Category: Electric Cars

TechMom Tuesday: Voltron the Zippy Locks Me Out

I am officially a commuter. I think it may be somewhere in the Silicon Valley bylines that I must then acquire a commuter car.

We went with the Chevy Volt – a zippy little plug-in hybrid that transitions to gas mode if I drive too far, while still allowing me to go months between fill-ups. (The price point is also significantly less than the sexier looking Tesla.)

The Volt operates as a pure battery electric vehicle until its plug-in battery capacity drops to a predetermined threshold from full charge. From there the internal combustion engine powers an electric generator to extend the vehicle’s range via traditional fuel as needed. When the engine is running it may be periodically mechanically linked (by a clutch) to a planetary gear set, and hence the output drive axle, to improve energy efficiency.

Human controlled success in driving efficiencies is indicated by a green bouncing ball on the dashboard. Accelerate or break to fast and the ball sinks to an angry yellow dot.

My vehicular history took me from an 11-year-old Honda that didn’t bother with bells and whistles such as power doors, windows or steering. I then graduated to the MomMobile – an SUV that had a fancy computer chip in the key that allowed for remote locking and unlocking. One still needed to insert the key physically into the ignition.

And then I met my Volt. All selections derive from the internal computer. (I do not know the operating system ultimately behind it.)

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