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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've scoped the forum for a few minutes, and have read a bit in the past as well, and gather that the manual requires (not suggests, but requires) premium unleaded, and that's the way it is.

However, I wasn't readily able to find information about making a more radical modification to a gen1 Volt to allow the gasoline side to function as a flex-fuel vehicle and run E85. Would this just be completely impossible to do in a way that would not run a great risk of ruining the engine or ruining something else? Is there a thread where this has been discussed?

Note that I don't have a PHEV yet, and even if this were possible, perhaps it would cost a lot of money both up-front and in assuming some risk of damaging the car. I'm asking the question mainly for broader discussion/interest purposes, and much less for the possibility that I might do it. One additional question might be whether a different PHEV (such as a Fusion Energi) would be better-suited to such a flex fuel modification?
 

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Why risk voiding the 8 year 100k mile powertrain warranty? The same thing goes to the gen1 owners using regular instead of premium.

The EV portion of the car goes a long way in making you eco friendly. That little bit of e85 vs. premium isn't as big of a difference maker.
 

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You should be able to do a search for E85 and find at least a few topics on the subject. The Volt, as a concept, was originally introduced with E85/flex fuel, but that was dropped during development.

To my knowledge, no one has successfully cracked the Volt's CAN bus code which would allow for tuning to run on E85. One person claimed to, but they were not very forthcoming with proof. I know from experience with tuning for E85 that you are very limited on what you can do from a software perspective, because you also need a fuel pump and injectors that will support the higher volume of fuel that you need to produce the same amount of energy as gasoline. The software is needed primarily to control the injector duty cycle and AF ratios.

As with anything automotive, you can attempt modifications at your own risk, but don't count on anything being fixed under warranty. Personally, I don't think it is worth converting the Volt over to run on E85, but that is because there is no real purpose. You aren't going to increase power. You will lose efficiency. And the economic benefits just aren't there. When I tuned my previous car with E85, the benefit was an immediate increase of about 30-40 hp. You won't see that in the Volt.
 

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The Volt was originally intended to run E85, but they ran into a few snags, possibly financial due to the market crash, possibly EPA and despite being promised several times, it never really happened. Yes, you can run it on E85 if you don't mind buying HP Tuners (or know someone who does), but that'd get you an E85 only vehicle. Fuelverine (a forum member) has already done it (without larger injectors): http://www.fuelverine.com/portfolio-view/2013-chevrolet-volt/

Most of us just run on battery except for the occasional trip out of town so don't use much gas. I use about 2 gallons a month.

If you have access to a blender pump (or don't mind blending your own), your best bet would be to fill with E30, which has a little higher octane than premium and similar mileage. Although you can run as high as E50 in a Gen1 Volt, you'll get much better mileage with an E85-only tune.
 

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The Volt was originally intended to run E85, but they ran into a few snags, possibly financial due to the market crash, possibly EPA and despite being promised several times, it never really happened. Yes, you can run it on E85 if you don't mind buying HP Tuners (or know someone who does), but that'd get you an E85 only vehicle. Fuelverine (a forum member) has already done it (without larger injectors): http://www.fuelverine.com/portfolio-view/2013-chevrolet-volt/

Most of us just run on battery except for the occasional trip out of town so don't use much gas. I use about 2 gallons a month.

If you have access to a blender pump (or don't mind blending your own), your best bet would be to fill with E30, which has a little higher octane than premium and similar mileage. Although you can run as high as E50 in a Gen1 Volt, you'll get much better mileage with an E85-only tune.
Thanks for the link. I don't think I had seen Fuelverine's page yet, but this would be concerning to me:

All the E85 tables are already filled out, though the fuel injectors are rather small so I’m slowly stepping up from my ~E55 blend.
While you're not likely to go lean enough to damage the engine, you are putting added stress on the injectors, which will decrease their life.
 

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Fuelverine converts vehicles to alternate fuels for a living, ethanol, methanol and/or propane. When I last visited with him, he still wanted to create a "proper" tune with complete e85 tables and determine injector duty cycle. Unfortunately he got laid off and no longer has HP Tuners software (or a dyno) to finish the project, which is slowing down progress.

Here's more reading material where he goes by "Engimuneer": http://e85vehicles.com/e85/index.php?/topic/6972-anyone-have-a-chevy-volt-running-on-e85/ Note that forum is backwards so you'll probably have to start on the bottom of page 2, then page 1.

Sorry, I shouldn't have said, "E85-only" tune. The tune is set with stoich being about E50-55 and with timing optimized for mileage with higher blends, but it still should be able to do lower blends as well, since the E78 ecu is good with knock retard. Fuelverine says he finds that GM vehicles usually like another 2-4 degrees of timing advance, starting about 2000 rpm.
 

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Why risk voiding the 8 year 100k mile powertrain warranty? The same thing goes to the gen1 owners using regular instead of premium.
Provide proof from actual GM document that using "regular" gasoline voids power train warranty.
 

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Provide proof from actual GM document that using "regular" gasoline voids power train warranty.
The way it's stated in the ELR manual is:
"Use premium unleaded gasoline
meeting ASTM specification D4814
with a posted octane rating of 91 or
higher. If the octane is less than 91,
damage to the engine may occur
and may void the vehicle warranty.
If heavy knocking is heard when
using gasoline rated at 91 octane or
higher, the engine needs service."
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You should be able to do a search for E85 and find at least a few topics on the subject. The Volt, as a concept, was originally introduced with E85/flex fuel, but that was dropped during development.

To my knowledge, no one has successfully cracked the Volt's CAN bus code which would allow for tuning to run on E85. One person claimed to, but they were not very forthcoming with proof. I know from experience with tuning for E85 that you are very limited on what you can do from a software perspective, because you also need a fuel pump and injectors that will support the higher volume of fuel that you need to produce the same amount of energy as gasoline. The software is needed primarily to control the injector duty cycle and AF ratios.

As with anything automotive, you can attempt modifications at your own risk, but don't count on anything being fixed under warranty. Personally, I don't think it is worth converting the Volt over to run on E85, but that is because there is no real purpose. You aren't going to increase power. You will lose efficiency. And the economic benefits just aren't there. When I tuned my previous car with E85, the benefit was an immediate increase of about 30-40 hp. You won't see that in the Volt.
Thanks for all the various responses.

Responding here to the notion that there is "no real purpose", I guess I'd say this:

For some people, including myself, a renewable fuel PHEV has been a high-level goal of clean energy vehicle advocacy and development for many years. Whether the goal is reduced carbon footprint (out of AGCC concerns) or reduced drawing of non-renewable fossil fuel resources in general, or specifically from OPEC, a BEV accomplishes these things, but so can a biofuel PHEV.

While I am personally very unlikely to pull this off (I don't have the time, money or expertise) I think it is worth at least asking the question as to how far away from do-able modifications the Gen1 landed after GM nixed the idea in development.

From what I can tell so far (subject to revision), given the concerns about stale fuel, and the fact that even folks who know what they're doing have not frequently pulled this off, it sounds like the answer is that this would be a difficult goal for most Gen1 owners - it would be maybe somewhat easier if they really knew what they were doing (as far as do-it-yourself), or had access to enough cash to pay someone else, afford the risks, etc.
 

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Responding here to the notion that there is "no real purpose", I guess I'd say this:

For some people, including myself, a renewable fuel PHEV has been a high-level goal of clean energy vehicle advocacy and development for many years. Whether the goal is reduced carbon footprint (out of AGCC concerns) or reduced drawing of non-renewable fossil fuel resources in general, or specifically from OPEC, a BEV accomplishes these things, but so can a biofuel PHEV.
The "green" and "renewable" aspects of E85 are debatable. I acknowledge that it is a noble effort, but in a vehicle like the Volt, you are going to see less of an impact than if you converted a different vehicle to E85. The Volt uses very little gas, but the times you are using gas, you will use 30% more E85. Consequently, that means for every 10 gallons of gasoline you use, you will still be burning 2 gallons of gasoline if you were running on E85 instead. So you are reducing your reliance on a non-renewable fuel, but you might be better served focusing elsewhere.

For example, most states still have very dirty power grids run off of non-renewable fuels (primarily natural gas), so the addition of solar panels to offset peak usage of natural gas will have a greater impact in a car like the Volt than running it off of E85. The reason is that most Volt owners will do a majority of their driving using electricity from the power grid.

While I am personally very unlikely to pull this off (I don't have the time, money or expertise) I think it is worth at least asking the question as to how far away from do-able modifications the Gen1 landed after GM nixed the idea in development.
I agree that it is worth asking, but regardless of your motivation, I just don't feel that there is a ROI for Volt owners to transition to E85.
 

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If you are suggesting that corn fuel is a renewable energy source, I disagree. In my lifetime, I have seen cornfields in the Midwest degraded from rich prairie loam to red clay subsoil through erosion and abusive monoculture. Purchasing ethanol fuel merely encourages corporate farmers to destroy and sterilize more acres of our nation, while contaminating our drinking water.
 

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When I tuned my previous car with E85, the benefit was an immediate increase of about 30-40 hp. You won't see that in the Volt.
WRX? EVO? DSM? GTR? :) I figure it something with a turbo :D

Keith

PS:Easy peasy conversion if you want to ONLY run E-85 (not be flex fuel) is put in a high flow fuel pump and injectors that are 25% larger than the stock injectors. The stock ECU has enough adjustment range to run fine on E-85 with that setup.
 

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WRX? EVO? DSM? GTR? :) I figure it something with a turbo :D

Keith

PS:Easy peasy conversion if you want to ONLY run E-85 (not be flex fuel) is put in a high flow fuel pump and injectors that are 25% larger than the stock injectors. The stock ECU has enough adjustment range to run fine on E-85 with that setup.
Yeah. I was messing around with my EVO X. I didn't push it too hard because I didn't want to make hardware adjustments (just software).
 

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The way it's stated in the ELR manual is:
"Use premium unleaded gasoline
meeting ASTM specification D4814
with a posted octane rating of 91 or
higher. If the octane is less than 91,
damage to the engine may occur
and may void the vehicle warranty.
If heavy knocking is heard when
using gasoline rated at 91 octane or
higher, the engine needs service."
Thanks Volt11 for the prompt response. I'm pretty sure the Volt manual has a similar paragraph. Alas, people will still not heed the owners manual and do whatever. Crazy if you ask me.
 

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Alas, people will still not heed the owners manual and do whatever. Crazy if you ask me.



Not nearly as crazy as expecting a 'one-size-fits-all' owner's manual blanket octane rating statement to be applicable to all folks at all the possible varying altitudes!:rolleyes:
 

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I believe the actual cost for a manufacturer to produce a car to be E85-compatible works out to about $100 - $200 per vehicle based on several sources online. One of the reasons the manufacturers would spend this money is that if a vehicle can run on E85 it helps the manufacturer significantly with meeting their CAFE requirements (even if no one actually runs the car on E85). It's one of the lowest-cost ways for a manufacturer to basically sell more large gas-guzzling vehicles while still staying in compliance with the law.

That being said, one of the main reasons GM designed the Volt to run on premium non-E85 fuel was that they knew that the Volt would often have fuel sitting in the tank for very long periods of time (months) because it would be possible to use the vehicle in such a way that it's running in electric-only mode. The prevailing thought was that premium fuel will have more additives and will last longer before going stale, and E85 (ethanol) is hygroscopic - meaning that it will absorb water very readily from the air. This is of course a problem, especially if the fuel is sitting around for a long period of time.

E85 is appealing because of its high octane and you might be considering mixing regular fuel with E85 to get the same octane as premium fuel - but it's honestly not worth the hassle, especially considering how little gasoline the Volt really uses.
 

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HPTuners can write to the ICE computer (for simplicity, there are several computers on our cars!) but not to the EV computer. You could adjust the 'tune' to run with E85 but you can NOT adjust it to be Flex-Fuel (to run on E-anything and automatically compensate), at least that I've seen anywhere.

I toyed with the idea and decided: It isnt worth it.
At most I spend 1 tank of gasoline a month, just under 9 gallons * $2.99 here in FL for premium is around $25.00.
On my 2015 Chevy SS I was using about 100 gallons per month for the same commute.

As such, the Volt is (excluding insurance) a free car for me and the impact on the environment vs my prior daily driver (now garage queen) is 9% as much. Less is always better, but a reduction of emissions totaling 91% is not insignificant.
 

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My wife runs her 2014 Volt on Costco Regular 87 octane gas with 10% Ethanol blend, least expensive gas in town. She notices no real difference over premium gas. Last round trip to Portland Oregon, 180 miles or so, we averaged just on gas 42.5 mpg, thats leaving and returning climbing 3 mountain passes, from sea level where we live to well over 1600 feet on Highway 26. I never heard any pinging from the engine when climbing those passes on the gas engine as well.
 

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The "green" and "renewable" aspects of E85 are debatable.
Some people say similar things about coal and EV's.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel#Fuel_economy

Believe use of pure ethanol fuel actually reduces miles per US gallon closer to 34% cited above.
If by "pure" ethanol fuel you mean E100%, who cares? We're not in Brazil. E100 has cold-start problems under 59°F. It's rare to find anyone in the US using E100 and find a pump that dispenses it.

FWIW, when testing E30 and E50, I've personally saw about a 3 mpg drop using E50 on a stock Volt. As a worst case example, double that as an estimate of what 85% would be like and that's a 15% drop, not anywhere near the 30% you guys are quoting from Wikipedia. Most users in the ethanol forums report 15-20% spreads. The 30% spread widely quoted is based on the BTU of the fuel, not actual use.

I believe the actual cost for a manufacturer to produce a car to be E85-compatible works out to about $100 - $200 per vehicle based on several sources online.
Correct. Certifying the emissions is the expensive part and often runs in $5-10k or more.

E85 is appealing because of its high octane and you might be considering mixing regular fuel with E85 to get the same octane as premium fuel - but it's honestly not worth the hassle, especially considering how little gasoline the Volt really uses.
Unless you have a blender pump available, then E30 or E50 is just as easy as the premium nozzle and generally a lot cheaper.

HPTuners can write to the ICE computer (for simplicity, there are several computers on our cars!) but not to the EV computer.
Partially true, but not 100%. Much of what can be flashed had to be discovered by trial and error. There are a few items that affect EV mode that can be modded, like throttle position (the recalibration that gets us "Sport" mode and other features).

You could adjust the 'tune' to run with E85 but you can NOT adjust it to be Flex-Fuel (to run on E-anything and automatically compensate), at least that I've seen anywhere.
Not true. Have you ever seen an albino deer? Just because you haven't seen something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.:D

Setting stoich to be E50 gets you pretty close. The Volt isn't going to be able to compensate for E0 and E85 at all altitudes and doesn't seem to do a proper "learn" procedure when the tank is filled, but it still can do a pretty good job with just long and short trims.

I toyed with the idea and decided: It isn't worth it.
I partially agree. Having to buy $600 worth of software and the time required to tune is questionable for any vehicle. That doesn't stop a helluva a lot of Chevy and Corvette drivers from tuning their own vehicles. It just depends on how much you want to spend on "fun".

The people who consider running ethanol blends of E30 or more are the ones who actually use the ICE to travel more than 40 mile trips, and typically are not the ones who have to worry about stale fuel.
 
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