Zete's Volt at One Year!

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Thread: Zete's Volt at One Year!

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    GMI Contributor Premium Member zete's Avatar
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    Zete's Volt at One Year!

    Well, it's been a year since we bought our Chevrolet Volt. And it's been a very uneventful year. Most people would be a bit wary with any first generation technology -- me amongst them -- but being a techie I tend to get new technology early regardless and sometimes have paid the price. Not with the Volt. It's been utterly flawless. It performs just as GM said it would. Lutz and the entire Volt team should be very very proud, as should the folks on the assembly line. The car is, after one year of me driving, still rock solid and not a squeak or rattle -- even considering that some of our roads look like they're "Imported from Kabul".

    Those wondering if a green car would make me change my driving habits I can happily say that, no, the Volt didn't. It was quite happy with my driving style. Other enthusiasts who drove it similarly commented on how the car enjoys being driven. This is probably one of the biggest surprises for those who haven't driven a Volt: it's a truly enjoyable car. It does not compromise the joy of driving to get you an extra klick of range. And for someone like me who couldn't care less about that extra klick or so I am very very happy. Swapping the G8 GT for this was not as big a sacrifice as I thought it might be. In fact, except for the v8 burble and the insane power of the GT I can say I barely miss the G8. If the ELR is as sporty as some rumours claim, then that car would make me fully forget about the G8!

    For the curious, note that I only charge at home. If I could charge at work then I'd have much better all-electric numbers -- and lower total running costs. Weekends we typically put 200+km on the car, most of that on Saturdays. And that's when we use most of the fuel. For more detail, here's the monthly kw-hr/100km straight from OnStar. This is the average for the month as I have little interest in day-to-day. I've provided temperatures in Celsius as well (high, low, average). Do note that during the winter months the car was pretty much driven at the cold extreme since I would go to work when it was dark, and cold and head home around 6 or 7pm, again, when it was much colder than the daytime high.


    • November 2011:25kW-hr/100kms (10c, 0c, 5c) *
    • December 2011: 30kW-hr/100kms (0c, -8c, -4c)
    • January 2012: 33 kW-hr/100kms (-3c, -14c, -9c)
    • February 2012: 25 kW-hr/100kms (0c, -10c, -5c)
    • March 2012: 34kW-hr/100kms (9c, -3c, 3c) *
    • April 2012: 25kW-hr/100kms (12c, 0c, 6c)
    • May 2012: 22kW-hr/100kms (22c, 9c, 15c)
    • June 2012: 20kW-hr/100kms (26c, 13c, 19c)
    • July 2012: 21kW-hr/100kms (30c, 15c, 23c) *
    • August 2012: 20kW-hr/100kms (27c, 14c, 21c) *
    • September 2012: 20kW-hr/100kms (21c, 8c, 14c)
    • October 2012: 21kW-hr/100kms (15c, 4c, 10c)


    * = above average monthly temperature.

    Average kW-hr/100km = 25.

    In winter the range can be as bad as 32km (see below for stats). And, depending on my commute, that is either barely enough or not nearly enough to go to work and come home. It's nice to not have to worry about getting home courtesy of the range extender.

    The range extender comes on seamlessly. You can barely hear it, it's quite well insulated from the car. In Mountain Mode, however, it is quite a bit noisier and something that will have to be tamed for the ELR since the racket it can produce would be rather unbecoming a Cadillac. I do wonder if a rotary engine might be a better choice for EREVs. Do note that GM did insulate any vibrations exceptionally well, but I think GM should have used the audio system to mute the drone when in Mountain Mode.

    The driving dynamics, quietness, and overall fit-and-finish of the car is unbelievable. The car is simply a blast to drive -- ignoring the stupid low-rolling-resistance tires for now (see below). Because of it's low centre of gravity it just loves being tossed around. It's easily as fun as the G8 was in terms of handling, but obviously lacking the grunt the v8 in the G8 provided -- here's to hoping Voltec II resolves that problem since electric motors can provide huge amounts of torque to make for a truly awesome driving experience.

    There are definitely three things that take a bit of getting used to:


    1. The lack of shifting from the car is weird until you get used to it. It means you regularly end up scooting past speed limits because the car is so quiet. I've had to learn to watch my speed since between the sound deadening, the silence of the electric motors and the general overall soundness of the vehicle you end up driving much more quickly simply because you're not aware the speed that you're doing.
    2. The brakes take some getting used to. The first 10% of depression or so does not result in braking in the way a typical car does. Once you get used to it, though, it's not big deal.
    3. Not having to stop for gas every week is totally off-putting initially. It's just weird seeing the range go up each morning from where it was the night before -- and by "up" I mean 60km or so, so it's quite noticeable. I pass a Petro Canada each day on my way to work and I've seen people pumping gas into their cars staring at me as I roll by. They seem a tad jealous.


    The car does get a lot of attention even now. I get thumbs up, but I also get the occasional a** who seems intent on driving slowly in front of me for whatever perverse reason. But most people like the car and want to know more about it. Most are amazed at the "fuel economy" and when taken for a spin at how the car performs. Most would buy one if it weren't for the price, so once GM gets the price down I think there's a huge market just waiting to buy the car. I've had a couple of folks who think the car is slow, but considering how I drive they're usually dispelled of that notion fairly quickly. A few individuals have actually stopped at a light and told me they can't believe how quickly it moves. I think they're used to a certain slug-shaped vehicle that moves around at a slug's pace while the smug driver annoys the crap out of everyone around them. Me, I drive the same way I've always driven. And, to be honest, that's probably cost me some range and fuel economy in charge sustaining mode, but who cares. I bought the Volt because it's cool, not so I'd save a buck a month on gas or electricity. If I was interested in saving as much money as possible I'd have bought a used 4-banger or taken the bus to work .

    Of course, as with everything in life, nothing's perfect. So, things that bug me or need improvement are:


    • The stupid "low rolling resistance tires" which is translated into car-guy speak as "squeals like a stuck pig whenever you try to turn at all enthusiastically". You should be able to pick real tires so the car would be more enjoyable to drive.
    • No power seats? What the …
    • Should have come with HID headlights. I mean, really. If not HID then full-on LEDs.
    • No hard, auto-lift cargo cover -- I mean, the car is $40+k. It (optionally) comes with an elastic cargo cover. Again, what the …
    • In Sport Mode it shouldn't pull back on power at 80 - 90km/h. I know it does it to save electrons, but I put it in sport not really caring about electrons being spewed with vigour, so GM should truly just let the car perform fully in Sport Mode. This, to me, is GM's biggest boneheaded move regarding the car.


    Not a long list, but that's truly the only things that still bug me one year in. I still thoroughly enjoy the vehicle.

    I'd love to see this on Epsilon, say in something the size of the Regal or Malibu with styling like the Flextreme GT/E. That would be awesome. One can dream .

    Also, something only a person with an electric car would care about, Ottawa has crap charging infrastructure -- and by crap, I mean none. Well, there are like 3 spots, none of them remotely convenient. Typical bureaucracy: lots of nattering on about doing it, little actual doing.

    Now, to the part that I know some of you are just waiting for, how the car performed across the entire year including a typical Ottawa winter followed by an unusually hot Ottawa summer. So, without further ado, onto some statistics.


    • Kilometers: 18,905km (11,757 miles)
    • Electric km: 15,723 (9,770 miles)
    • Gas km: 3,182km (1,977 miles)
    • "Fuel" Economy: 1.3l/100km (181mpg)
    • Average fuel economy in CS mode: 6l/100km (39mpg)
    • Best fuel economy in CS mode: 4.35l/100km (54mpg)
    • Worst fuel economy in CS mode: 8.04l/100km (29mpg)
    • Worst range: 32km (20 miles)
    • Best range: 75km (47 miles)
    • Average warm - hot weather range (> 15c): 60+km
    • Average fall weather range (5 - 15c): 55km
    • Average mild winter weather range (-5c - 5c): 48km
    • Average cold winter weather range (-15c - -5c): 40km
    • Average f-k'n cold weather range (-50c - -15c): 36km
    • Total gas consumed: 257l (68 gallons)
    • Total gas consumed (est): $334 (averaged price for the year @ $1.30 for premium -- note, GM provided 2 tanks free, so the true out-of-pocket cost to us was $256).
    • Total gas consumed monthly, averaged: 21.5l/month (5.7 gallons) -- total monthly cost = $28
    • Typical gas range: spring, summer, fall = 520km (323 miles); winter = 384km (239 miles)
    • Total electricity consumed (est.): 3,931kW-hr
    • Total cost of electricity (est): $400 taxes in (~ $33/month @ $0.11/kW-hr Ottawa hydro, off-peak since we charge mostly at night)
    • Electric power rating (kW/100km): 30 - 35kW-hr/100km Winter / 19-21kW-hr/100km Summer
    • Range of operating temperatures: -40c - +45c
    • Percentage electric: 83%
    • Total running cost/month (est): $28 + $33 = $61 (taxes in)
    • Total maintenance costs: $100 (tire swap, summer-winter-summer + storage + balance).
    • Total operational costs for 1 full year: $100 + $400 + $256 = $756 ($834 if GM-provided gas calculated in).


    Of interest is that the "fuel efficiency" in Mountain Mode seems to be about 6.25l/100km (38mpg). And that keeps 18km of range on the car. Obviously, if there are less than 18km it will charge the battery up to 18kms. But if it has 18, then what you end up with is a 38mpg cost to keep it there. I'm sure "Hold Mode' delivers similar numbers on the 2013 Volt.

    I don't really even notice the increase in the electrical bill courtesy of us switching 36 of our lights to LEDs. Our monthly bill has actually gone down $50/month courtesy of the LEDs and so we're now paying less per month than before the Volt arrived. So, the savings courtesy of the LEDs easily covers the Volt's monthly charging costs plus an additional $50 in savings. We really can't complain at all!

    One other tidbit, after one year of driving the Volt the "Remaining Oil Life" according to OnStar is 80%. That means, nearly 20,000km in and the oil has lots of life yet. GM recommends a change every 2 years or when the "Change Oil" notification comes on. I'll deal with the oil change next year, obviously, when the car hits 40,000km or so. Interestingly enough, the oil will probably still have more than 50% of its life left. I wonder if this makes it easier/better for recycling.

    Finally, I'm seeing more and more Volts. Just yesterday I saw a red one like mine and passed a white one on the way home on Baseline. So they're becoming more common. What's not more common is visits to the gas station. With only 257 litres used, I've visited a gas station exactly 7 times in a year (it'd have been 8 had GM not given me a second free fill up). Pretty impressive considering the 30 litre tank and the fact the car uses gas to keep itself warm during our darkest, coldest months of winter. All told, we're extremely pleased with the Volt.

    Couldn't be much happier. Would I buy another Volt? In a heartbeat. What would I most want in my next one? More range, more power to the wheels and more room -- an Epsilon-based Voltec vehicle would be optimal in my opinion, but I'm willing to sacrifice room for power if the ELR is substantially faster and even more fun to drive .
    Last edited by zete; 10-22-2012 at 06:49 PM.
    "Christians should not hold dumb opinions about the natural world based solely on misreadings of the Bible, especially opinions that can be demonstrably falsified by Reason, lest the Faith be subject to ridicule and mockery." -- St. Augustine of Hippo.

    "Stop being dicks to the poor." Pope Francis, paraphrased.

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    Firebird Concept (the turbine one) JBsZ06's Avatar
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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    Excellent write up!

    I fully expected the positive review and agree the ELR should be quite an impressive addition.

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    6.2 Liter LS9 Supercharged V8 Premium Member ne_one's Avatar
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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    Excellent overview and testimonial... thanks for sharing.

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    GMI Staff Member Premium Member vanshmack's Avatar
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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    Great review of a year spent with a game-changing car!

    I'm a bit shocked about the lack of HIDs, too. HIDs actually use LESS electrical power than halogens. They do require 30,000 to 40,000 volts at high amperage to initially fire, but once past that, they need very little voltage (relative to halogen/incandescent bulbs) to operate.
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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    An excellent, and all inclusive report/review of your 1st year with what I still believe is "The most technologically advanced car on the planet"! The "Standard of the World" will have it next year. An automobile that BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Lexus, or anyone, for that matter, have yet to match...........
    Jake

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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    Has it been a year?

    GREAT that you are still pleased with the vehicle!!

    GREAT INFORMATIVE write-up.

    Your annual numbers seem to support the roughly 350 watt-hours/mile about the same as we estimated shortly after you got the Volt. Thanks for the confirmation.

    Am I correct that you seldom use AC?

    Also, isn't heating predominately electric? IF so, then would you agree that heat plus exterior lighting must be the major contributors to early FALL to late Spring increase in kWh/100 km?

    Hope the Volt continues to serve you and yours well!
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    44 mpg by 2010 ... 2013?

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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    Great write up Zete, I always look forward to your updates, but everytime I read one it just makes want to go and buy a volt.

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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    Zete - Thanks for documenting your year with the Volt. I look forward to future updates. It's really great to see your numbers as I hope to pick up a Volt in the next year, give or take a few months. Most striking is your overall rating of 181 mpg. Quite an impressive number for not doing anything special to maximize economy! I've seen quite a few Volts where I live in CT and see them frequently in NYC. CT also seems to be doing a pretty decent job in regards to charging stations. I'm not sure if there has been an active push for them, but I keep seeing them pop up in parking garages, shopping centers, and private businesses.

    I'd also like to thank you for the honest review, pointing out your perceived flaws of the Volt. We all know that there is a certain someone on this site that would never even imply that their half-baked plug-in has any character flaws. Let's just hope that GM continues to revise and improve the Volt as time goes on.

    Thanks again and continue to keep us informed!

    Edit: Regarding the headlights - Does anyone know the power consumption differences between standard halogen lights vs LED lights vs HID lights? I believe that the Leaf has LED lights. I always thought that LED lights required the least amount of power, but I'm not really sure. One thing that I do know, is that my LED lights that I use for night mountain biking put off a decent amount of heat. The lamp even sits in a ribbed (?) aluminum housing that acts as a heat sink. However, they put out more light than an "equivalent" halogen bulb, and a little less than an HID setup.
    Last edited by impala02; 10-20-2012 at 11:15 PM. Reason: Additional information
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    GMI Contributor Premium Member zete's Avatar
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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    To everyone, thanks for the kind words. I try to keep my word and I promised a series of updates on the car. I'm not sure when I'll do the next one. I will do one at the 2 year point and then maybe another at 50,000km but in between now and then, I'm not sure.

    But I do hope I've given enough numbers to satisfy everyone .

    Quote Originally Posted by vanshmack View Post
    Great review of a year spent with a game-changing car!

    I'm a bit shocked about the lack of HIDs, too. HIDs actually use LESS electrical power than halogens. They do require 30,000 to 40,000 volts at high amperage to initially fire, but once past that, they need very little voltage (relative to halogen/incandescent bulbs) to operate.
    I'm hoping GM puts them on the next iteration. There may well be a good reason that none of us are aware of regarding HIDs not being on the Volt. But for such an advanced car it seems a rather odd oversight. The daytime running lights are LEDs, so I remain baffled.

    Quote Originally Posted by 44 mpg by 2010 View Post
    Has it been a year?
    Oh, yes. It has. Unbelievably, it has. I even got a note from GM on the anniversary of the car which was a nice reminder to post this .

    :
    Your annual numbers seem to support the roughly 350 watt-hours/mile about the same as we estimated shortly after you got the Volt. Thanks for the confirmation.

    Am I correct that you seldom use AC?
    Nope. I always use AC. I tried keeping the climate control in "ECO" mode but just left it in COMFORT. I just don't have the patience or desire to constantly fiddle with the climate control to save a klick or three. Instead, I put it in COMFORT and then set the cabin temperature to 23.5c in summer and 22c in winter. I have no desire to sweat in summer or freeze in winter, and my kids sure aren't going to stand for it -- nor is the wife. In fact, when they drive the car in winter the seats are always set to Nuclear and I've found the cabin temperature typically set to 26c. I find it's a sauna but the wife and daughter like it that way.

    So, a long way of saying that I run the climate control system on full Auto with AC left on and leave the sorting out of how to blow/circulate the air around the cabin to the computer. So my numbers above are almost exclusively with COMFORT mode and at the settings indicated.


    Also, isn't heating predominately electric? IF so, then would you agree that heat plus exterior lighting must be the major contributors to early FALL to late Spring increase in kWh/100 km?
    I'm not sure lighting is that big an issue, but heating definitely is. As soon as it got colder -- 10c nights -- I could see a drop of 3 - 5km of range. And since the car uses the battery to heat itself, too, that also uses up a good portion of the power.

    Hope the Volt continues to serve you and yours well!
    I'm hoping so, too. So far so good.
    "Christians should not hold dumb opinions about the natural world based solely on misreadings of the Bible, especially opinions that can be demonstrably falsified by Reason, lest the Faith be subject to ridicule and mockery." -- St. Augustine of Hippo.

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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    181 mpg, and a car driven by a person with a twice large uranium infused right foot that is not utterly divergent from mine with none of the compromises of the Prius which include styling that brings small children to tears, and parade float dynamics. A real car that can return even higher gas mileage for certain posters that do 45 mph on the freeway, and take their shoes off when driving for the ultimate in hypermiling techniques.
    I want a car so violent that the mere thought of full throttle would cause a heart attack. That actually going wide open throttle in would result in nothing less than instant death!
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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    Quote Originally Posted by germeezy1 View Post
    181 mpg, and a car driven by a person with a twice large uranium infused right foot that is not utterly divergent from mine with none of the compromises of the Prius which include styling that brings small children to tears, and parade float dynamics. A real car that can return even higher gas mileage for certain posters that do 45 mph on the freeway, and take their shoes off when driving for the ultimate in hypermiling techniques.
    Yes, you can drive it like an ass and you still get the same range. It's rather unbelievable that I get 60+km in the summer when I drive the way I usually do but get close to 70 when I "take it easy" -- which for me obviously isn't as easy as it could be since my son clocked over 75km one time.

    But the car is just too much fun to drive enthusiastically that worrying about 1, 2 or 3 kms of range seems rather silly. Another reason the tires on the car, once used up, will be replaced by tires that don't complain every time I corner in my usual manner.
    "Christians should not hold dumb opinions about the natural world based solely on misreadings of the Bible, especially opinions that can be demonstrably falsified by Reason, lest the Faith be subject to ridicule and mockery." -- St. Augustine of Hippo.

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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    Congratulations on reaching the one year mark!

    Thank you for providing such a detailed account throughout this past year. Your posts always came across as genuine... That is, you never came across as "fudging the numbers" to create a false excuse as to why you purchased this new technology. Whenever anyone has asked me about the possibility of purchasing a Volt, friends and family often ask my opinion of cars (and few other things), it's always your posts from where I get the greatest real world knowledge of the vehicle. I've used some of what I've learned about the Volt from you in conversations, and I've actually directed a friend to read your posts here at GMI... She has since ordered a Volt of her very own!

    GM/Chevrolet thanks you...

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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    Question: given how slowly you are using fuel, do you have to use some kind of fuel stabalizer to keep the gas from going bad? Seven fillups in a year must mean some of the fuel at the bottom of the tank gets pretty old! Or does the ranges extender kick on to use up fuel before it gets old?

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    GMI Contributor Premium Member zete's Avatar
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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    Quote Originally Posted by Quixote88 View Post
    Congratulations on reaching the one year mark!

    Thank you for providing such a detailed account throughout this past year. Your posts always came across as genuine... That is, you never came across as "fudging the numbers" to create a false excuse as to why you purchased this new technology. Whenever anyone has asked me about the possibility of purchasing a Volt, friends and family often ask my opinion of cars (and few other things), it's always your posts from where I get the greatest real world knowledge of the vehicle. I've used some of what I've learned about the Volt from you in conversations, and I've actually directed a friend to read your posts here at GMI... She has since ordered a Volt of her very own!

    GM/Chevrolet thanks you...
    Most of what's above is just figures gleaned from OnStar. Why would I fudge them, that'd take effort and I'm just too lazy to do that. Same with adjusting my driving style, too lazy to change. Call it a personality flaw. Besides, it makes remembering what I said easier if I can just go look up the numbers again without having to recall any odd math.

    For example, when I first got the Volt I thought I'd only charge it off-peak. But then I thought, who cares for a dime or two more, really. So, we just plug it in and have it charge immediately as opposed to having it wait for off-peak (the car knows when off-peak happens, so you plug it in and it waits). I think a larger savings is made in not worrying about saving those few pennies and instead just charging it up.

    The one thing I didn't mention was a 240 charger. We've opted not to since we're at 83% electric and most times we can charge for a few hours before anyone might head out for the evening. I'm sure we'd have hit 84% if we had a fast charger at home, but I'd say it is so rare that we'd need to rapid charge across 3 or 4 hours that it truly doesn't matter. As I've said, being able to charge at work -- especially in winter -- would do much more good.

    The car behaves as Lutz said it would and as GM promised in the Volt's documentation. You can get better performance than what the EPA or other organizations state as expected by simply being gentle. The fact you can get the EPA numbers by driving like me shows the car was designed around an enthusiast as opposed to offering unrealistic numbers, and thus expectations, and demanding an unnatural method of driving so as to save electrons.

    Like any gearhead I'd love more power, but as a first of its kind it's an unbelievable car.
    "Christians should not hold dumb opinions about the natural world based solely on misreadings of the Bible, especially opinions that can be demonstrably falsified by Reason, lest the Faith be subject to ridicule and mockery." -- St. Augustine of Hippo.

    "Stop being dicks to the poor." Pope Francis, paraphrased.

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    GMI Contributor Premium Member zete's Avatar
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    Re: Zete's Volt at One Year!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tone View Post
    Question: given how slowly you are using fuel, do you have to use some kind of fuel stabalizer to keep the gas from going bad? Seven fillups in a year must mean some of the fuel at the bottom of the tank gets pretty old! Or does the ranges extender kick on to use up fuel before it gets old?
    No fuel stabilizers are required. GM recommends using premium fuel and the gas tank is pressurized -- which has once led to my embarrassment as I forgot how to depressurize it as it was 3 months since my prior fill up!

    Plus, the engine will come on to burn some gas after a specific number of kilometres/miles so that after a year you will have used up a goodly portion of the tank regardless. GM has truly thought of everything. Here's a shot of the message that someone has posted on the net:



    I've never seen this message because, well, we go through more than a tank a year .
    "Christians should not hold dumb opinions about the natural world based solely on misreadings of the Bible, especially opinions that can be demonstrably falsified by Reason, lest the Faith be subject to ridicule and mockery." -- St. Augustine of Hippo.

    "Stop being dicks to the poor." Pope Francis, paraphrased.

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