Thinking of an EV? Ask the Man Who Owns One

“I will never own a gas car again. I’m still committed to the environment, but it’s all about the quiet, the driving dynamics, and never having to touch that dirty, nasty gasoline again.”


Rich's BoltAt a recent Solar Drinks get together, I noticed a brand new Chevrolet Bolt electric car in the parking lot. This is the electric vehicle (EV) that changes every- thing. It has a 200+ mile range and is priced around $37,000. It turned out that the Bolt owner, Rich Rodriguez, and I had met in Hood River a year or so ago. It occurred to me that his decision to lease a Bolt would make an interesting story for the Green Living Journal. Rich agreed to the idea of an interview, and a week or so later we met at a downtown eatery and delved into the why Rich drives a Bolt.

GLJ – Is this your first electric vehicle (EV)?

Rich – No, the Bolt EV is my second EV. My first plug-in vehicle was a Chevrolet Volt that I leased in 2013.

GLJ – Why did you decide on the Volt and why a lease rather than own?

Rich – I am an Electrical engineer with an MBA, and about 15 years ago I designed some solar technology, got an angel investor, and started a business. As part of my business diligence, I saw that green-house gases were increasing and scientists were concerned that at some time in the “far off future”, CO2 in the atmosphere would reach 400 parts per million (ppm). Flash forward about 15 years and one day the observatory in Mauna Loa, Hawaii announced that they measured 400 ppm of CO2 in our atmosphere.

Something inside of me clicked. I can’t explain it, but what I realized was that I couldn’t wait for other people to take action. I had to take action. Some- thing told me to check out the plug-in Chevrolet Volt (Editor’s note: the Volt is a plug in-hybrid with 40 miles of electric range after which a gas engine takes over), and in 2013 that became my first electric car.

I wasn’t sure about this plug-in electric technology so I leased it, which I’d never done before. That way, if I didn’t like it, when the lease was up I could turn the bloody thing back and be done with it.

GLJ – Why did you decide to lease a Bolt EV?

Rich – Well what happened was I fell in love with Volt. Number one: the quiet; number two: the acceleration; plus it was very reliable. At the time, I was commuting from Northeast Portland to downtown and I basically never used gasoline. So I would drive for like two cents a day in energy costs. It was all the car I needed: around town, electric, and gas when I need it, such as when I visit my two sons in Seattle.

So as time goes by, I’m following the Bolt EV technology because I really enjoy driving electric vehicles and I am truly an EV enthusiast. I am always looking for new stuff because we are at a time in history when things are changing very, very quickly. Our environment’s changing quickly, and our technology’s adapting, and again, I realize that I have to be the change. So as soon as Chevy opens the Bolt EV order book in October (2016) I place mine. I follow the entire process from ordering through manufacturing to the transporting to the dealer. It arrives January 13th (2017) and in the meantime several other things have come together: I just got married; and I got a new job with the State of Oregon in Salem. My new circumstances called for a second car, so we decided to keep the Volt and it will be the wife’s car for driving around Portland. I will drive the Bolt EV for the daily commute to Salem.

GLJ – Was the Bolt EV’s 200+ mile range a big factor in your decision to go with the Bolt EV? I guess we have to couple that with the price, since you can get that range and more with a Tesla, but at twice the price.

Rich – I’m not the Governor of the State of Oregon. I work for the State of Oregon and it’s not a Tesla salary. So, I got the Bolt EV because 1) I’d been following it, 2) I was getting married and I needed a second vehicle, and 3) I knew I had the Volt which is basically a hybrid and there was no reason why the next vehicle couldn’t be totally electric. Plus I prefer driving electric. It’s a better experience and most people don’t realize that GM deigned the control system of the Bolt EV to make it extremely aggressive driving. If you want to be a road warrior in that car, you can do that. It is very stable. It is very, very fun to drive. It looks small on the outside, but it’s huge on the inside. You sit high, and there is lots of glass. It feels like you are driving an SUV.

GLJ – There have been stories of some customers having less than ideal experiences at some dealers. How was your dealer experience?

Rich – I went to Wentworth Chevrolet, Portland for the Volt and one of the things I like about them is they are family owned. They also know their EVs – things like touch screen menus, fast charging, the PlugShare app, and what you need to charge at home. When I went in to test drive the Volt, I was with one of the Wentworths, who said to me, “Listen, if you want to take it home on the weekend, take it home on the weekend. Then bring it back on Monday. If you like it, fine, if you don’t like it, that’s fine too.” And that trust sold me.

GLJ – Have you had any second thoughts about leasing the Bolt?

Rich – I will never own a gas car again. I got the Volt five years ago, driven by concern for the environment, and I’m still committed to the environment, but as a purchase decision, now it’s more about the experience of driving electric. It’s all about the quiet, the driving dynamics, and never having to touch that dirty, nasty gasoline again.

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