It was encouraging to read a recent finding that Earth’s ozone layer is recovering due to an international effort to phase out harmful aerosols and refrigerants starting in the 1980s (“Ozone layer healthier due to ban on CFC’s,” Sept. 11, CDT). I’m hoping to read a similar headline 30 years from now about atmospheric carbon dioxide levels declining. That goal seems more attainable now that affordable all-electric plug-in vehicles are starting to show up on the market.
We recently purchased a 2011 Chevrolet Volt and couldn’t be more pleased with its performance and engineering. The Volt makes it possible to use no gasoline at all for in-town driving (we get about 38 miles of driving on the battery alone), but it also has a gasoline engine that charges the battery during longer trips. (The cost of replacing these eight-plus-year batteries is still unknown, but Nissan recently announced it will cost $5,500 to replace the Leaf’s larger battery.)
The Volt can go 350 to 400 miles between fill-ups and gets 35 to 40 miles per gallon during those rare times when using the gasoline engine. It costs us $1.60 to fully charge the battery (from power which could be generated from green sources), and we get two days of in-town driving out of that. We calculate that the Volt will save us $1,000 in fuel charges over the course of a year — and it will take us one giant step closer to being free of fossil fuel dependence.