Electric or Gas?

Do you think about getting an electric car as your next car purchase? I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. Especially after the gas prices were over a dollar a litre (which I realize was a while ago). But it really started to hurt when it was averaging or exceeding $1.25 per litre. As much as I love my car for it versatility for traveling, moving and chauffeuring the kid (and dogs) around, it has a 50 litre tank (Honda 2005 Element) and it’s not the most fuel efficient (no aerodynamic). It can cost me well over C$60 to fill the tank.

I don’t profess myself an expert about cars. I’m just a person who needs one and drives one. As far as I know, Hybrids, are the more common ‘electric’ cars on the market. Almos all car brands have at least one model that is a Hybrid. Chevy, has this [not so new] Volt, and electric car that has the option of gas. It’s like the duel fuel stove … no! It’s nothing like that…

Anyhow, GM was kind enough to let me test drive their Volt for a week. I happen to get it the week that I was headed up to Ottawa for Social Capital Conference May 31-June 1st with a detour to Montreal.

volt8

As you can imagine, with any new car, it drives quiet smoothly. I’d like to tell you that you can go from 0 to 60 km/hr in X-amount of seconds, but what this car teaches you is that if you ease your startup and braking, you don’t use much power/gas, therefore you’re being energy efficient. With an elaborate dashboard panel advising you of what is happening in the car plus your surroundings, you can keep informed while you drive.

volt5

A fully charged car, it can travel about 60km, which is good for your daily commute to work. It’s most efficient running exclusively on electric as long as you’re driving under 80 km/hr. Once you’re on the highway, you’d need to put the battery on ‘hold’ and it will run on the gas engine, which is a 30 litre tank.

volt2
volt3

With this charger, it plugs right into a regular household 110 volt plug. It can take up to 8 hrs to charge it fully from empty. There’s also options to set the car to time of day (so that you can charge during low peak time). If you install a 220 volt plug at your home, it will take less time to complete the charge.

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All in all, I really liked the car and I’d strongly consider it as top of my list of next car to buy.

Pros:

• Total [Premium] gas purchase: $60 = 1 week’s worth of driving around Toronto, to & around Montreal, to & around Ottawa, and back to Toronto again.

• Taught me that I have a heavy foot when driving, and I learnt quickly how to be more gas/energy efficient.

• Roomy trunk considering it’s a sports car

Cons:
• Little leg room in the back seat. Only enough for my kid to sit comfortably in the back

• Shape of the back window was difficult to look out of through the rear view mirror

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Social Capital Conference and GM Canada

Social Capital Conference, Ottawa July 23rd, 2011

Social Capital Conference was last weekend, and the first of it’s kind in the Ottawa area. It was well organized, had amazing food, and some great sponsors.

Although it was Chevy that was one of the sponsors of the conference, I should thank GM Canada  for the vehicle that I drove up to the conference (from Toronto). I was loaned a Buick Regal Turbo to drive for the weekend.

[Review] This is not your grandfather’s car anymore. With plenty of leg room in both the front and back seats, they have made this model sportier than I remember the Regal to be from 20+ years ago.

We only had the car for a weekend, so we didn’t have a lot of baggage. But the truck had plenty of room for 2-3 full size suitcases and a couple of carry-on bags. It also had a trap door to allow for skis to pop through to the back seat arm rest.

This fully loaded car had it all – from cruise control to fuel economy meter. The console had everything you needed to control the entertainment system (Radio and DVD player) and the navigation map. They were easy to reach for the driver. There was more than one place to access them. Some were on the steering wheel (answering/ending calls and volume control), while the others were below the gear shift box (which included switching display from navigation to audio). But if you didn’t want to use these controls, there was the voice commands. 

The voice control was quite intuitive. Connecting my iPhone via Bluetooth was very easy to do with a couple of verbal commands.

The interior had black leather seats. Which in the summer could be quite hot. But they clearly built this car well. Not only were the seats not hot after leaving the car for the pit stops, but the car cooled down quickly with their auto climate control.

 In terms of the design of the car, the only part that I feel was a bad choice by the designers is the chrome that they used around the gear shift box. With the sun that we had the whole weekend, I found myself having to cover it up with my sweater. I’m not sure if it was due to the position of my seat or my height, but it was quite annoying. The rest of the car had a brushed metal or pewter finish, so had they used that finish, I think that it would have accomplished the same effect without the blinding glare.

My only other complaint is that I couldn’t use the navigation map independently from the audio/music. It’s possible that the radio could be turned off, but I couldn’t figure it out.

Nonetheless, this is a great car to take a family of 3 or 4 on a road trip. It was a smooth ride and with the turbo, I’m sure that I was well over the speed limit (shhhh… don’t tell the cops).

Buick Regal Review – This is not a paid posting. I was loaned the Buick Regal from GM for 5 days for a test drive.

My next test drive will be the GMC Acadia from Toronto to Montreal for #LeTweetup in late August

GO Train

 

My daughter had said to me that she has gone on most forms of travel (plane, boat, bus, and car). And she said that the train would be the only one that she hasn’t been on yet (and she didn’t count being on the subway). So I needed to go to Oshawa to pick up a car from GM Canada for my weekend test drive. I figure that this is a great opportunity for my daughter to ride a train.

We fully embraced public transportation that day. We walked to the subway station, took it down to Union train station (with minutes to spare) and switched onto the GO Train. The added bonus to this experience was that the trains are double deckers. So needless to say that we sat up top.

It was definitely a fun thing to do with my daughter during her summer break.