Note: Most regular readers here may recognize Maj. Jason Cullinane, U.S. Army, who bought his Volt in February 2011, listing the reasons along with a video in January this year.

He has done other videos for this site before as well, and until he and his family moved cross-country as he begins to chronicle below, he was an assistant professor of military science at Santa Clara University in California.

His wife runs a company on Cape Cod and could not relocate. So, Jason asked to be re-stationed, and this is part 1 of their Voltec trek to where he will be the executive officer for 1st Battalion, Army Reserve Careers Division. Given the battalion is a couple hours away, it will involve some long commuting, where Jason will spend the week at work and drive two hours home to the Cape on weekends – but it is a return to their origins.

"My wife and I both grew up on Cape Cod," Jason said. "California was wonderful and I recommend it to anyone who wants to travel, meet great people, see great places and have great experiences. But home for us will always be New England."


 

By Jason Cullinane
 

“So do I have get out and push?” asked my-sister-in law. “Or is it like a Flintstone car, you know, with no floor?”

Sport mode on my Chevy Volt (#900) answered that question. My opinionated in-law quickly revised her opinion on the car.

When I say I own a Volt, some people imagine it is a tiny tin clown car with a 20 mile range. I am still amazed at how little people actually know about the car:

No, it’s not tiny. It’s a luxury sedan. It can seat four big people comfortably.
Yes, it has kick. It goes from 0 – 60 faster than your Toyota!
Yes, that is leather,
Yes, it’s got a trunk. We go to Home Depot and IKEA with it.
Yes, I can use gas when I run out of battery power. It has over a 370+ miles range with a full charge and a full tank.
Yes, I’ll take you for a test drive.

I was confident in my Volt’s engineering and performance so I decided to drive it across the United States with my wife and our 9-month-old daughter. My time in California had come to an end and I was scheduled to move to a new duty station in Massachusetts. My wife and I decided to “see the U.S.A. in [my] Chevrolet!”

A trip across the U.S. presents challenges to any car. The distances are long, and our route included a number of mountain ranges. Not to mention a record heat wave. It had to hold all our gear. If you ever traveled with a baby, you know that a weekend away includes a ton of stuff. Now try camping with a baby for two weeks. Yes, we had lots of stuff.
 


 

But my wife was always up for an adventure so on the 16th of July, we left Silicon Valley for Cape Cod. Prior to this trip I had managed to get 142 MPG out of my Volt. This was mainly due to my ability to charge both at home and at work. A special thanks goes out to Santa Clara University for their support of vehicle electrification and having no less than five electric car charging stations on campus by the time I departed. I used almost no gasoline during the week and only really burned gas when visiting my sister in Los Angeles (an 800-mile round trip).

The trip across the U.S. was going to tax the gasoline generator far more than I had in the past. I knew I was not going to be able to plug in every night and that I would only get about 40 miles from each nightly charge. The only thing I was really worried about was seeing that 142 mpg number drop due to all the gasoline miles I was going to put on the car.

We decided to take the northern route (mostly on route 90) so we could see Yosemite, Mono Lake, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, the Badlands, Devils Tower, and Mt. Rushmore. We originally planned to camp out when we could and to be as self-sustaining as possible (cooler, provisions, etc.), but due to the extreme 100˚F plus heat (with a baby) we revised our plans. The air conditioner worked just fine keeping us nice a cool during the days. We had a wonderful time and made some lifetime memories.

We took video of the trip and part one is below. Check out the regenerative breaking in Yosemite (and crazy high gas prices at mono lake). Also, we found out that if you ask nicely, you can get a charge just about anywhere! Everyone stayed comfortable on our very long road trip. We spent 14 days on the road and by the end of the trip my lifetime mileage fell to… well, you will need to watch part 2 to find out.

 
 

I hope you enjoy the ride with me and my family.