And you know what? I like it. It’s much better built than I expected, and the interior materials are better than what I’ve come to expect from GM. Acceleration was more brisk than I expected, ride fairly good (although there was some well-damped but still stomach-unsettling float over imperfections - chock it up to weight) and braking good. Dad seems pleased with the acquisition, and although he quibbles about a few minor items he’s fully aware that this is not the Mercedes he got rid of, just like I accept that my cheap Mazda minivan is not my old 5-series or Porsche.

A few years back my folks put solar panels on their roof to mitigate the problem of electric rates that are in the top five in the nation (they were #2 when I lived here and may have changed). Given the low residual value of the old E320, any accident would be a total and any component failure would likely exceed the value of the whole car. Now that dad’s retired he doesn’t have to commmute long distances in horrendous SoCal traffic anymore, so a luxury car was no longer needed. Range anxiety is still a problem, so a plug-in hybrid charged by his excess solar energy just makes sense. I, with my 2.3 mile commute each way, could probably get used to a vehicle like this.

I have become accustomed to the extra headroom that a minivan provides, and was reminded of that every time I banged my head getting in or out of the Volt. It’s relatively sleek and aerodynamic and that comes at a cost. Thankfully the area where I keep hitting my head is well padded.

This is the future, folks, albeit perhaps just a temporary one. Hydrogen and fuel cells? I was a big proponent but now I think that it ain’t gonna happen. Battery technology will continue to improve and charging infrastructure will be developed, and before long charging will be as quick and easy as filling with gasoline but cleaner. As soon as that happens there really won’t be a need for the complexity of a hybrid, but in the mean time this is a fine and efficient way to get around.