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Is Chevy Volt the answer to skyrocketing gas prices?

Friday - 3/16/2012, 2:51pm  ET

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Ari Colin says he's never once had to fill up the tank since buying it in December. (WTOP Photo/Adam Tuss)

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

STERLING, Va. - Driving 5,500 miles on a half tank of gas probably sounds pretty appealing to most people. A local man says he's doing it, and invited WTOP along for a ride Friday.

Ari Colin drives his electric Chevrolet Volt hybrid about 40 miles roundtrip between his home in Fairfax Station and his office in Sterling. He says he is not using a drop of gas for the commute.

"Last month I drove 1,800 miles, and it cost me about $60 in electricity to charge it," says Colin from behind the wheel of his eerily quiet Volt. "My old car got about 30 miles per gallon, so that gas would have cost somewhere around $240."

In fact, Colin says he's never once had to fill up the tank since buying it in December.

Avoiding the gas pump has taken some work. Colin has changed his travel pattern to make the most of the technology.

"I was going on I-66 and Route 28, and my speed was higher. The faster your speed is, the lower your (electric) range," says Colin.

He now opts for local roads, which keep his speeds lower and extend the range of the Volt's electric battery.

Colin recharges the car when he gets home, and says it takes about three and a half hours to fully charge the battery using a 240 volt outlet.

The only times he uses gas is on trips longer than 40 miles.

"I went to the D.C. Auto Show and I tried to find a charger in D.C. I wasn't successful," Colin says. "So on the way back on I-66, my battery ran down and the car switched over seamlessly to gas."

There has been plenty of negative press around the Volt, including safety concerns about the battery catching fire. That has led to sluggish sales. Recently, General Motors announced it was halting production of the Volt until April because the company missed its goal of selling 10,000 models last year.

Colin says he fells safe driving the car despite these concerns, and calls media reports "overblown."

Because of the billions of public dollars pumped into GM, the Volt has become a "political football," according to the Wall Street Journal.

GM is now expected to rebrand and relaunch the model. It retails for about $40,000.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)