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Electric Cars: Saving On Gas, But Not Driving That Far

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Imagine using just five gallons of gas over a six month period, all while driving an average of 30 miles a day.

Tom Dixon claims to have done exactly that.

“It’s got Corvette and Cadillac in its DNA,” Dixon said, describing his 2012 Chevy Volt.

He drives his Volt from Burnsville to Bloomington and back every day, and he says he hasn’t paid for a tank of gas since he bought the car in December.
In the age of high gas prices, that fact gets the attention of his friends.

“They go ‘Really?'” Dixon said. “And then they want to learn more about the car.”

As you may have guessed, the Chevy Volt has two electric motors and a generator. It also has a combustible engine which uses gas, but only when Dixon forgets to charge up.

Most people pull up to a gas pump, pop the fuel cap and fill up. Dixon goes home at night, pops the power cap, and plugs in. He thinks he saves about $150 a month in fuel costs.

Dixon admits he is green conscious — with both the environment and his wallet.

That’s why he fills up on kilowatts.

“It’s about $1.30 to $1.50 a day if it’s completely drained of the battery,” he said. “I’m only using half, so I’m paying 60 cents a day.”

However, he knows his car isn’t for everyone. The retail price is around $40,000. But with less gas, fewer oil changes and maintenance, he thinks it will pay for itself in about 5 years.

Dixon says it’s a big change from the van he used to drive and he’s looking forward to the road ahead.

“I’m putting less carbon in the atmosphere; I’m saving money,” he said. “I’m reducing our dependence on foreign oil, which I think a lot of people would agree is something we need to do.”

In addition to a high sticker price, critics say the electric motors have a short range if not charged frequently. But Dixon said he is able to charge his car in about 6 hours overnight, and it goes for 40 miles on that charge.

Dixon expects to see charging stations pop up around the Twin Cities.

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