Oct 18

Video: Volt Across America, part 1

 

Note: Most regular readers here may recognize Maj. Jason Cullinane, U.S. Army, who bought his Volt in February 2011, listing the reasons along with a video in January this year.

He has done other videos for this site before as well, and until he and his family moved cross-country as he begins to chronicle below, he was an assistant professor of military science at Santa Clara University in California.

His wife runs a company on Cape Cod and could not relocate. So, Jason asked to be re-stationed, and this is part 1 of their Voltec trek to where he will be the executive officer for 1st Battalion, Army Reserve Careers Division. Given the battalion is a couple hours away, it will involve some long commuting, where Jason will spend the week at work and drive two hours home to the Cape on weekends – but it is a return to their origins.

“My wife and I both grew up on Cape Cod,” Jason said. “California was wonderful and I recommend it to anyone who wants to travel, meet great people, see great places and have great experiences. But home for us will always be New England.”


 

By Jason Cullinane
 

“So do I have get out and push?” asked my-sister-in law. “Or is it like a Flintstone car, you know, with no floor?”

Sport mode on my Chevy Volt (#900) answered that question. My opinionated in-law quickly revised her opinion on the car.

When I say I own a Volt, some people imagine it is a tiny tin clown car with a 20 mile range. I am still amazed at how little people actually know about the car:

No, it’s not tiny. It’s a luxury sedan. It can seat four big people comfortably.
Yes, it has kick. It goes from 0 – 60 faster than your Toyota!
Yes, that is leather,
Yes, it’s got a trunk. We go to Home Depot and IKEA with it.
Yes, I can use gas when I run out of battery power. It has over a 370+ miles range with a full charge and a full tank.
Yes, I’ll take you for a test drive.

I was confident in my Volt’s engineering and performance so I decided to drive it across the United States with my wife and our 9-month-old daughter. My time in California had come to an end and I was scheduled to move to a new duty station in Massachusetts. My wife and I decided to “see the U.S.A. in [my] Chevrolet!”

A trip across the U.S. presents challenges to any car. The distances are long, and our route included a number of mountain ranges. Not to mention a record heat wave. It had to hold all our gear. If you ever traveled with a baby, you know that a weekend away includes a ton of stuff. Now try camping with a baby for two weeks. Yes, we had lots of stuff.
 


 

But my wife was always up for an adventure so on the 16th of July, we left Silicon Valley for Cape Cod. Prior to this trip I had managed to get 142 MPG out of my Volt. This was mainly due to my ability to charge both at home and at work. A special thanks goes out to Santa Clara University for their support of vehicle electrification and having no less than five electric car charging stations on campus by the time I departed. I used almost no gasoline during the week and only really burned gas when visiting my sister in Los Angeles (an 800-mile round trip).

The trip across the U.S. was going to tax the gasoline generator far more than I had in the past. I knew I was not going to be able to plug in every night and that I would only get about 40 miles from each nightly charge. The only thing I was really worried about was seeing that 142 mpg number drop due to all the gasoline miles I was going to put on the car.

We decided to take the northern route (mostly on route 90) so we could see Yosemite, Mono Lake, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, the Badlands, Devils Tower, and Mt. Rushmore. We originally planned to camp out when we could and to be as self-sustaining as possible (cooler, provisions, etc.), but due to the extreme 100˚F plus heat (with a baby) we revised our plans. The air conditioner worked just fine keeping us nice a cool during the days. We had a wonderful time and made some lifetime memories.

We took video of the trip and part one is below. Check out the regenerative breaking in Yosemite (and crazy high gas prices at mono lake). Also, we found out that if you ask nicely, you can get a charge just about anywhere! Everyone stayed comfortable on our very long road trip. We spent 14 days on the road and by the end of the trip my lifetime mileage fell to… well, you will need to watch part 2 to find out.

 

 

I hope you enjoy the ride with me and my family.

 

 

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2012 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 34


  1. 1
    Kent

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (6:20 am)

    Congrats Jason and thanks again for your service. I’ve been a Californian all my life and I still haven’t seen Yosemite. I’ll look forward to part II.


  2. 2
    Mark Z

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (6:27 am)

    Great video Jason! Loved the captions. Taking extra days to travel allows for so much more sightseeing. Much nicer than my usual day and a half drive between LA and OKC. Please post part two soon.


  3. 3
    Loboc

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (6:40 am)

    Very nice! Reminds me of my youth when my parents took us camping several times a year. The ’60 Chevy wagon did a wonderful job hauling all 9 of us across the Midwest.

    No where near 128 mpg though! I remember my dad complaining about the high gas prices of thirty-five cents per gallon!


  4. 4
    Sean

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (7:02 am)

    My mom’s been wanting to travel too.

    Though it would be awesome to go cross country in a Volt.

    Only problem is my family is a grand total of five so all could go except one that wouldn’t be fair at all.

    Now if only Chevy could make a five or six seat EREV?

    Now that would be nice.

    The only one I can think of is the Chevy Volt MPV 5 if that were ever to hit the US market plus my mom likes SUV vehicles.

    So who knows maybe it would be a good substitute for those gas guzzlers.

    Who agrees with me?


  5. 5
    MrEnergyCzar

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (8:00 am)

    Thanks for serving, one heck of a road trip. The Cape will finally be mostly wind powered two years from now….

    MrEnergyCzar


  6. 6
    Dan Petit

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (8:04 am)

    Excuse the OT here, but all readers including Volt owners will appreciate this advisory to protect the many electronics systems in all vehicles.

    Immediately-destructive conditions exist where the newly redesigned Interstate battery terminals have insufficient diameters for proper secure continuity required by all microprocessors of all makes and models and years back to 1980.

    While battery makers really have a severe economic dilemma, that does not mean that what their engineers consider minimally acceptable diameters of terminal posts are actually acceptable.
    The cost of lead has skyrocketed for them, but the destruction of software and automatic transmissions has not become apparent to them. Although “outrageous dependability starts here” is their slogan, that is an implied warranty to only start a vehicle. I have seen some of their batteries with the plates going only halfway up inside the case (as sunlight illuminates this substandard and destructive design, but, now, the outside posts being too slim can be destructive to any vehicle, including of course the Volt.

    OEM purchasers should contract with American Battery suppliers such as Deka.

    For more information as to the sample set capability of my testing, you may go to my website at
    http://www.petit-tech.com


  7. 7
    Jim I

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (8:34 am)

    That was really cool video work!!!!!

    C-5277


  8. 8
    kdawg

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (9:31 am)

    Jason,

    I found it funny (and sad), that many times while you were talking while standing outside, all you could hear were gas engines running. So you take your quiet EV to enjoy nature, and have to listen to a V8 diesel running next to you.

    Nice video editing. One of these days I’ll get into that, but playing w/photo-shop is currently my limit.

    I don’t know how you got to the east coast, but I think it may have been interesting to go through Detroit/Hamtramck (like a salmon returning to its birthplace). Then you could have continued through Windsor Canada, Niagra Falls…etc.


  9. 9
    Tim Hart

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (9:31 am)

    Jason, thanks for sharing your trip. The U.S.A is awesome and your pictures were beautiful. God bless you and your family and have a safe ride home. It is a little painful seeing the lifetime MPG go down but hey, you have to go places and have some fun sometimes!


  10. 10
    stuart22

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (10:19 am)

    Super job Jason with the video, kudos to your wife for being such a great sport.


  11. 11
    George S. Bower

     

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (11:12 am)

    Jason,
    Great video.
    I’d like to hear your opinion of how well the Volt does up hill all loaded down like that.
    Did you get into “propulsion power reduced” mode?

    Anyway thanks for sharing.
    Looking fwd to part 2.


  12. 12
    Noel Park

     

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (11:35 am)

    Kent:
    Congrats Jason and thanks again for your service.I’ve been a Californian all my life and I still haven’t seen Yosemite.I’ll look forward to part II.

    #1

    You have no idea what you are missing. I had lived in CA for over 40 years before my wife finally dragged me there. As we all have, I had seen thousands of still and video images but, when we first drove through the tunnel on the highway from Fresno, it still literally took my breath away. Don’t wait another year!


  13. 13
    Noel Park

     

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (12:00 pm)

    Great stuff! I particularly enjoyed the music accompanying day 3, and the neat visit to Mono Lake, one of my favorite places. Great shots of the Tufa towers!


  14. 14
    statik

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (12:11 pm)

    Dan Petit: Excuse the OT here, but all readers including Volt owners will appreciate this advisory … For more information as to the sample set capability of my testing, you may go to my website athttp://www.petit-tech.com

    My OCD forces me to check out all links, and I feel compelled to mention that your “Petit-Tech” logo on your site is now forcing me to involuntarily hum the Flight of Conchord’s “Humans Are Dead” Binary solo from their HBO show:

    (Jermaine)
    Binary solo!

    (Bret)
    0000001, 00000011
    000000111, 00001111
    0000001, 00000011
    000000111, 00001111

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDx_NL5FqLM

    …so thanks for that Dan, )=

    PS) Nice work to Jason too. Maybe its the webmaster in me, but I appreciate the amount of effort that went into making that.


  15. 15
    pjkPA

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (12:24 pm)

    Thanks for your service Jason… and thanks for a very nice post.

    It’s owners like you getting the truth out … our media has dumbed down the public who will eventually wake up … thank you for helping that to be sooner.


  16. 16
    DonC

     

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (12:43 pm)

    Thanks Janon. That was a fun video!

    For anyone inspired by the video and thinking about following in Jason’s footsteps, the Mobile gas station he showed by Mono Lakes has an awesome restaurant (hard to believe I know). Hopefully prices on the gas will be a bit lower when you get there.

    Hope you’re enjoying your new home Jason.


  17. 17
    Kup

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (2:07 pm)

    Very nice video!

    Of course, I can’t help but notice that you cited that you got 142 MPG in your Volt before you began your journey across the country. Be careful because some people on this website will tell you that you are misleading people and that you are being as dishonest as the people that say that the Volt is being subsidized to the tune of $250k per Volt. If you “mislead” people with your MPG figure it makes me think that some people might think your video footage was actually created on your computer!

    Back on a serious note, nice video production and I look forward to seeing the next installment and getting the cross country data total if you are going to provide it.


  18. 18
    kdawg

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (2:46 pm)

    OT: I updated my charts at Kdawg.com Looks like what GM is doing w/the data is just averaging it out so that it goes up the same amount each day. Same daily amount of fuel, same daily amount of miles & EV miles. So the day to day data isn’t so interesting anymore. However the total miles keeps going up and is at 132,710,251 total miles and 81,777,813 EV miles. Total fuel saved is almost 5 million gallons.

    Another annoying thing going on right now is that GM isn’t letting Voltstats.net to the data. I hope they get this cleared up soon (or GM does a better job w/their myvolt website).


  19. 19
    Jim_NJ

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (2:51 pm)

    Great video! I’m curious – did you go to Mono Lake from the Tioga Pass? We did that a few years ago, and our brakes were smoking before we got to Lee Vining (pulled over to the side for a while to let them cool down). Do you remember if you had to use brakes much, or did you run it in “L”ow, and not need much braking?

    Thanks again for the story and video.


  20. 20
    Noel Park

     

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (3:09 pm)

    Jim_NJ: did you go to Mono Lake from the Tioga Pass?

    #19

    If you look at the water feature on the right as they are transiting from Yosemite Valley to Mono Lake, I’m almost certain that it’s Tenya Lake. So I’m thinking that the answer must be yes.


  21. 21
    Noel Park

     

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (3:13 pm)

    DonC: the Mobile gas station he showed by Mono Lakes has an awesome restaurant

    #16

    Yeah, I swear that the place is world famous, LOL. +1 My younger son used to go to Log Cabin Scout camp every summer, so we’ve been there many times.

    A few years ago they used to set up a big trapeze next door and had acrobats performing. I’m not making this up. And they had the biggest party in Mono County every Friday night during the summer. Absolutely SRO.


  22. 22
    kdawg

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (4:19 pm)

    statik: (Jermaine)
    Binary solo!
    (Bret)
    0000001, 00000011
    000000111, 00001111
    0000001, 00000011
    000000111, 00001111

    There are only 10 kinds of people in this world…
    Those that understand binary, and those that don’t.


  23. 23
    Noel Park

     

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (5:07 pm)

    kdawg: and those that don’t.

    #22

    That would be me, LOL.


  24. 24
    Loboc

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (5:43 pm)

    Kup: you are misleading people

    How is it misleading when you just read the dash and that’s what it says?

    The way Volt calculates fuel usage is literally miles/gallons_gas_used. This is the way everyone does it and I don’t find it misleading at all.

    Since Volt is a dual-fuel vehicle, the question to ask is how many kWh were used as well. I believe that the 2013 has kWh on the dash as well.

    What would be cool is if you could punch in the costs for these fuels and get a readout in dollars.

    /Not that I’m promoting anything, but, I use an app called Road Trip to keep track of all vehicle expenses. Since I have a TED 5000, the $/kw number is available as well. The input for gas is very easy to use.


  25. 25
    Kup

     

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (7:22 pm)

    Loboc: How is it misleading when you just read the dash and that’s what it says?

    The way Volt calculates fuel usage is literally miles/gallons_gas_used. This is the way everyone does it and I don’t find it misleading at all.

    Since Volt is a dual-fuel vehicle, the question to ask is how many kWh were used as well. I believe that the 2013 has kWh on the dash as well.

    What would be cool is if you could punch in the costs for these fuels and get a readout in dollars.

    /Not that I’m promoting anything, but, I use an app called Road Trip to keep track of all vehicle expenses. Since I have a TED 5000, the $/kw number is available as well. The input for gas is very easy to use.

    Hey Loboc, my comment was semi-snark. I’m with you. I think stating an MPG is a great way to start a conversation about the Volt for the people that don’t understand it but some people have stated that it is misleading and dishonest to state your MPG in your Volt because it is a dual energy vehicle and the MPG figure obviously only accounts for one of those sources of energy. There is even one person on here that says citing your real world MPG is as dishonest as saying that the Volt costs $250k to build. SMH

    So my little snarky comment was a good natured attempt to point out the absurdity of calling Jason’s comment misleading and dishonest simply because he cited his 142 MPG lifetime stat. Hopefully the negative ratings I got were from people misunderstanding my attempt at humor but people are quite diverse in their thinking and may have down rated the comment for any number of reasons.


  26. 26
    Edward Ellyatt

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (7:46 pm)

    Nice video. We both enjoyed it as we are planning our second trip across America in our Volt. It is 2400 miles from Fort Myers Florida to Henderson Nevada. We love to travel too.

    Take Care, TED


  27. 27
    Noel Park

     

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (7:55 pm)

    Kup: Be careful because some people on this website will tell you that you are misleading people

    #17

    I was just thinking yesterday how nice it has been lately not to have those people trolling around here. I don’t think that anyone posting here today would say that. +1 anyway because you were pretty clear that you were kidding.


  28. 28
    Eco_Turbo

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (8:18 pm)

    It’s a small World Jason, and you have a beautiful family. Thanks for the video.


  29. 29
    Dave K.

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    Oct 18th, 2012 (10:32 pm)

    Your daughter is fortunate to have a caring and able father. A very good example of responsibility and family values. Best of luck and blessings to your family.

    0.jpg


  30. 30
    Dan Petit

     

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    Oct 19th, 2012 (9:21 am)

    statik,

    Ha! That was funny, statik.
    The binary code spells out my name, dan petit.
    My brother set up the site, and it was his idea to encrypt my name in the logo.
    The site has generated superb results for me, and it really helps that shop owners
    can take a few moments to see what my company services are all about, because
    they are always excessively tasked when I happen to stop in.
    It has been up for about 4 months, and the results of the detailed introductions it provides the public surprise me every day as I stop by new shops who apparently already know all about the history of advanced analytic diagnostics.
    Thanks for your interest and funny comment.


  31. 31
    N Riley

     

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    Oct 19th, 2012 (9:23 am)

    Very interesting Jason. Looking forward to more. Good luck in Cape Code.


  32. 32
    Solar Joe

     

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    Oct 19th, 2012 (12:10 pm)

    Jason I would like to say thank you for serving our Country, you have a beautiful family and thank you for letting us be a part of your vacation cross country cant wait for video 2!


  33. 33
    smithjim1961

     

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    Oct 20th, 2012 (11:15 am)

    OT, I’m still a Volt owner wannabe but my friend, Bill, is test driving a Volt today. He’ll be arriving shortly in a Viridian Joule 2013 Volt. I’m looking forward to it.


  34. 34
    Koz

     

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    Oct 20th, 2012 (1:15 pm)

    Excellent video! Thank you for taking the time, extensive I’m sure, to make and for sharing. Your advocacy and leadership is in dire need these days.