Two Tours in Iraq Give One Ex-Marine a New Perspective On Saving Fuel

In the past, it was more common to hear of military personnel who’d served overseas and couldn’t wait to get home and spend their hard-earned money on a new car. However in many cases, said car was often something sporty and perhaps a bit frivolous. Tales abound of returning GIs from Vietnam forking out on brand new V8 muscle cars like the Chevy Chevelle SS, Dodge Charger R/T or Pontiac GTO. Even a generation later, after the first Gulf War, many were still drawn to the notion of buying a Camaro, Corvette or Mustang after their tour of duty was up.

Today however, things are arguably different. With many of us having to deal with tighter budgets, saving our precious money has become more of a priority. Not only that, more of us are also increasingly energy conscious and that includes those who serve.

A good example of this, is Bob Tanner of Toms River, NJ. After returning stateside following his second tour in Iraq, Bob decided to buy a new car; only it wasn’t a Camaro or Mustang, but rather a 2012 Chevy Volt.

“Having fought overseas twice, I have strong opinions on oil and its effects on international politics and policies. A [big] decision to drive an electric vehicle was the fact I’d be using less gas,” said Tanner.

Since acquiring his new Volt, Tanner – who has completed his bachelor’s and MBA degrees and now works as a civilian product manager at the Army Contract Command in Fort Dix, NJ – says that he’s able to get 640 miles to the tank and only needs to fill up twice a month. By contrast, he says in his old car he was filling up every four days. As a result he’s gone from spending approximately $300 per month on commuting costs to just $90, which includes charging the Volt every night.

Reducing costs is one thing, but Tanner also sees driving the Volt as part of a bigger picture, namely conserving energy and reducing emissions. “It’s one of the same reasons I [originally] joined the Marines. Every contribution I make counts toward the overall mission.”


  • sean t

    A wise decision.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    I like the fact that he wants to reduce his gas useage. I just wish the Volt would lose a few hundred pounds and several thousand off the sticker price.

  • Airton

    Actually at 3500 lbs. it’s not bad compared to our 4000 lb. BMW ActiveE and neither car feels heavy when driving. The Volt is an awesome car and worth every cent but don’t worry the price will come down soon enough.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    The weight of the Volt is closer to 3,800lbs. About 600lbs. heavier than the Prius.

    I wouldn’t say it’s worth every cent. It’s too expensive now and for the the forseeable future.

  • Anonymous

    How much did he have to pay more for the cost of the Volt as compared to the vehicle he owned, or a new vehicle such as the corolla?

    Cost comparison:

    2011 Chevrolet Volt
    MSRP: $40,280.00
    5 Year Fuel Cost: $7,390
    5 Year Interest: $5,106.91
    Total: $52,776.91
    1 Year Fuel Cost: $1,478

    2011 Toyota Corolla
    MSRP: $17,300.00
    5 Year Fuel Cost: $8,325
    5 Year Interest: $2,193.39
    Total: $27,818.39
    1 Year Fuel Cost: $1,665

    45% Highway, 55% City, 15,000 Annual Miles
    Gas Price p/g: $3.44 and $3.76 (Volt takes premium)
    Electricity Price p/kW: $0.12
    5 Year Loan, 4.89% Interest Rate

    Price Difference: $22,980
    1 year Fuel Savings Difference: 187 gal.
    1 Year Fuel Cost Difference: 643.28
    Years it will take to recoup the difference in vehicle price in gas: 35.72 Years

  • Number cruncher

    How much did he pony up for this vehicle? How much did his OVERALL cost rise in comparison to the ownership of the Volt?

    2011 Chevrolet Volt
    MSRP: $40,280.00
    5 Year Fuel Cost: $7,390
    5 Year Interest: $5,106.91
    Total: $52,776.91
    1 Year Fuel Cost: $1,478

    2011 Toyota Corolla
    MSRP: $17,300.00
    5 Year Fuel Cost: $8,325
    5 Year Interest: $2,193.39
    Total: $27,818.39
    1 Year Fuel Cost: $1,665

    45% Highway, 55% City, 15,000 Annual Miles
    Gas Price p/g: $3.44 and $3.76 (Volt takes premium)
    Electricity Price p/kW: $0.12
    5 Year Loan, 4.89% Interest Rate

    Price Difference: $22,980
    1 year Fuel Savings Difference: 187 gal.
    1 Year Fuel Cost Difference: 643.28
    Years it will take to recoup the difference in vehicle price in gas: 35.72 Years

  • durhamsgoodoil

    I think regardless of what he paid, he cast his consumer vote for hybrid, he reduced his demand on petroleum, and he seems to be happy. So, in achieving all of those things simultaneously, I’m happy too, happy for all of us, and happy for him.
    If I see somone in a Karma as opposed to a Masserati they would have purchased, I’m not going to worry that it is overpriced. I’m going to be glad, that compared to what they would have normally done, their chioce is better for all of us.
    I use the same mentality at my distributorship that sells Bio-Based motor oil. I can’t get everyone to make the best decisions, but I generally can get everyone to make BETTER decisions.
    The great thing about this forum, is that in general everybody here to tilting the scales to a petroleum free and cleaner future.

  • perfectapproach

    @Number Cruncher:

    “Having fought overseas twice, I have strong opinions on oil and its effects on international politics and policies. A [big] decision to drive an electric vehicle was the fact I’d be using less gas,” said Tanner.

    He didn’t say he wanted to save money. He said he wanted to use less gas.

  • Rich Cooper

    The Volt is obviously more of a statement than a pure financial choice. But what car isn`t? Men spend trillions of dollars annually to look cool or project an image with their cars, and I am hugely encouraged by this vet. He`s found a car that hugely supports American labor, promotes new technology and really puts the economic choke on foreign oil. He`s great.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    I’m sure that money was burning a hole in his pocket. I remember coming back from an 8-month cruise, there were so many guys ready to spend their money that they saved during those 8-months. They went and bought cars and other expensive things. I remember the big thing was to buy a brand new 1994 Chevy Corvette for $25,900. You could buy it with $94 down and $94 a month. A couple of the younger guys went and they each bought one. If you do the math, it’ll take you almost 23 years to pay off at that rate. That’s not including interest or any other charges and believe me, Virginia Beach dealers don’t charge 0.9%. They charge interest rates that make even the less reputable credit card companies blush. Oh the Command Master Chief ripped them a new one for being so stupid.

    I’m not saying this guy is stupid, but I’m sure there was some money burning in his pocket after being overseas for a while.

  • Number Cruncher

    I guess other alternatives such as walking, running, riding a bike, purchasing a vehicle independent of gasoline or even consuming less gas were not viable options for him.

  • greg45

    I think getting a perspective from a solider is so good. He really knows how much that we have get away from oil. More people need to read this article. Business Start Up Tips