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The Best-Loved Car in the World

I’m feeling missionary tendencies these days. I have found love and I want to share it with the world. As I travel around I keep my eyes open for people who share my beliefs, scanning their cars for signs that they are part of my flock. When I see them, I say a silent “Good On Ya!” I pray for the hordes of unenlightened people, still laboring in darkness, driving conventional internal-combustion automobiles.

bryan welch with chevy voltI think everyone should have a Chevy Volt.

I was gratified when, two weeks ago, Consumer Reports announced that the Chevy Volt was the best-loved car in the world among people who drive one – for the second year in a row. I felt gratified, but not surprised. I got my own Volt in August. I have never loved a car like I love this one.

And I have loved some cars.

There was my rusty, shag-carpeted 1969 Toyota Land Cruiser, vessel of my teen-age dreams. Then I had a 1967 Dodge Power Wagon crewcab pickup. Best truck ever.

A decade ago I developed an obsession with Audis. I blush. They weren’t the most reliable cars; they weren’t the most fuel-efficient; they weren’t the most affordable. They just felt so, so good. They’re pretty, too. If you love driving, don’t get in one. Stronger men than me have fallen.

Then I met the Volt and it won my heart.

And my head.

I’ve had mine for four months. Symmetrically, over the course of 7,760 miles I’ve averaged 77.6 miles per gallon of gasoline.

Personally, I sacrificed nothing to achieve this efficiency. The car and I took long interstate trips. I habitually drive eight miles per hour over the speed limit. Mea Culpa. In town, I set the Volt for “Sport” mode and myself for “Mild Adrenaline.”

In my normal routine of errands and commuting, I use no gasoline at all. When I go a little too far, like my 110-mile round-trip to the airport, I need the gasoline motor’s assistance to recharge the batteries.

Yet in spite of my lack of personal effort, my fuel savings made my lease cheaper than a sub-compact. Look at the math:

The average passenger car sold in the U.S. in 2011 got about 34 miles per gallon on the highway. So if I had driven 7,800 miles in an average car, over the last four months, I would have burned 229 gallons of gasoline. At $3 per gallon, that’s a cost of about $688. Instead, I burned about 100 gallons of gasoline and $10 worth of electricity. So I’m saving $90 a month in fuel costs compared with an average car, or 25 percent of my lease payment. With the tax incentive and the fuel savings, the Volt’s lease now actually costs me about the same as a typical lease on a $20,000 new car, or maybe less.


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