Eager customer takes delivery of Chevy Volt in Burnaby
After a year-long wait, Jeffrey Ciachurski finally got the keys to his new car last Thursday at the Carter GM dealership in Burnaby.
The occasion was one worthy of photos and media interest since the car he was buying, the Chevrolet Volt, has been one of the most anticipated in some time.
The Burnaby dealership was one of a handful to receive the car in Metro Vancouver, one of seven cities across Canada to receive them in the initial rollout.
The Volt is the first fully-electric vehicle that has an extended range, thanks to a gasoline-powered generator that will produce electricity after the battery has been depleted. A fully-charged battery has a range of 40 to 80 kilometres before needing to be recharged, which can be extended by another 500 kilometres on a full 35-litre tank of fuel until it can be plugged in or refueled.
That makes it feasible to use on longer trips, said Bill Mitchell, president of the Carter Automotive Family. The battery can be charged using a standard 120-volt outlet, or a 240-volt outlet, the kind a household dryer runs on, for a faster charge.
Mitchell said when he test-drove the Volt, he went 160 kilometres without having to burn any fuel. "If you commute less than 60 kilometres a day, you should never burn any fuel."
He estimated that at today's electricity rates, it would cost $1 to $1.25 a day to charge. The base model Volt sells for about $43,000.
For Coquitlam resident Jeffrey Ciachurski, the car is a further extension of his commitment to alternative energy.
As chief executive officer of Vancouver-based Western Wind Energy Corporation, which operates wind turbines in California, he was quick to outfit it with a vanity licence plate that reads "wndpwr."
Ciachurski plans to practically eliminate his carbon footprint for the car by purchasing emission offset credits, which certifies that the electricity he purchases from BC Hydro to charge it comes from renewable energy sources.
He called the Volt "game changing technology," explaining that its battery can store renewable energy, something akin to the Holy Grail of sustainable energy. He said that a home's electrical system could we outfitted to pull power out of the car's battery.
That's something that might be appealing when BC Hydro moves to a system where people are charged a higher rate for power at peak usage periods. In that case, the Volt's battery could be charged at non-peak periods, the electricity stored, then utilized during peak periods to save money.
Ciachurski stressed that while such a use of the Volt would be technically possible, it is likely not yet legally possible and might put the car's warranty at risk.
In the meantime, he's enjoying the luxury style and finish of the car which he was pleasantly surprised to find was faster than he expected.
"My fear was it was going to drive like your grandmother's car. I stepped on the pedal and this thing is fast."
He likes the car so much he's committed to purchasing nine more for his staff in an effort to make his company's car usage 100 per cent certified green.
But they'll likely have a bit of a wait.
Mitchell said before supply becomes more widespread in about a year, over the next six months his Burnaby dealership will receive about 12 more of the electric cars.
"They're all spoken for."