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Any Chevy Volt Owners
Old 01-03-2017, 10:26 AM   #1
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Any Chevy Volt Owners

I retire since June 2015 and have been having lots of fun working on cars.
I like to learned more about how the hybrid cars work, but I do not any one that owns one. Looking at the car prices, the Volt can be had for 12-15k for 2-3 year old car. I do about 95% of the work on my cars and also some family members mainly old Volvo's and Honda's.

Can you please share your experience with this car or any other hybrid cars
that you own.
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Old 01-03-2017, 10:31 AM   #2
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Will be interested to follow this discussion. Hope you get some responses.
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Old 01-03-2017, 12:04 PM   #3
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I bought a 2014 Volt last year. It was still a "new" car. The dealer listed it as 600+ days on the lot, so I got a pretty good deal. All in all, I'm getting what I expected. It's cool technology. Not perfect, but definitely can be an inexpensive car to own if you get a discount or buy used. The 2017 models have been upgraded, but here are my thoughts on the 2014 model after 11 months.

1) Powertrain. It is electric only. The batters will get you between 35-45 miles on a charge (see below). When the battery power is drained, a small 4 cylinder engine comes on to crank a generator. A lot of people think that the internal combustion engine sits next to the electric engine and the car switches over. This is false. It is electric only.

2) My effective gas mileage is about 210 miles to the gallon. I have gone from spending $2,500 on gas annually, to about $200.

3) There are two levels of trim. The higher trim has leather seats and a decent sound system.

4) It doesn't have a lot of oomph, but in "sport" mode, it accelerates pretty well. Electric motors have a lot of torque from a dead start, so it's a pretty fast car for the first 500 feet.

5) Typical range in spring/summer conditions is 45 miles with a combination of highway and city driving. (City driving and heavy traffic is actually easier on the car because of the breaking energy recapture). Winter knocks the range down. I get 35 miles, but I'm willing to let it get cold in the cabin. People who want a comfortable cabin report getting less than 30 miles of range. Cold affects the batteries' efficiency and running the heater is also a drain. Some hard core range freaks have gotten 60 or 70 miles on a battery charge in ideal conditions (maybe more). The 2017 models supposedly have an extra 10 miles of range in the batteries.

6) Cost of ownership is very very low (after the tax rebate). Cheap to insure. If you commute less than 50 miles a day you won't buy much gas. I still have about six months to go before I'll need my first oil change. I bought it because I was tired of spending money for gas, insurance and property tax on an Infiniti.

7) You only get a rebate on a new car. Used cars don't qualify. If the dealer transferred title to themselves before selling a new car, it counts as "used" and does not get the rebate. Supposedly the IRS is hassling people who claim the rebate and demanding documentation, etc. I'll see how it goes when I file my taxes this year.

8) Backseat space is limited, but I regularly drive my family of four (including two teenagers) in it. I put a snow-blower in the hatch yesterday to take it to be serviced and was able to close the hatch all the way, so it does have some decent internal volume.

9) The biggest flaws are (i) the video monitor interface and console controls and (ii) blind spots.

- Controls: There are about 20 pressure buttons on the console and something as simple as adjusting the thermostat is distracting and dangerous. Navigating through the video monitor is also terrible. I think this is a GM problem and not just a Volt problem.
- Blind spots: I've noticed this on other newer model cars. The pillars are so wide to accomodate the airbags that they create a lot of blind spots. The front pillars are actually wide enough to block the views of cyclists and motorcyles are intersections.

Hope this is helpful.
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Old 01-03-2017, 12:20 PM   #4
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Great review phil70 thanks. Being in a relatively northern clime with potential cold in the winter, I have been concerned about battery performance on electrics. Does anyone know of publications with ranges for electrics controlled for temperature?
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Old 01-03-2017, 12:25 PM   #5
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Great review phil70 thanks. Being in a relatively northern clime with potential cold in the winter, I have been concerned about battery performance on electrics. Does anyone know of publications with ranges for electrics controlled for temperature?
I don't know of any publications, but there are Volt owner forums with discussions of range (it's been a while since I looked at any). Personally, I don't think the car would be all that practical for colder climates, but I recall seeing a number of enthusiastic owners in the northeast. If you live in CA, AZ or the south, I think the car is a great possibility.

The way I look at it, my daily commute is "gas free." I only need gas for long distance trips like picking my daughter up at college, vacation, etc. BTW, I get 35 MPG (highway) when the IC engine is cranking the generator.
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Old 01-03-2017, 12:47 PM   #6
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Thanks Phil70 for the great info!

I do live in the mid west and have seen several cars on the street but more common during summer months.
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Old 01-03-2017, 01:13 PM   #7
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Thanks Phil70 for the great info!

I do live in the mid west and have seen several cars on the street but more common during summer months.
I'm midwestern as well. My wife hates the cold. She refuses to drive the Volt in the winter. Says the heater just doesn't get warm enough!

In keeping with this forum's LBYM mantra, I have to say I would never pay anything near MSRP for the car. But as your original post pointed out, you can pick them up used for a song. At that price point, they appear to be one of the cheapest cars you can own. I LOVE not stopping to get gas for months at a time. I LOVE the fact that I've gone 10,000 miles without having to change the oil. There are owners that have 250,000 miles on their Volts and have never had any significant maintenance (because the IC engine hardly ever gets used).

The other thing I'll say is that the Nissan Leaf does not even come close. Nissan skimped on their battery cooling system (they used air instead of coolant) and Leaf battery packs are already failing. Also, the Leaf does not have the range extension of the Volt. If I leave my house in the morning with a full battery and full tank of gas, I have 400 miles of range. I fill up the gas tank like a normal car and have unlimited range (although I hate watching my life-time efficiency rating go down on the monitor).
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Old 01-03-2017, 01:33 PM   #8
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I'm mid western as well. My wife hates the cold. She refuses to drive the Volt in the winter. Says the heater just doesn't get warm enough!

I seem to remember reading some forums that GM has a procedure for fixing the problem with the heater which I assume is electric. You can contact GM/ asked the dealer where you bought it or do a quick search to see if it is posted some where.
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Old 01-03-2017, 01:34 PM   #9
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I do not have a Volt, but have owned a bought new Prius since Nov 2003. I will buy another one when this one finally dies or becomes too annoying to maintain. It runs great now. You will probably get more info on the Volt owner forums, but i would not consider a car with a weak heater as is described here in a cold climate, but then i hate the cold so YMMV. Prius's have plenty of pep in highway driving and yes with the high torque also start fast. Interior comfort both climate and seating is great. However, I know here in GA at least you cannot get one 2yrs old for only 12K, more like 2 1/2 times that. Good luck. Let us know what you end up getting.
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Old 01-03-2017, 01:52 PM   #10
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............Can you please share your experience with this car or any other hybrid cars that you own.
I've had an Escape hybrid for 10 years. The hybrid portion of the SUV has been flawless, though I have had a lot of front suspension issues not related to the hybrid function. It gets good mileage, but I won't replace it with another hybrid, as I need more towing capacity (it is rated for 1000#, I regularly tow a 1500# trailer, but not in the mountains).

Initially I had a lot of fun exploring the technology and sharing on hybrid forums, but the novelty is over and gasoline looks like it will remain relatively cheap. Looking at resale, it appears that there is no premium at this age, in this area of the country. Maybe a negative premium.
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Old 01-03-2017, 01:58 PM   #11
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I do not have a Volt, but have owned a bought new Prius since Nov 2003. I will buy another one when this one finally dies or becomes too annoying to maintain. It runs great now. You will probably get more info on the Volt owner forums, but i would not consider a car with a weak heater as is described here in a cold climate, but then i hate the cold so YMMV. Prius's have plenty of pep in highway driving and yes with the high torque also start fast. Interior comfort both climate and seating is great. However, I know here in GA at least you cannot get one 2yrs old for only 12K, more like 2 1/2 times that. Good luck. Let us know what you end up getting.
Can you share what you describe as annoying to maintain. Is it the hybrid portion, the gas side of things or probably just old stuff like suspension work.
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Old 01-03-2017, 01:59 PM   #12
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I would consider a Volt to be a good toad for an RV because with a little bit of tinkering you could have a heck of a power plant when boondocking. 40 miles on battery should equal an entire night of running the air conditioner in an RV.
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Old 01-03-2017, 02:07 PM   #13
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I would consider a Volt to be a good toad for an RV because with a little bit of tinkering you could have a heck of a power plant when boondocking. 40 miles on battery should equal an entire night of running the air conditioner in an RV.
I've heard of people buying surplus DC-AC converters that can tap into the 300 or so volt DC output from the motor generators and getting 110 volt AC. Maybe NW can build you one.
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Old 01-03-2017, 03:27 PM   #14
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I'm mid western as well. My wife hates the cold. She refuses to drive the Volt in the winter. Says the heater just doesn't get warm enough!
Is it possible to force the IC engine to come on (does it have a "regular" heater core that works using engine coolant?). Being able to get the cabin of the car (and maybe the batteries, and the windshield) warmed up using waste heat from the little IC engine would be a real plus, and well worth running the engine on days when it is bitterly cold.
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Old 01-03-2017, 03:49 PM   #15
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I bought a 2014 Volt last year. ...

1) Powertrain. It is electric only. The batters will get you between 35-45 miles on a charge (see below). When the battery power is drained, a small 4 cylinder engine comes on to crank a generator. A lot of people think that the internal combustion engine sits next to the electric engine and the car switches over. This is false. It is electric only. ...
Where did you get that info from? Every review and description I've read says that in certain modes, the engine works mechanically in parallel with the electric motors. It's just a way to get a bit more efficiency. The losses of converting rotary motion to electricity (ICE running the generator), and then converting that electrical energy back to rotary motion (the motor), were higher than mechanical coupling of the engine at certain speeds.

Some 'greenies' seemed to be upset about that, like it wasn't a 'real' series hybrid. Who cares, efficiency is the key?

From wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt#Drivetrain
Quote:
While in this series mode at higher speeds and loads, (typically above 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) at light to moderate loads) the gasoline engine can engage mechanically to the output from the transmission and assist both electric motors in driving the wheels, in which case the Volt operates as a power-split or series-parallel hybrid. After its all-electric range has been depleted, at speeds between 30 to 70 miles per hour (48 to 113 km/h), the Volt is programmed to select the most efficient drive mode, which improves performance and boosts high-speed efficiency by 10 to 15 percent.[23][78]
Plenty of other sources will tell you the same thing:

Unbolting the Chevy Volt to See How it Ticks - Motor Trend

Quote:
Yes, Virginia, the Chevy Volt’s gas engine does turn the wheels.
If you want to see a true series hybrid, check put the WrightSpeed delivery trucks - gas turbine running a generator charging batteries. Electric motor drive only (not easy to couple a 100,000 rpm turbine to truck wheels).

The Route Powertrain | Wrightspeed Powertrains

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Old 01-03-2017, 04:25 PM   #16
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Re: turbine coupling to truck wheels.

Helicopter turbines run main rotors at typically 400 to 500 rpm. Not that difficult. Barely below idle speed of most ICE engines.
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Old 01-03-2017, 04:31 PM   #17
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Can you share what you describe as annoying to maintain. Is it the hybrid portion, the gas side of things or probably just old stuff like suspension work.

Sorry i was not clear..........car is not annoying YET at all to maintain..i just said IF it became so. As far as details are concerned, so far just oil changes, tune-ups, tires, brakes once each front and rear, starter battery, filters (air and cabin, which is about the only thing I can do myself with my arthritis) and the biggie was replacement of the hybrid battery pack in early 2014 for $3300...much less than the $10k they were going for when I first got the car. She runs great still. So i have to keep moving my date in my major purchases spreadsheet for a new car from 2014 to 2017 to ?.
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Old 01-03-2017, 05:57 PM   #18
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Sorry i was not clear..........car is not annoying YET at all to maintain..i just said IF it became so. As far as details are concerned, so far just oil changes, tune-ups, tires, brakes once each front and rear, starter battery, filters (air and cabin, which is about the only thing I can do myself with my arthritis) and the biggie was replacement of the hybrid battery pack in early 2014 for $3300...much less than the $10k they were going for when I first got the car. She runs great still. So i have to keep moving my date in my major purchases spreadsheet for a new car from 2014 to 2017 to ?.
If you knew you were going to keep a Prius or any vehicle with batteries, it'd be a good idea to accrue $300 per year into a savings account for battery replacement.

The Prius was strong enough to get Al Gore III a ticket for running 98 mph.

I've not driven a Prius, but I've driven the Lexus RX400H, and the electric motor is as much for performance as for fuel mileage. It's a seamless system--impressive.

Glad your car's doing so well. The electrics and hybrid electrics are the cars of the present--and of the future. Driving our big SUV's and pickup trucks is just a temporary pleasure.
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Old 01-03-2017, 06:01 PM   #19
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Sorry i was not clear..........car is not annoying YET at all to maintain..i just said IF it became so. As far as details are concerned, so far just oil changes, tune-ups, tires, brakes once each front and rear, starter battery, filters (air and cabin, which is about the only thing I can do myself with my arthritis) and the biggie was replacement of the hybrid battery pack in early 2014 for $3300...much less than the $10k they were going for when I first got the car. She runs great still. So i have to keep moving my date in my major purchases spreadsheet for a new car from 2014 to 2017 to ?.

Thanks for the great info!!!

How old was the battery pack on the car and was this consider an unusual thing to replace at this age??
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Old 01-03-2017, 06:59 PM   #20
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Re: turbine coupling to truck wheels.

Helicopter turbines run main rotors at typically 400 to 500 rpm. Not that difficult. Barely below idle speed of most ICE engines.
Yes, but a truck (or car) wheel is only going to be ~ 700 RPM maximum ( @ ~ 60 mph), so 70 rpm @ 6 mph, and zero as you take off from a stop. I don't know much about helicopters, but I'm pretty sure they have variable pitch blades, so they could be turning at 500 rpm, but essentially be 'idling' (blades flat).

Some sources are saying the big advantage in helicopters is power to weight, not quite as important in a (non-flying - when are we gonna get those!) car.

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