Jeffrey Kaffee’s voice still echoes with excitement. He bubbles and beams, brimming with words. Being the first owner of the brand new Chevrolet Volt might do that to a person.
“This is such a significant step forward,” Kaffee said. “This is the first practical electric driving car.”
The 69-year-old retired airline pilot was so dedicated to owning an electric car, he actually ordered both the Volt and the Nissan LEAF; it was just a matter of which car came to New Jersey first.
“The first thing you notice is that there’s no noise,” Kaffee said. “When you press the button, it’s like turning on a light.” Kaffee said General Motors actually added sound effects for safety.
The next things he noticed were that there’s no lag time in acceleration and there’s very good torque. “It’s a very comfortable, smooth ride,” he said.
He also said he will get more range and flexibility with the Volt. That’s because the Volt relies on a gas generator to charge the battery after 25-50 miles. The LEAF doesn’t have this back-up system, but it can also go 100 miles per charge.
The Volt plugs into any electrical socket and will take about 10 hours to fully charge. A docking station is available for at-home installation that charges the car in about four hours. Kaffee said he plans on adding a docking station for convenience.
While Kaffee’s daily commute is only about five miles, he said it wouldn’t make any difference how long he had to drive. “It’s a seamless operation,” he said.”I’m going to go on vacation with it and go places. I’m going to drive it just like a normal car.”
Kaffee has liked the idea of using less gas for years; he traded in his 2005 Toyota Prius for the Volt and advises those around him to buy electric cars, or at least hybrids.
With a sticker price of $41,000, the Volt isn’t feasibly affordable for everyone. According to Kaffee, “the tax credit gives you back $7,500, so that puts it in the low 30s.”
Lauren Indiveri Fitapelli, Northeast Region Communications at GM, encourages anyone interested in owning or leasing a Volt in the launch markets of California, Washington, D.C., New York City or Austin, Texas to order one via a dealership. “We’re expecting to ship 350 vehicles this week and continue to build vehicles daily at our Detroit-Hamtramck facility,” she said. “Next year we expect to build – and sell – 10,000 units.”
Kaffee also has high hope for the Volt. “I bet you in five years GM will be putting out a 100,000 a year and people will be snapping them up,” Kaffee said.