Eric Belmer of Ohio owns a 2012 Chevy Volt that just turned 300,000 miles last week. He bought the car specifically because he commutes 6500 miles a month to work. Eric is a millwright for General Motors. When his local GM facility closed, he elected to commute to the next nearest factory rather than uproot his family. He needed a car that got great gas mileage and was reliable. With the Volt, he got both.
So what does Eric Belmer’s experience tell us? Let’s start with reliability. If you buy a new Toyota or Honda today, you know when you plunk your money down your are getting a car that will give 200,000 to 300,000 miles of faithful service if you treat it properly. But back in 2012 when the Volt and the Tesla Model S and the Nissan LEAF were still relatively new on the market, no one really knew what to expect when it came to reliability and durability. Now a search on the internet can turn up lots of stories of those cars with 100,000 miles or more on them.
The second thing people worried about 4 years ago was battery life. Who wants a car that needs an expensive battery replacement after the warranty runs out? Fear of battery degradation kept the resale value of electric cars unnaturally low for the first few years. The lesson from Belmer’s Volt is that battery life is not something to be feared. Chevrolet says the failure rate of the individual cells in the Volt battery pack is infinitesimally small — about 2 per million. Green Car Reports there is a 2004 Toyota Prius in Vancouver that racked up nearly a million miles on the original battery while being used as a taxi.
The lesson, then, if you are thinking about buying an EV but have concerns about reliability or durability is this: Don’t worry. Be happy!