Driving a Smartphone: Esurance COO Discusses His Volt

I’m just about to reach 4,000 miles in my Chevy Volt. I’ve used 27 gallons of gasoline in 3 months, about a tank a month. I had to check my calendar because I couldn’t remember the last time I stopped for gas — it was June 25th. Since I’ve owned my Volt I’ve averaged 145 miles per gallon. Pretty cool.

How the Volt all works

But isn’t the Volt an electric car? It is, but it’s referred to as an extended-range electric vehicle. It works exactly as promised, running 35 to 45 miles on a charge, only using electricity from the lithium ion batteries. I plug it in to a regular 120-volt outlet in my garage at home, and about 10 hours later, it’s fully charged.

If I drive more than the max without being able to charge the car again, the on-board generator (basically a 4-cylinder gas engine that generates about 80 horsepower) kicks in and starts charging the battery while the car’s moving. It has a 9-gallon gas tank, and gets 35 to 40 miles per gallon when the generator is running. So I never have to sweat out whether I have enough juice to get home (a condition referred to as “range anxiety”). And, except on long trips, I use minimal amounts of gas, which I love.

What it means in the real world

If I’m only driving to work or around town, I never have to buy gas. The last time I filled the tank, I was on a business trip to our Sacramento office from our headquarters in San Francisco — 120 miles one way. I did the first 40 on electricity, then the on-board generator kicked in to keep the batteries juiced the last 80 miles, so I ended up using about 2 gallons of gas. In Sacramento, I plugged in my car, worked the rest of the day, and then headed home on electricity.

Engineering tricks and handy perks

Mileage from the batteries will depend on driving style and variables like outside temperature and what’s being used in the car, particularly climate control. If it’s very hot and the air conditioning is running full blast, the batteries deplete quicker. The same goes if it’s very cold and heat is used.

One neat trick the engineers at Chevy came up with is heated seats that automatically turn on if the temperature gets below a certain level. It takes much less energy to heat just the seats than all the air in the car, so that’s the first thing that comes on when it’s cold (which it often is in San Francisco).

Driving a smartphone

Chevy designed the car with a 40-mile battery capacity because their research said about 80 percent of drivers commute less than 40 miles round-trip to work each day. I’m in that group: 18.5 miles one way to be exact, or 37 miles round-trip. I usually get home with 6 or 7 miles to spare on the battery. I liken it to driving a smartphone. Just like my phone, I plug it in at night, get a day’s charge, come home, and plug it in again.

Chevy estimates it costs the average consumer about $1.50 a day to charge the car. I haven’t tried to figure out exactly what my cost is, but all the testimonials I’ve seen confirm that it comes in between $1 and $1.50 as advertised.

Good surprises

The most surprising thing about the Volt is that, at 6′ 5″, I fit in it! It’s designed with good seat travel, so I can push the driver’s seat all the way back (no one but my dog can sit behind me when I do this, but 90 percent of the time I’m in the car by myself). The headroom is excellent, with a couple of inches to spare even for me.

The second most surprising thing is how much fun it is to drive. I wanted to do the right thing for the environment, and figured I’d sacrifice a lot of driving performance in the process. Not at all. In regular driving mode, the car drives like any other and accelerates fine. But it’s whisper quiet. I mean completely quiet! In fact, I understand the next version will have some kind of sound engineered in so that pedestrians will hear the car coming. Needless to say, I’m very careful in parking lots!

The Volt also has a sport mode and the car is flat-out fast when I use that. If I know I won’t be using all the battery before I charge it overnight, I’ll throw it in sport mode and have some fun. It does run the battery down faster, so I can’t go as far on a charge, but if I know I have the miles to spare, why not?

My favorite moment in the Volt so far?

Leaving the gas pump after paying only $4…now that was fun!

You and The Trevor Project: Thanks for Sharing the Love

Here at Esurance, we believe everyone deserves to feel safe. So when we heard about the amazing work being done by The Trevor Project, we couldn’t jump on board fast enough. But we didn’t just want to write a check. We wanted to help spread the message, empower the community, and hopefully inspire other companies to give as well.

We set out to donate $10 for everyone who “liked” us on Facebook, with the goal of donating $50,000 at the end of 2 months. Not only were we amazed at how quickly our goal was reached, we were also awestruck by the love, thanks, and support that came pouring in via our Facebook Wall.

Esurance associates from offices across the country were touched, and we all agreed that we’d like to convey our appreciation in a big way…

So we made a video. Enjoy!

Related link

Diversity and Inclusion at Esurance

Prestige, Lemons, and the Nitty-Gritty on Collector Car Insurance

As summer heats up, bringing with it gorgeous days and wonderfully warm evenings, classic car buffs come out in force to attend a host of classic car events. Ranging from ultra-refined exhibitions featuring the most classic of classics to lighthearted affairs celebrating beloved old rust buckets, classic car events offer committed car buffs a unique way to wile away a few summer days and nights.

To give you some idea of the gamut these events run, here’s a quick preview of the most and (arguably) least prestigious events of the season.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Sunday, August 21, 2011

Once a year, the famed 18th fairway at Pebble Beach, normally trod by some of the finest players the PGA has to offer, caters to a rather different tread: That of 200 of the world’s most elegant and beautiful cars and motorcycles.

Concours d’Elegance events happen all over the world, but the Pebble Beach event has become one of the crown jewels of the tradition, drawing cars and motorcycles of nigh-inestimable beauty and astronomical value. As The New York Times once put it, “The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has often been called the World Series or Super Bowl of the automotive universe, but those descriptions sell this celebration short. If anything, it’s more like the Olympics.”

This year’s event will feature cars and motorcycles in the following categories:

  • Mercedes-Benz and 125 years of the Automobile
  • Stutz Centennial
  • Ferrari 250 GTO
  • Edwardian Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts
  • Italian Motorcycles

General admission comes pretty pricey at $175 a pop, but for the truly committed car buff, this is something more than a can’t-miss event — it’s a pilgrimage.

Concours d’Lemon
Saturday, August 20, 2011

Offering a tongue-in-cheek twist on the ultra-elegant Concours further south, Concours d’Lemon (in Seaside, California) lauds that mutant offspring of the auto industry, the lemon. Stressing all that d’Elegance marques are not, this Concours offers a host of vehicles united only by their ugliness, dysfunctionality, and all-around awful design. Here you’ll catch glimpses of cars destined to be remembered for all the wrong reasons and undoubtedly enjoy at least a chuckle or 2 at these failures of the automotive imagination.

To cap off the event, officials select a “Worst in Show” vehicle — truly an accomplishment in this menagerie of failure. This 1980KV Mini 1 took the “honor” in 2009.

The nitty-gritty on collector car insurance

But what do these elegant classics and ugly lemons have in common? They might all make ideal candidates for collector car insurance through our partner, Hagerty. Collector car insurance offers a surprisingly affordable and flexible coverage option for a wide array of vehicles, ranging from Brass Era classics to cult-status tuners.

As you might imagine, any insurance that can encompass such a diverse array of vehicles has its complexities. To save you time, money, and anxiety we’ve compiled in-depth answers to all the most frequently asked questions about collector car insurance. Our FAQs illuminate everything from the basics of the collector car world (including the ultimate stumper, “Does my car qualify?”) to how to file a claim.

Ready to dive in? Check out our collector car insurance FAQs.

Related resources

Get a collector car insurance quote
Learn all about classic American muscle cars
Want a classic of your own?

Esurance and Sturgis: Motorcycle Insurance

Every August, motorcycle enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and bikers from all corners of the U.S. hit the highways and head to a tiny (typically quiet) town in South Dakota. Sturgis.

In 1938, J.C.“Pappy” Hoel and the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club held their first (9-bike) rally, and since then Sturgis has grown to become the stuff of legend. Last year an estimated 600,000 attended the 7-day biker gathering.

If you’re headed to Sturgis, you can expect bikes, Badlands, and buffaloes, but first you might want to check out our motorcycle insurance FAQs. Seriously. You never know what can happen when more than a half-million people converge in the shadow of Mt. Rushmore, and it pays to be prepared for anything.

As insurance experts, we’ve gathered everything you might possibly need to know about motorcycle insurance into one easy-to-find place (you might say it’s the Sturgis of useful info). And if you’re traveling across the country to get to Sturgis, find out which states are the most motorcycle friendly.

So check it out, make sure you have the motorcycle insurance you need, and last but certainly not least, ride safe.

Related links

Get a motorcycle insurance quote
History of Sturgis
The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club