When it comes to choosing a suitable car for a long-distance daily commute, few would pick the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car.
Designed to give customers enough range to drive the daily commute in all-electric, zero-emissions mode while also offering the capability to drive long-distance at the weekend thanks to its on-board gasoline engine, the Chevrolet Volt is more than capable of traveling more than 300-miles between fill ups. But its mediocre combined 37 mpg official EPA gas mileage figure when operating in range-extended mode means that most who are looking for a true long-legged green car either save up for a brand-new Tesla Model S or buy a Toyota Prius hybrid instead.
Not so for Ohio resident Erick Belmer, whose daily round-trip work commute in his 2012 Chevrolet Volt is more than 220 miles. Since he purchased his Volt back in 2012, Belmer’s Volt — which he calls “Ol’ Sparkie” — has been eagerly chewing up the miles to get Belmer to and from work, becoming the highest-mileage Chevrolet Volt in existence.
Unsurprisingly, Belmer’s Volt was the first to hit 100,000 miles and the first to hit 200,000 miles. Last Saturday, as evidenced by his post on the Chevy Volt Owners group on Facebook, it hit the 300,000 mile mark, proving that the range-extended electric car and its battery pack is more than capable of dealing with high-mileage use.
Look up Belmer’s car on Voltstats.net — a site which collates individual owner’s OnStar fuel economy data — and you’ll see that it has travelled nearly twice the distance of the next highest-milage Volt recorded on the site. More impressively, despite travelling more than 220 miles per day, Belmer’s Volt has a lifetime fuel economy of 59.0 miles per gallon, helped in part by the fact that it has traveled more than 100,000 of those 300,000 miles in all-electric mode.
In addition to overall fuel economy being nearly 10 mpg better than the official EPA rating of a comparable 2012 Toyota Prius hybrid, we also note that Belmer has managed to beat the official EPA rating for fuel economy when in range-extending mode by an extra 1.39 miles per gallon. More importantly, we note that Belmer says there has been no noticeable battery degradation or reduction in all-electric range outside of the usual seasonal variations, which will be of great relief to anyone considering a used first-generation Chevrolet Volt.
Why the long commute? As our friends at GreenCarReports detail, Belmer — a General Motors Employee — originally worked as a millwright at a GM production facility near to his home in Bellville, Ohio. When GM closed that production facility, he was offered a job at the Lordstown Ohio facility more than 110 miles away. Deciding to stay in Bellville for family reasons, Belmer decided that he would take on the daily 220-mile round trip to enable him to continue to work at GM, and started the search for a suitable car to make the commute in.
After factoring in the cost of gasoline and the savings from driving at least some of the trip in electric mode (as well as what we presume was a GM employee discount on the car) Belmer had concluded back in 2012 that the Volt would be the best car for him. With what we presume is a charge at work during the day, his math has proven correct.
Interestingly, Belmer reports that his car still has plenty of wear on its original brake pads, although of course he has changed tires several times during the car’s life. Trips to the gas station take place every day and a half to two days or so, in keeping with the Volt’s 300-miles of extended-range operation when its battery pack has been depleted.
Asked if he’d buy a second-generation Volt, Belmer responded that he would consider doing so once the car’s drivetrain and other components are made in the U.S. That car, with an EPA electric-only range of 53 miles and a 42-mpg combined fuel economy in range-extended mode, would certainly represent a massive saving over his first-generation Volt over a similar distance.
As for the upcoming all-electric, long-range 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV? While Belmer is a total convert of the range-extended Volt, he admits the 200-miles of the upcoming 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV would make him a little nervous — presumably because its range is right on the limit of his daily commute.
Why? Failed charging, and the age-old spectre of range anxiety. Belmer reports that while his Volt has operated perfectly, he’s experienced more than one failed charging session with his Volt, making him worry that the same in the all-electric Bolt EV would leave him stranded.
When you work 110 miles away from home, we think that’s a fair enough concern to have.
On behalf of the Transport Evolved team, we’d like to congratulate Erick — and his car — for managing such a high mileage in such a short amount of time. Here’s to the next 300,000!
[Featured photo: Erick Belmer, via Facebook]
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