LEWISBURG — About 20 Lewisburg Area High School seniors cruised the school parking lot Wednesday morning, but they weren’t wasting time. This was a science lesson about how the electric Chevrolet Volt car works.
Van Wagner, who teaches environmental studies, said his students, all college-bound seniors, have been studying various forms of energy, “and we learned a huge portion of our energy needs are for transportation.”
“It really interested the students when they realized (the car) could be charged by solar, wind or even traditional fossil fuel power plants,” he said.
With that, Wagner arranged for the Volt appearance from Fairfield Chevrolet Cadillac in Lewisburg to answer the students’ questions.
And what did they learn?
The Volt, which sells for roughly $40,000 depending on the option package, has an electric motor that propels the car.
The car can go 25 to 50 miles solely on electricity. Ryan Moser, of Fairfield, described that as an average commute.
After that, the on-board gasoline generator provides electricity for the motor, enabling it to go another 344 miles. The gas tank holds 9.3 gallons of high-octane fuel.
The car can charge completely on a standard home 110-volt line in eight hours, or on a 220-volt line in four hours. Moser said it costs between eight and nine cents a day in electricity.
The real fun was in the parking lot. The Volt is a sporty, streamlined four-door vehicle that the taller students said impressed them with its roomy interior.
The students took turns piling in while Aaron Moser, of Fairfield, drove them around the lot.
“I’m really interested in this car,” said Crystal Des-Ogugua, noting her family has a new Volkswagen Tiguan that she said requires $45 for a full tank of gas.
“I did the math, and it will cost about $2,500 to fill that tank,” she said. At eight to nine cents a day to charge the Volt, “this would be a smarter car.”
The Volt is quiet; you can barely hear it running, something Jeff Steele noted could be a safety hazard.
“It’s a really cool car, but it’s scary you can’t hear it coming,” he said.
The Volt does have an electronic “chirp” meant to warn pedestrians of its presence.
Most of the students were impressed with the car’s pickup. It accelerates quickly and smoothly, “not like a gas car that takes a while to get going,” said Alex Starmack. “You just press the gas, and it went right away.”
The Volt has its skeptics, one of them in this class. Clay McCorkle said when the battery lasts for 100 miles on a charge, “then I’ll be impressed.”
“I think there is too much hype around it,” he said. “It should get more mileage per battery charge.”
Wagner also got a turn in the car, beaming from ear to ear when his ride was over and proclaiming it “cool!”
The demonstration was not a sales pitch for the Chevy Volt, he said, but rather “I simply want to expose my students to these technologies, so that when they study them in college, our Lewisburg students will be among the few in the class to say, ‘We studied these in high school.’ ”