Sunday, June 10, 2012

Deus Ex Machina

When I started to date Maj. C, I discovered a few character flaws.
  • He would not eat fungi.  (Really, what kind of person doesn't like morels, truffles, or matsutake?)
  • Hot dogs and Chef Boyardee featured prominently in his diet
  • His next car was going to be a Chevy
As character flaws go, aside from the mushroom thing, these are pretty minor. The last one however, was a little perplexing.  It simply did not go with the Maj. C package (his nickname in Bosnia was "Metro Jay"). This was a few years ago, and Chevy's advertising featured bad 80s rock and good ole American chest thumping. The target audience, I think, was a testosterone soaked troglodyte who thought smashing beer cans on one's head was the height of wit.

Maj. C was going to buy a Chevy Volt.

Well, an electric car-- that seemed like a Very Good Idea, at least in principle. But I had no faith that Chevy would be able to make a reliable car, never mind a reliable electric car. Readers, I confess. I mocked it mercilessly. The Chevy Volt was no Tesla Roadster (and that is a hot car). I could not imagine ever riding in a. . .shudder. . .a Chevy, except perhaps on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. Thank you, I sniffed, I'll stick to my Mini Cooper.

Maj. C wooed me with facts, figures, and data (he knows the way to this girl's heart).  He sang the praises of serial hybrids.  He talked about how most commutes are less than 40 miles round trip, so the majority of Volt driving would be electric.  He pandered mercilessly to my environmental leanings. We went for a test drive in New York City.

Then in February 2011, he bought one-- his 40th birthday present to himself.  He named the car Mjlonir, after Thor's hammer.  See below Maj. C's video of his bromance with Mjlonir.

It's worth noting a two second clip of Maj. C's video made it into a spot in GM's national TV/internet advertising (look for Maj. C in his Hawaiian shirt, camera work by yours truly). The checks from the commercial brought down the price of the car by a little more than 15%, although "making-a-car-fan-video-on-the-chance-it's-used-in-a-national-commercial" is generally not a reliable strategy for financing a car.

Aside from the nose (fugly), On-Star GPS (rage inducing), and the user interface (stupidly designed), I'm sold. Mainly, I love the 140 miles per gallon he's be averaging (and that's with some serious real world driving). It's comfortable and roomy. The Volt holds the stroller, groceries, and the car seat comfortably. It works well.  Unlike many American cars, there is clear attention to detail.  And, it's actually kind of a fun drive with the similar zip of my beloved Mini.

So the plan is to drive Mjlonir across the country from Maj. C's duty station in Silicon Valley, California to his new post in Ft Devens in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Once it's in New England, we'll hook it up to our home here, which is powered by a solar array.

So, Maj. C has two, not three, major character flaws. But I can live with that.

Addendum: For more information, I highly recommend seeing the documentary The Revenge of the Electric Car.  In particular, GM Bob Lutz's comments explaining why he decided to build the Volt in the first place are touching and interesting.

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