath, and have a hissy fit… I know. I can take it. Just don’t get your clothes dirty when you’re down on the floor kicking and screaming that someone actually answered one of your questions in a way you didn’t want them to. You are a true fraud and a decoy, Walt, just like your cronies in the oil, gas, and coal business.

    I can see why Citizen Harry ignores your existence now, you’re like a fart in the wind. A bad smell for a minute, but one that dissipates quickly when you look for any real substance. Just a short burst of smelly air.

  4. walt says:

    Right back at you Wade, your reply is a typical tree hugger response which as usual is not factual. First I seriously doubt that the average person only travels 16 miles to work each day. Secondly the Volt’s MPG rating is 37 not 85 as you want everyone to believe, if you don’t believe me refer to the Volt’s web site.

    Tell me Wade if the Volt is such a great car, then why are they halting its production during September? Could it be that only 125 were sold during the month of July?

    I didn’t know cold weather affected the Volt’s performance, then again I’ve not been keeping up with the Volt. I did hear something about the volt’s catching on fire, some when they were parked in the garage completely destroying several homes. I can see where having one parked in my garage would make me sleep better, wouldn’t it you?

    Wade, tell me are you employed by someone or are you self employed? If you work for someone else do you think of yourself as filling the pockets of your bosses?

    One more question Wade. Since it is obvious (according to you) that Harry is ignoring me. Are you man enough to fill in for Harry? I hope so.

  5. Citizen Harry says:

    LOL. Ok, I’ll break my silence. I have no interest in talking with a meme, paid pundit, sleeper agent, paid coal money pocketed voice, or just plain ignorant voice because there is no reckoning with you. It’s proven here, as I waited to reply to a post that answered your questions about (not specifically) ‘an alternative’. But you need to scrutinize the info, twist it, and fly your agenda again just mentioning it.

    So really, there is no need to reply to a tape machine playing Rush Limbaugh over and over and over again. I may as well piss into the wind.

    • Walt says:

      Why Harry, I knew you couldn’t stay in the shadows forever. Harry, do you ever look into a mirror after posting your little rants about me? I will admit that I am stubborn and set in my ways because I think I am right, just as you are stubborn and set in your way because you think you are right. You do realize that when you call me a meme, paid pundit, etc. that people on the other side of the argument are thinking the same thing about you. So you can call me whatever you want it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, it is just funny that you don’t realize that you are seen in the same light as I am.

  6. Wade says:

    I’m pretty aware, and have read the article. The point here is well made! Thank you! You’ve now shown even more how the general public cares nothing about where their energy comes from! And you can bitch all you want about how the government isn’t helping by trying out policies to try and foster that awareness. How horrid. To try to help people!

    I know, I know. Just suck it up that fossil fuels pollute, are expensive, and keep us at war, and others dependent on us. (That’s right dependent on us!) Who cares about the environment! Blow up those mountains! Fuck those hillbillies whose communities suffer from the coal industry. Fuck those people who’s well water is contaminated. Fuck them people who are sick and dying from being exposed to all that! What do we care if it’s not happening to us! Keep the lights on at any cost. Whoopee! No global warming! No consequences! Turn down the air conditioners, and turn up the heat. Fuck ’em! Right Walt!???

    Well, let me tell you something Walt. We that care about the environment, our health, and our future are not going to change our minds about fighting for a better energy future, no matter how much you whine, or debunk us, or jump up and down or hold your breath. Citizen Harry’s comment was that he was pointing out that the technology exists. Not that the Chevy Volt was the whole secret answer to the universe. If you’d put a tenth of the energy into actually having a positive voice, rather than being the voice of darkness and despair, you’d probably even see that we all are simple people trying to make our lives, and our kids and grandkids lives better. I’m pretty sick of your constant harassment of everyone, and your crappy ass negative attitude about things. You’re always bitching, and I’ve hardly ever read that you were sorry that people are dying, or sick, or that the mountains are being destroyed. So it frames you and your kind exactly as you are… a disgrace to humanity.

    The more you write, the more people with conscience and intelligence, and heart get encouraged. Because we can continue to see how hard the industry is trying to keep people enslaved to the grid. Go ahead. Keep up your rants. They’re sad and depressing, but somewhat entertaining on a Three Stooges kind of level.

    • Walt says:

      HEADS UP EVERYONE, the F-BOMBS are flying today. Gee, Wade dropping all of those F-BOMBS really brings out your intelligence level now doesn’t it? Let’s look at the facts, coal is burned cleaner than it ever has been in the past, and keep in mind that all of these coal miners that you claim are destroying our communities also live in these communities . Do you really think they would deliberately destroy their communities for the all mighty dollar? I have been in areas, before the first mining took place, where the water was undrinkable then, yet once the mining started people began claiming that the coal companies had destroyed the wells. Why didn’t they complain then, before the mining started? What about all of the straight sewer pipes that run into the streams? Why are they still allowed? What about all of the trash being dumped along the rural road sides that filter into the streams? Why don’t you travel these areas after heavy rains when you can see all of the trash and old diapers hanging from the tree limbs? I guess those are also the fault of the mean ole coal companies. Don’t give this mining makes people sick crap, if mining were making people sick don’t think the miners themselves would become sick before others, Don’t they both work and live in these same areas? Wade if it were not for coal there would have never have been an industrial revolution and we would not have the technologies we have today, nor would we have the health benefits we know today. So the fact is that coal extends lives not shortens them.

  7. Admin says:

    Note from Administrator: There was a recent post containing a plethora of foul language and personal attacks that crossed a line I try to keep on this blog. Again, I will say that you’re free to post, but please endeavor to keep your language to a degree of sensibility. I allow an occasional expletive when it is not directed as a personal insult, but I will not tolerate public personal attacks, and rampant name calling.

    As to Walt’s message to me this morning… no I do not edit the blog, and most of the time I post all comments, regardless of the content. I approved Wade’s message without reading it, and I apologize. I had some feedback almost immediately, and I deleted it right away. I’ll be more careful in the future. I should always read the posts. Again, I will not tolerate excessive language, or blatant attacks on this blog.

    I’ll ignore your comment that implies that I edit the content of the posts, or decide what will go up, and what will not. If I allowed my basic sense of human common decency to help me decide what is posted and what is not posted… well, let’s just say that some people that post here consistantly would be long gone. Sorry, but your re-posting of Wade’s comments will not be re-printed in your reply either.

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