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Sonoma Mayor Sets Electric Example in New Volt

Joanne Sanders buys her first American car and says she's saving hundreds of dollars on each tank of gas.

Many people talk about the future of electric vehicles but Sonoma's Mayor has gone further and purchased a Chevy Volt, one of the top-selling "plug-in" cars on the U.S. market.

Joanne Sanders told the city council at a recent meeting she has bought her first American car from Sonoma Chevrolet.

"It's very high-tech; the kids love it," she said.

At the time, she said she had driven over 760 miles and hadn't yet gone to a gas station.

"It's really liberating," she said. "It saves over $400 a month, which goes a long way to cover that debt. There are lots of benefits, like the HOV lane. It's $1.60 for electricity to go $40 miles."

Sanders tweets about the mileage savings on her Twitter account.

Patch went for a ride in Sanders' new set of wheels on Friday. It was smooth and quiet, around town.

The vehicle uses both a rechargeable lithium battery and a gas generator. It automatically switches to gas when the battery needs charging.

Sanders says she has just driven 1,618 miles, using one tank of gas that cost her $25, whereas that distance would have cost her about $325 in her previous vehicle, she said.

The base model Volt gets 38 miles per charge, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Sanders charges the Volt at home, with an outlet on the side of her house, under a carport, as seen in the attached video.

We took a few minutes to check out some of the city's Charge Point charging stations. Drivers can use a credit card to activate the chargers or purchase a ChargePoint card. According to the City staff, the ChargePoint card works best to operate the stations. To obtain a ChargePoint card, drivers can call a phone number and it will be sent by mail. Once you have it, just swipe it in front of the station. Here's the website for more information on purchasing a ChargePoint card. To use a credit card, it must be contactless. Contact your credit card company for more information.

The city of Sonoma has two city-owned charging stations at a parking lot near the corner of First Street East and East Napa Street. They were installed with grants obtained by the county of Sonoma.

The County of Sonoma last year was voted "Most Electric Vehicle Ready Community for 2011" by a group called Bay Area Climate Collaborative. Eleven agencies were nominated for the award, according to this Patch story. Agencies were judged on the number of installed and proposed charging stations, adopted policies and ordinances in support of charging stations, ease of permitting for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, outreach and education to catalyze the EV market, and a number of other criteria.

TELL US: We'd like to hear from other readers about their electric cars. Have you bought one? What is your savings estimate? If you haven't bought one, are you considering it?


bruce parmenter November 05, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I'm reading many of these newswire pieces where it is about someone locals know that now drives a GM Volt plug-in hybrid (pih) like a Volt ad campaign. I am for the buying public to know what their actual driving needs are and not be advertisement coerced just to increase pih sales. A regular routine of 80 miles a day, a 100 mile range EV would suit you better than a pih. A reactionary driving style (like an ambulance, here there everywhere), then a high mpge fuel car would be better. 38 Volt e-range miles is not the norm. Volt drivers that fight congested SF area traffic on both sides of the bay report: some lead-foots get 30 and some right-lane speed-limit types get 38. If your intent was to 'only' drive in Electric mode, know the Volt will routinely run the engine to keep it lubricated & not allow the gas to get old. Consider educating yourself by renting from Hertz or Enterprise) an EV and a pih for a week each to try them out. Then you will know what you want, and not have to rely on only what you have 'heard' in the advertisements. {brucedp.150m.com}
Jon Gundersen November 05, 2012 at 07:29 PM
If you drive a pure EV, especially in cold climates, you basically need a 2nd car or either that you may need to drastically change your lifestyle. Cold temps really cut down the range on a battery. If I could drive the 65 miles round trip to my mom's in winter w/o range anxiety, then yes maybe a pure EV would do. But that not the case right now. And I cannot afford and nor do I want a 2nd car right now. Plugins will be more affordable now for awhile. I'd love a Tesla Model S someday though, just a bit pricey for me right now.
Julie Pendray (Editor) November 05, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Thank you for your comment. We like our readers to weigh in like this, so everyone gets a bigger picture. This is just a "slice of life" piece, not meant to promote but just letting people know what's going on in Sonoma. It is a conversation starter. Best wishes -- Julie
Julie Pendray (Editor) November 05, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Thanks for your comment. I'm sure those who are considering an EV will find it helpful.
richard vandenbrul November 05, 2012 at 09:22 PM
This is great news. I live in Michigan and own a place in Sonoma too. I have been thinking of leasing a volt when my Dodge Journey lease ends next spring. I have supported American all my life. Glad someone in California is buying a USA made vechicle. There is hope!
Julie Pendray (Editor) November 05, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Thanks for reading SonomaValley.Patch.com We'd love to hear your experiences driving an EV when you get one.
MrEnergyCzar November 05, 2012 at 10:39 PM
I've owned a Volt for over a year, spent $123 on total fuel to go 13,500 miles, use surplus solar from home and courtesy charger at work.... MrEnergyCzar
Austin Anderson November 05, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Battery only cars burn gasoline every time you take t round trip that is near the range, because you must take another car. The volt stories are not advertisements, it is that we volt owners are dazzled by these cars. My First American car in 30 years, love it.
VFanRJ November 06, 2012 at 01:27 AM
As a Volt owner so far I'm averaging just under 50 miles per charge. The Volt really shines in stop 'n go traffic because there is no engine idling at the stop light. I'm bracing for a drop in range when the winter comes, but my first 9 gallon tank lasted just under 4000 miles; the savings covering most of my lease payments. Everyone's situation is different so the Volt won't provide these kind of savings for everyone but it fits my lifestyle like a glove. Just think if these kind of cars dominated the U.S. roads what kind of independence we would have from OPEC.

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