First electric car arrives on Pine Bluff Arsenal

By Rachel Newton, AMCDecember 18, 2012

First electric car arrives on PBA
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

PINE BLUFF ARSENAL, Ark. (Dec. 17, 2012) -- Pine Bluff Arsenal's Directorate of Logistics recently received a 2013 Chevrolet Volt into its inventory of motor pool vehicles. The car arrived on post in early November, according to Carl Gilbert, mobile equipment division chief.

"This vehicle will be used as a pool vehicle, meaning it would be available upon request for use," he said. "When we assign it out to someone, they will still need to come down to the motor pool and charge it up. We still need to put in an electrical outlet for that reason."

Gilbert said there is a great advantage to just running this car on post because the battery lasts for approximately 40 miles per charge.

"You wouldn't have to use any fuel for short distances," he said. "I plan to do a gas survey on its usage to see how it does."

The Chevy Volt, which is a General Services Administration vehicle, is part of the Arsenal's, as well as a Department of Defense initiative to reduce the amount of petroleum usage.

"We have been mandated in the next few years to reduce our petroleum usage and up our alternative fuel usage," said Gilbert. "Right now the availability of this type of vehicle is limited so that is why the Arsenal has only received one so far. By next year, I don't know. There may be two available."

Approximately 12 vehicles of this type were available this year.

"We aren't sure yet if this is going to be like a typical post-sedan vehicle which runs for approximately seven years," said Gilbert. "I haven't seen the ratings yet on this vehicle."

According to information from the manufacturer, the Chevy Volt is a four-passenger, five-door compact hatchback plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. This means that it uses electricity as well as fuel. When the Volt's battery runs low, a gas-powered, engine/generator operates to extend the driving range from the initial 40 miles to another 300 miles on a full tank.

"When the battery charge runs low, the 1.4-liter gasoline engine starts and turns a 55-kilowatt generator, which supplies electricity to charge the battery so the journey can continue. All of this happens seamlessly as you drive along," read the information. "The car will go as long as its 9.3-gallon fuel tank has gasoline, or a distance Chevrolet calculates as 380 miles between fuel stops. That's 35 miles on an initial plug-in charge, and 345 with the gasoline engine generating the electricity."

The vehicle is powered by an 115kW electric motor and 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The battery can be charged with a standard household 120-volt outlet in about ten hours, or in about four hours with a 240-volt outlet (similar to a clothes dryer outlet).

"Volt uses a T-shaped lithium-ion battery mounted under the center console and rear seat to supply power to its 149-horsepower electric drive motor. The 435-pound battery has its own heating and cooling system to operate efficiently in extremes of temperature," read the information. "The battery can be fully charged in four hours with the available 240-volt charging station, or in 12 hours on normal house current. Chevrolet estimates an overnight charge costs $1.00 to $1.50, depending on utility rates."

Gilbert said that since the Arsenal is in the process of trying to use more alternative fuels this vehicle fits right into the program.

"This would include more active use of E-85 and bio-diesel fuels. Right now I have approximately 100 vehicles on post that are E-85 (capable), but no fuel source," he said. "This is all part of that petroleum reduction program and that is really what it is all about -- reduction of and energy savings."

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Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark.