Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Volt

As Alison has said a bunch of times, "It's a good thing Tyler's dream car is only a Chevrolet!"

I've had my eye on the Chevy Volt for the last few years.  It was originally introduced as a concept car at the 2007 North American International Auto Show and I've kept a loose eye on the development of the car ever since.  The Volt has been available in other markets since late 2010, but it only arrived in Utah in the last 6 months or so.

The Volt is a plug-in electric hybrid vehicle.  Basically, I charge the batteries of the car every night in my car and I can get 40-45 miles on battery power.  This is perfect because my commute is only 9.9 miles from my garage to my parking spot at work.  After 40-45 miles when the battery has been fully depleted, the Volt's gasoline engine powers an electric generator that allows the vehicle to continue as long as there is gas in the tank (just like a normal car).

While the car is quite heavy (due to all of the lithium-ion batteries) it is quite zippy.  This is due to the fact that the car always has instantaneous torque available from the electric motor.  I'm not typically a car guy (considering that I'm upgrading from a 17-year-old Geo Prizm with 198,500 miles on it), but I've has a blast driving this car.  I've heard that no other car has spent as much time in a wind tunnel (for aerodynamics) or under the design microscope as this one.

Many of you know that the Volt was also subsidized by the government (referring to the government bailout of GM) and the car has come under fire from many due to the support that President Obama has shown for the vehicle.  What I can tell you is that the Volt is the most technically advanced car ever developed by a major automobile manufacturer and it seems that all of the details were well-thought out and usually well-implemented.  Here is a link to a fantastic US News and World Report article "In Defense of the Chevy Volt."

I've had the car for just over two weeks now.  I've driven the car almost exactly 400 miles since we brought it home from the dealership and I've only used 0.4 gallons of gas (that's 1000 miles per gallon!).  I won't keep that kind of mpg up as I've got some longer drives scheduled for work over the next few weeks.

One of my favorite things about the car is the smartphone app that allows me to program the charging, warm-up/cool down the car remotely, check battery life, oil life, tire pressure, etc.  Additionally the car will text me if charging is interrupted and when charging is complete.  Thanks to Salt Lake City, there is a free 2-hour charging station on 300 South, just outside my office.

The good news is that we have $7,500 tax credit from the federal government and a $605 tax credit from the state coming back to us for our purchase.  This puts the cost of the car that we purchased right in the mid-30's...  I was committed to paying more for the red, but the one that we got also had leather, upgraded wheels and an upgraded Bose stereo.

Any other questions?  Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


When we purchased this house (nearly 4 years ago!), we were thrilled by the crawl space under the living room.  While 'crawl space' is probably not the correct terminology because the ceiling height is about 6', we had always planned to turn the space into a playroom for the girls.  Fast forward a few years and the girls have more than enough toys for us to need a dedicated place for them.

The room was sheetrocked, lights were installed and the seams were taped, but none of the seams were finished when we purchased the house.

It was quite a process, the first step was to finish the spackling and sanding of the seams and nail/screw-holes and then the finish work.  Next I got the shelves hung and we started on the painting/priming.  Alison picked the paint colors.  I picked the walls that I wanted to paint in each color.  Just before we were to get the carpet installed we realized that there was a problem because we had a sloped floor drain in the room.  After exploring our options I decided to keep the drain intact, but to level the floor out to be smooth with the floor in the rest of the room. 

Carpet was installed and now we love having the room done.  Our biggest complaint is that the room is always quite cold, but lights and bodies warm it up.  It is great to have a place to keep all of the girls' toys where we can just shut the door and ignore the mess.