The Chevy Volt Is Better Than You Think


General Motors (NYS: GM) is finally getting cocky with its Chevy Volt marketing campaign.

After several false starts -- and a couple of production halts along the way -- the country's largest automaker is finally gaining traction with its plug-in electric automobile. The car has a range of roughly 40 miles between charges, but it also comes with a nine-gallon tank of gasoline that kicks in after the battery's charge has run out.

The new ads are effective, showing real drivers gushing about how rarely they find themselves at the gas station.

I can do the folks in the commercial one better. My wife bought a Volt in February. She has yet to visit a gas station.

Her daily commutes are light. She works less than three miles from home. Picking up our youngest son from school and other errands typically entails brief drives. Cynics will argue that she should never have bought a Volt. The math behind deciding whether it makes sense to pay a premium for an electric car -- because the batteries alone set automakers back thousands of dollars -- is kinder for drivers who spend a lot of time on the road.

However, it's not just about the savings on electricity versus gasoline. It's not even my wife's need to satisfy her eco-friendly urges.

Gas stations are a hassle. Taking five minutes out of a commute to refuel may not seem like a lot of time, but it adds up in a world where time really is money. (And then there's the radio programming that gets interrupted.)

There's also a safety issue. Robberies, assaults, and worse happen routinely at gas stations around the country. You'll never see an electric-car maker try to drive that controversial point home, but it's true.

This is the year when electric cars are finally ready for primetime. It doesn't matter that gasoline prices have actually been heading lower in recent months. Tesla Motors (NAS: TSLA) began deliveries of its ballyhooed Model S last month. GM and Nissan (NASDAQOTH: NSANY) will no longer be the only major automakers with electric cars on the road as Ford (NYS: F) and Toyota (NYS: TM) roll out electric versions of their respective Focus and Rav4 vehicles.

Sticker shock will continue to be a problem, and anxious carmakers will probably resort to compelling lease deals to move cars, as Chevy had to do earlier this year with the Volt.

However, the revolution is happening -- and it's not just about the savings or environmental benefits.

Stream on
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At the time thisarticle was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford Motor and Tesla Motors.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of General Motors, Tesla Motors, and Ford Motor.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a synthetic long position in Ford Motor. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the other stocks in this story, except for Ford. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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