The Volt was created as a vehicle designed to minimize gas use, and thus it’s not been marketed as a vehicle capable of self-charging. If you are really determined to drive your Volt on battery power (as opposed to gas-generated electricity), and have no opportunities to plug your Volt into the wall to get a charge, you can do this:
1. If the battery is fully depleted, switch to Mountain Mode, either while driving in moderate conditions or while parked. Within about 15 minutes, the Gen 1 battery will be recharged to the MM-maintained level (~4 bars, around 14-15 miles). The Gen 2 MM-maintained buffer is ~2 bars (~10-12 miles), so it might take less time.
2. Switch back to Normal. You might need to turn the Volt off and back on again to regain access to the use of this MM-recharged battery power. If you turn the car off and back on again, the distances driven on MM-recharged battery power will probably count as Electric Miles without changing the kWh Used numbers.
Using MM to recharge a fully depleted battery gives you an ev range of ~14 miles (Gen 1) or ~11 miles (Gen 2). Battery powered miles! For some, that might cover their daily commute.
3. If you have some wall battery power, or if you’re now running on MM-recharged power, each time your ev range drops to ~1 mile as you drive, switch to MM, then switch back to Normal after MM has recharged the battery to the MM-maintained level (10-15 minutes later). These MM-recharged battery miles may be recorded as Gas Miles, but they will be battery powered miles.
4. Note that using MM to recharge the Volt battery is the most fuel efficient way to run the Volt’s generator... the gas engine runs at maximum output until the battery is recharged (max fuel efficiency), rather than being turned off and on as needed to generate power as needed by the motor to push the car down the street.
Using MM to recharge your Volt battery whenever the ev range drops below one full bar will increase the portion of time you drive on battery power (as opposed to driving on gas-generated electricity). Your ev% and miles driven stats may become even more meaningless as more non-grid power battery miles are added to the Electric Miles totals rather than to the Gas Miles. I can’t begin to guess what effect MM-powered miles would have on the Gen 2's MPGe numbers because those numbers already ignore any regen created and used during the trip.
If you could use MM to fully recharge a fully depleted Gen 1 Volt battery, it would take about one gallon of gas to do so, i.e., the cost of recharging the Gen 1 battery via MM would be the price of a gallon of gas vs the cost of ~12 kWh of electricity from the wall (or whatever the cost at a public recharging station). I suspect it would take about 1.25 gallons of gas to fully recharge a fully depleted Gen 2 battery using MM (the price of 1.25 gallons of gas vs the cost of ~16.65 kWh of electricity from the wall). That might be a better price than using public recharging facilities, and it’s much faster.
Because it’s more fuel efficient to run the generator engine constantly to recharge the battery than to turn it on and off as needed while creating output to fuel the motor pushing the car down the road, using one gallon of gas to recharge the Gen 1 battery via MM would get you 35-38 ev miles (window sticker, full charge ev miles), whereas using one gallon of gas as you drive in Extended Range Mode would get you 37 mpg, i.e., just about the same.
For the Gen 2, using 1.25 gallons of gas to recharge the Gen 2 battery via MM if it were possible would get you 53 ev miles (window sticker, full charge ev miles), and using the same 1.25 gallons of gas to drive in Extended Range Mode would get you, @42 mpg, 52.5 miles, i.e., just about the same.
What has yet to be discussed is the impact, if any, frequent rapid recharging of the Volt battery by using Mountain Mode has on battery longevity.