Electric cars are not all that different from the gasoline-powered vehicles a vast majority of Americans drive. You turn a key — or nowadays press a button — to get it started, you put the transmission in gear and press the accelerator and brake as necessary. The major differences begin to be noticed in the sounds you hear and the distances you can travel.
For drivers in states like Arizona, the driving distance of an electric vehicle can be a deal breaker. Unlike East Coast cities, which have a more centralized population, the urban core in the western cities of Tucson and Phoenix is spread-out. Visiting a friend across town can feel more like a road trip, and as the price of gas continues to rise, fuel efficient vehicles are increasingly in demand. Dealers around the country including Midway Chevrolet in Tucson in Arizona, offer a good selection if you’re on the hunt. Consumers often compare a variety of fuel-efficient vehicles before deciding.
Ahead of its Time
One of the first electric cars produced and driven by a significant number of people in America was the Sebring-Vanguard CitiCar produced between 1974 and 1977. The CitiCar ran strictly on deep-cycle golf cart batteries with no gasoline backup engine. These vehicles, produced in response to fuel shortages at the time, had a range of about 30-40 miles, depending on the temperature and terrain.
One of the advantages of the CitiCar was that you could charge the batteries in any standard 110-volt outlet in a home or garage. Top speeds for the car maxed out at about 40 miles per hour, while creating no direct pollution. A moving CitiCar barely made any noise at all, which made it somewhat of a hazard for pedestrians crossing streets.
Drive Greater Distances
Modern electric cars, such as the Chevrolet Volt, not only have electric power produced by a battery system, but also a 9-gallon gasoline generator, which takes over once the battery power is depleted. Like the CitiCar, the Volt is very quiet and smooth when driving. However, that is where the similarities end. A fully charged Volt, along with a full tank of gas, can easily get you 400 miles or more, again depending on the terrain.
Owners speak frequently about their cars bringing a lot of attention from curious onlookers who’ve never seen a Volt or any electric vehicle up close. Rick DeMeis wrote on the Electronic Engineering Times website that people will frequently ask: “What’s the mileage” and “how does it drive?” He also noted that the Volt can be charged with regular 110-volt power, but takes twice as long — up to 10 hours — to fully charge the unit, as opposed to about four or five hours with a 220-volt charging unit.
A Futuristic Feel
A video on YouTube posted by a user named “tempamatic” shows a test-drive of the Volt, including the push-button’s virtually silent starting process. The high-tech dashboard contains several meters telling the driver how much power the batteries have, the miles per gallon they are getting and of course a navigation system. The vehicle will even let you know you if you are accelerating or braking too aggressively and depleting your battery faster than you otherwise would.
It is difficult to find any negative comments about the drivability and gas mileage from actual owners of the Chevy Volt. Virtually all of them are proud and sometimes even defensive of the vehicle. The smooth, unique ride and positive reviews given by so many owners should ultimately allow onlookers to see more and more Volts as the years go by.