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Chris_V
Chris_V UltraDork
3/1/13 3:53 p.m.

I still plan to add the 240V charging station in the garage, but it's not absolutely necessary. And for me, right now the kid's project truck is in the garage, so the Volt sits in the drivewy anyhow.

Chris_V
Chris_V UltraDork
3/1/13 3:54 p.m.
JG Pasterjak wrote: Here it is with the wheels: Man it was tricky to find wheels for that thing. And even so, I had to run some 5/16 spacers in the front and put longer studs in. Haven't done the KWs yet. Needs to get A/B testing with the wheel upgrade first. jg

Interesting to hear. Tire Rack lists a lot of wheels for it, but they are probably all to heavy or otherwise unsuitable.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
3/1/13 3:56 p.m.
OHSCrifle wrote: Did you have to add a 220V power line in the garage?

Didn't have to, but I did. Charges are ever so much faster. I did the GE Wattstation since it's weather rated and it's mounted on an outside wall since we park in the driveway. $1000 and we did the install ourselves (helps to have a dad who's a former licensed electrical contractor). And I think I get some money back from the government for it as well. Also, it makes a satisfying "chunk" when it closes the circuit.

jg

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
3/1/13 3:58 p.m.
Chris_V wrote:
JG Pasterjak wrote: Here it is with the wheels: Man it was tricky to find wheels for that thing. And even so, I had to run some 5/16 spacers in the front and put longer studs in. Haven't done the KWs yet. Needs to get A/B testing with the wheel upgrade first. jg

Interesting to hear. Tire Rack lists a lot of wheels for it, but they are probably all to heavy or otherwise unsuitable.

Yeah, those Focals were the only things we found that clocked in under about 26lbs. They're just a hair under 21lbs each. Stock wheels are 18 each, but the Toyos are about a pound lighter than the stock run flats, so we only added about 1.5 lbs to the entire assembly.

jg

OHSCrifle
OHSCrifle Reader
3/1/13 8:16 p.m.
JG Pasterjak wrote: Didn't have to, but I did. Charges are ever so much faster. I did the GE Wattstation since it's weather rated and it's mounted on an outside wall since we park in the driveway. $1000 and we did the install ourselves (helps to have a dad who's a former licensed electrical contractor). And I think I get some money back from the government for it as well. Also, it makes a satisfying "chunk" when it closes the circuit. jg

Cool. I entertained getting a Leaf, since (at the end of 2012) it could be leased for about the same money I spend every month on gas.. but I decided a paid-for vehicle was cheaper still - due to no up front costs for charging station, etc.

Chris_V
Chris_V UltraDork
3/4/13 7:35 a.m.
JG Pasterjak wrote: Yeah, those Focals were the only things we found that clocked in under about 26lbs. They're just a hair under 21lbs each. Stock wheels are 18 each, but the Toyos are about a pound lighter than the stock run flats, so we only added about 1.5 lbs to the entire assembly. jg

How do the Toyos change the driving dynamics and affect range/mileage?

Chris_V
Chris_V UltraDork
3/18/13 1:48 p.m.

Well, the first month is about up. Other than that first weekend, I haven't put gas in it, and it added about $20 to the electric bill (well, that's the difference in the bill from last year at this time, we did drop the electric bill overall from the previous month due to warming up a little). Basically all my commuting and errand running has been done on electricity, with only a few of the longer hops done with the gas generator running to hold the power for when I got to my destination. (about 50 miles on gas total since that first weekend).

It's actually amazing to me how far 30-40 miles is when doing commuting and errand running. I've yet to get back home with less than 10 miles of electric range remaining.

I've take more people for rides in it and all of them are impressed with the power, comfort, and just the feel of the electric motor.

Some gripes, however. I wish it would remember what mode you were in when you parked it. I like Sport mode a lot and it's annoying to have to select it every time you start the car up.

Same for the charging level. It defaults to 8 amp, which takes 8-12 hours to charge from "empty." It has a charge mode for 120V that is 12amps and that charges quite a bit faster. But you have to select it every time you shut the car off before you plug it in, and it's kind of buried in a menu. Yeah, if I used the 240V charger this would not be an issue, but I don't have one yet.

And even though the seat heaters do a nice job of making you feel warm on a cold morning before the car warms up, a steering wheel heater would be a nice addition. I got used to it on the BMW, and it really takes the edge off of freezing mornings, where the car doesn't ever really get "warm" inside.

It could use another 3" of rear seat legroom, too, for taller passengers.

The bigass liftback will let a small amount of snow or rain into the back seat when it's all the way open.

Other than that, however, I'm quite happy with it so far, and I'm still surprised when I drive it that it's an electric car. I just wish it would warm up around here so I could see what warm weather range is like.

Chris_V
Chris_V UltraDork
7/22/13 9:57 a.m.

6000 mile update. I love it. It's reasonably quick (280 lb ft of torque at "idle" will do that) and fun to drive, with decent handling and a bit of a sporty feeling. I drive with the trans in Low and with Sport mode engaged for better throttle tip in and agressive regen "braking" when you let off the throttle. The EV thrust is smooth and quiet and actually feels like a big engine luxury car (much like my 740iL). If you drive in D and in normal mode, it feels completely different, as there is little regen and it will coast forever, and you also have to use more throttle travel to make it accelerate quickly. Most people leave it in Normal and D for the test drive. Salesmen don't usually even know that there are other modes. You can use L gear all the way up to 100 mph, as it's not really another gear ratio, it just mimics the engine braking of a lower gear ratio by making regen aggressive. It's aggressive enough that I've been able to add a couple miles of range to the car just coming off an offramp of the highway and letting low gear slow the car and put energy back into the battery.

I find the premium leather seats to be more comfortable, and in my case, the Pebble Beige gives suede inserts on the seats and door panels (the black leather interior has no suede and the door panel inserts are smooth plastic.). The base interior is cloth, and it feels kind of cheap, to me. I'd definitely spring for one of the premium interiors. Also, there is a choice, with the black or base interiors, to have the center stack and instrument binnacle to be glossy white plastic or charcoal grey. I prefer the charcoal grey.

About 4 months back, my wife took it on a 1500 mile weeklong trip to CT and back, so she used some gasoline (it got over 50 mpg highway, even though it's only rated at 37, but theres a reason for that, as using hold mode works great). But since that time, I've gone another 4 months without putting fuel in it at all. I have used a couple gallons of gas, since one trip I went 65 miles in one day with no recharge, and a couple other times I used the 2013's "hold" mode to use gas on the highway in order to save electric range for city use.

Hold mode , like I said in the OP, allows you to use the gas generator when it's most efficient, and the pure EV modes for when they are most efficient. By using hold mode, the generator runs to "hold" the battery charge at whatever level it was on when you changed modes. It'll actually build charge and then shut the engine down while you are driving, as the engine is not used to drive the wheels, until you are doing close to 100 mph (I've had it over 80 mph in normal and sport modes and the engine never fires up...). By using Hold mode, you can improve engine efficiency on the highway to get closer to 60 mpg (lowest I've seen if 45 mpg). The car is rated at 37 mpg because the EPA tested it in normal mode and let the engine run after the battery was depleted, at which point you're using it to not only maintain the battery charge, but run at low speeds in town where it's just not as efficient.

Battery range has increased as the weather warms up. I've gone the equivalent of 60 miles on a charge (used 5 kWh to go 30 miles), and gone the 8 miles one way to work on an indicated 2 miles of range, and I don't hypermile. I just drive it like a normal car.

Battery range is also affected by using the climate control settings. Fan only is what it says, and runs only the fans. Not bad most of the time, and uses very little power, so you maximize range. Eco is a setting that allows limited heating and AC (it uses electric heat and AC powered by the main battery pack), and works well to maintain temps even at local extremes (I've driven the car in as low as 15 degrees and as warm as 100 degrees since I've had it). Comfort is the max setting and will reduce range by a couple miles, but cools nicely in 95-100 degree heat (I use it to get it to temp in the cabin, then switch to Eco to maintain). In the winter, using the seat heaters will do wonders for inproving range vs using the cabin heater. I just wish it had a heated steering wheel.

The Volt does not drive the wheels with the gas engine EXCEPT in certain rare instances which I've never experienced.

I charge the car every night with the stock 120V charger. It's habit to pull in, pop the cover and plug in. Takes about 10 seconds to do. There are two charge modes on 120v (and one 240V mode if you have a Level 2 charger). On basic charge (8 amp draw) it'll take about 10 hours to charge. On the high draw charge (12 amp draw) it'll take about 6 hours to charge fully. But since I rarely use more than half the range in daily use (I only go 15-25 miles per day in commuting and errand running) I usually charge in 4 hours with the 120v charger even on the 8a draw. After 6 months, it seems that I'm actually using about $8 in electricity (the $20 I mentioned before was a calculation based on the previous year, but actual montly bills have come in less than that vs the same time the previous years)

If you guys test drive one, make sure of two things: 1) make sure the car is charged (so many aren't) and then 2) drive for a bit in mormal mode (default) and D. Then put it in Sport mode and Low gear (they drive all the way up to 100 mph in low gear). Feel the difference in torque delivery for throttle position, and engine braking in Low. Punch it repeatedly from about 15-20 mph. Giggle a bunch. Seriously.

Some of the negative things...

The flexible air dam is quite low and scrapes on everything.

I still wish it had a heated steering wheel, but I bought some conductive gloves to wear in the winter (so that the touch sensitive buttons and screen could still be used)

I wish it retained sport mode when you shut it off, instead of having to select it every time I start the car up.

On those lines, as i mentioned before, I wish it retained the charge mode every time, in stead of having to select 12a charging every time I shut the car off before I plug it in. Normally I leave it in 8a mode as I don't need it charged until late, but if I could leave it in 12a mode, that would be cool.

Rear legroom is kind of tight. I never need 5 passenger seating, so 4 seats is fine, but a 6 footer doesn't fit well in back for longer trips.

Lastly, the A pillars are huge and do interfere a bit with blind left turns, as the drive'rs side pillar tends to block a lot of what's coming at you and can make it harder to place the car in faster twisties or parking lots. This is a problem I've seen in a lot of new cars, though, in trying to make rollover protection better.

aircooled
aircooled PowerDork
7/22/13 10:32 a.m.

Perhaps it defaults to the 8 amp charge because that is easier on the battery pack?

mtn
mtn UltimaDork
7/22/13 10:43 a.m.
Chris_V wrote: Lastly, the A pillars are huge and do interfere a bit with blind left turns, as the drive'rs side pillar tends to block a lot of what's coming at you and can make it harder to place the car in faster twisties or parking lots. This is a problem I've seen in a lot of new cars, though, in trying to make rollover protection better.

Sadly I think that you are right, and this is going to be true of pretty much all new cars for the forseable future.

Slippery
Slippery Reader
7/22/13 11:09 a.m.

Is there a way to "force" the generator on?

I see you mentioned that you did not have to add gas for 4 months, and I wonder if that is good for the car.

mtn
mtn UltimaDork
7/22/13 11:11 a.m.
Slippery wrote: Is there a way to "force" the generator on? I see you mentioned that you did not have to add gas for 4 months, and I wonder if that is good for the car.

Sounds like every fill up should come with Sta-bil.

Chris_V
Chris_V UltraDork
7/22/13 11:44 a.m.
Slippery wrote: Is there a way to "force" the generator on? I see you mentioned that you did not have to add gas for 4 months, and I wonder if that is good for the car.

Sure, run it in Hold mode. it "holds" the charge at whatever level you had it at by running the generator.

Also, there's a program to run the generator for limited amounts of time every once in a while if it hasn't been run to use the gas and keep the engine lubed. Basically even if you never use the generator, it WILL run the generator to use up the gas in the tank so it doesn't go bad over the course of a year or so. Since I've used the generator in hold mode, though, I've never seen that program in operation.

I haven't put gas in it for 4 months, but I HAVE used the generator in that time, just not very often. It's a 9.3 gallon tank and in 4 months I've used about 2 gallons, running on hold mode on the highway.

Chris_V
Chris_V UltraDork
7/22/13 11:46 a.m.
aircooled wrote: Perhaps it defaults to the 8 amp charge because that is easier on the battery pack?

Supposedly it's to counteract bad house wiring. 8 amp draw is easier on the house (and though it's not recommended, can be used with a heavy duty extension cord as well without melting things), considering often the plugs are on a circuit that is already closing in on max capacity. The battery pack can use 240v fast charging all the time, so it doesn't care about the 8a/12a 120v charging rates.

Knurled
Knurled UberDork
7/22/13 1:12 p.m.
mtn wrote:
Slippery wrote: Is there a way to "force" the generator on? I see you mentioned that you did not have to add gas for 4 months, and I wonder if that is good for the car.

Sounds like every fill up should come with Sta-bil.

I'd imagine that it has a fancy total-seal evap system so the fuel shouldn't evaporate the good stuff away over time.

Slippery
Slippery Reader
7/23/13 9:21 p.m.

Is this car a 4 seater only or is it available without that armrest out back? Any way to seat three kids in the back seat?

This is one of the few electric cars that intrigues me.

rebelgtp
rebelgtp UltraDork
7/23/13 9:25 p.m.
Javelin wrote: Man, I'm really thinking one of these will be SWMBO's next car... *Love* that color!

Mine would kill me for even suggesting it. She is die hard trucks, jeeps and classic cars.

poopshovel
poopshovel MegaDork
7/23/13 9:30 p.m.

Great writeup man. Exciting times we live in.

Nathan JansenvanDoorn
Nathan JansenvanDoorn Dork
7/24/13 7:33 a.m.

Great thread. If I could get the same lease rates you get in the States, I'd have one in our driveway. A 24 or 36 month lease is in the $800/month range here in Canada.

Ashyukun
Ashyukun HalfDork
7/24/13 8:17 a.m.

If the GF didn't insist she needed a SUV for the rare times when she drives someplace with her very large dog, I'd be strongly pushing for her getting one of these since she has a fairly long (but well under the range of the car) commute several times a week.

I've for a long time said that if my Saturn were to get wrecked and I needed a replacement DD that I'd just track down another S-series, but I'm increasingly thinking I'd take it as an opportunity to check out one of the electrics since the leases are pretty affordable these days.

foxtrapper
foxtrapper PowerDork
7/24/13 8:36 a.m.
Chris_V wrote: 6000 mile update. I love it.

That alone about says it all.

It really is one of the most interesting hybrids, and I agree with you that GM isn't marketing it worth a darn. Which is a shame.

The Volt and the lowely Honda Civic hybrid seem to be the most driveable and usefull hybrids out there. No personal experience with the Volt, but the Honda Civic model feels like a car when you drive it. Nothing particularly weird about it.

Chris_V
Chris_V UltraDork
7/24/13 8:40 a.m.
Slippery wrote: Is this car a 4 seater only or is it available without that armrest out back? Any way to seat three kids in the back seat?

Unfortunalty, no, this is strictly a 4 seater, due to the battery running down the middle of the car (though the armrest pops out to make a flat load floor when the seats are folded down). GM did a lot of studying on commuter cars and found that most people drive with one or maybe two others in the car, so they decided that a 4 seater would be fine, like the Panamera and Rapide. lol! There ARE plans for a Volt based CUV later, and they showed what was essentially a Volt styled Orlando a couple years back.

Apparenlty the new Chevy Spark EV lowered the battery pack a bit and got 5 person seating with a similar layout, but it's a pure EV without the range extender.

Flight Service
Flight Service MegaDork
7/24/13 8:48 a.m.
Chris_V wrote: Blue Topaz with the Pebble Beige leather and suede interior (fairly rare color combo) with heated seats and the leather as the only options (no nav or backup cameras or expensive BOSE speakers, which is fine by me).

LOVE the color combination, nice ride

ZOO
ZOO SuperDork
7/24/13 9:05 a.m.

Kudos to GM -- I think this would be an ideal everyday car, if I was willing to spend that much.

Chris_V
Chris_V UltraDork
7/24/13 3:36 p.m.
ZOO wrote: Kudos to GM -- I think this would be an ideal everyday car, if I was willing to spend that much.

That's why I leased it. Not spending that much, and keeps the total budget low. And now, with $4k back on 2013s, it's even lower priced to lease (you should be able to get a basic Volt for around $250/month, which, with the gas savings, makes it dirt cheap to drive).

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