Sustainability

It's Electric! Bowdoin Welcomes Chevy Volt

Story posted January 22, 2014

This month, with a grant from Central Maine Power, Bowdoin added a 2013 Chevrolet Volt to its vehicle fleet. The Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and according to Keisha Payson, adding the Volt is “a unique opportunity to bring awareness of PHEV technology to a wide variety of constituents.”

The Volt is now one of 60 vehicles available for use at Bowdoin. According to JoJo Craig, the Bowdoin Fleet Scheduler, “We’d like to see the Volt used at least a few times daily, especially for short local trips.” When students and staff use the Volt for trips around the Midcoast region, their environmental conscience can rest easy. "A full battery can last almost 40 miles, and that means short trips won’t use any gas and therefore won’t give off any emissions,” says Karl Perkins, Motor Pool Manager. Don't have a particularly strong environmental conscience? No problem. JoJo adds, “The Volt is available to all students and faculty and therefore provides an opportunity for more of Bowdoin’s campus to learn about and practice sustainability.”

Of course, the electricity needed to fuel the Volt's battery does produce emissions. Fortunately, the electricity generated for the Maine grid derives from considerably cleaner sources than the Midwest, say. This means that when we charge the Volt, its carbon footprint is not just playing musical chairs; switching from a gasoline-powered to an electric-powered vehicle is more efficient across the board. (Check out this report from the Union of Concerned Scientists.)

The Volt is unique in that it is also connected to “Fleet Carma” a data logger that collects information on the vehicle’s use and performance. According to Payson, the Volt should achieve the equivalent of 98 miles per gallon when running on the electric motor and 37 miles per gallon when running on gas alone. According to Chevrolet’s website, Volt drivers who charge regularly are averaging 900 miles, or about a month between fill-ups.

There’s also an onboard gas generator that produces electricity so you can travel a total of 380 miles on a full charge and a full tank of gas – talk about long-range savings in terms of both money and the environment! "The screen read 250+ mpg equivalent while on electric power, which is so cool! Electric cars have a lot of potential to increase the efficiency of how we get from place to place." notes Yoni Held '14 who was the first student to use the new wheels.

Central Maine Power generously donated half of the cost for the Volt, while Bowdoin contributed the rest. Barry Woods '83 also facilitated the donation of a charging station from his employer, Clipper Creek. The charging station will decrease the amount of time required to recharge the Volt.

The Volt is a valuable asset to Bowdoin College as it strives to reach carbon neutrality by 2020. So turn up your '80s dance hits and take a ride down electric avenue.