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Discussion Starter #1
I have occasion to make a 100 mile (one way) trip to visit my family. Most of that is interstate and highway miles. There are a few miles where I'm in town but overall the drive is highway driving. For the summer I've been taking my second vehicle but with the winter approaching that vehicle tends to stay in the garage for these visits.

When I bought the Volt back in June I drove it to see them because they wanted to see the new car. When I made that trip I put it in hold mode and drove it almost all the way there on gas. When I arrived I had in the low 50s of EV range left. On the return trip I decided to use battery until it was almost used up (i.e. mountain mode). I was able to complete over half of the return trip on battery.

For my upcoming trips I'm thinking I may as well just use the battery and let it switch to gas once the battery is depleted. I can charge the vehicle at my families place overnight but it will be L1 and, with colder weather, might not really replace much of the batteries capacity. Thus I anticipate the trip being mostly on gas.

Any recommendations? The trip goes something like this:

From my place in Denver to Colorado Springs is high speed interstate...75 MPH is the speed limit along the majority of that leg. Once in the Springs I jump on highway 24 which is approximately 3-4 miles of stop lights (but generally flows smoothly) and then I begin the climb into the mountains (where the speed limit averages about 50 MPH). I'll then enter a small town (Woodland Park) where the speed limit dips to 30 and there are a few traffic lights. Generally getting through the down does not involve a lot of stop and go. Once I clear Woodland Park I'm back to 60 MPH speeds for most of the remainder of the trip.
 

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The only thing I'd want to try and do if I were making that trip is to save some electric power for going uphill, as it's going to be more efficient than having the engine chugging the whole way up, and also making sure I had plenty of room to store more battery charge going down the mountains, as you can save your brakes by using regen the whole way down (and get back a lot of that electricity you used climbing). For the rest, there probably isn't a whole lot of difference either way...whichever you prefer.
 

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I think the most important part is not to worry too much. It's a very smart car, and no matter how you decide to drive it you won't have big problems. Some ways may be more efficient than others, and some may have less NVH in the cabin - on the freeway the engines are barely detectable, whereas they can be somewhat intrusive in city driving.
 

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You should be able to get a full or nearly full charge on L1 overnight. However, be sure your host will not worry about you running up their electric bill. People tend to assume the worst when they don't know the real impact of something like that. Also be sure their wiring is sound and you will not blow a fuse on an already loaded circuit. If there is any doubt about any of that, I would just not charge there. Not worth it.

If charging is OK, then I would recommend using normal mode both directions so you maximize your electric miles. No reason to arrive home with anything in the battery due to using hold or mountain mode.

IIRC that drive is flat. When in the mountains, prefer mountain mode instead of normal mode.
 

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I have a 140 mile round trip from the Chatfield State Park area to Fountain and back that I've been doing on a regular basis. On the way down I put my Volt into Mountain mode until I exit I-25 at Fountain. This gives me a few miles of electric drive on the surface streets at the other end. On the way back I leave it in normal mode the entire way. If you're on the west side of Denver, take Sante Fe down to Sedalia and head west on CO 67 (stop light) to 105. Take 105 down through Palmer Lake and Monument and get on and off I-25 at the Monument exit. I do this and routinely average 50 to 55 MPG on gas, with one trip averaging 59.6 MPG ICE. On the way down my Volt switches to ICE (Mountain Mode) between the Baptist Road and North Gate exits on I-25. It's a much easier drive as well and bypasses the daily backups between Tomah Road and Greenland.
 

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How does your Volt like the climb to Woodland Park? Do you use Mountain Mode or just pure ICE? For the flatlanders here, this is a climb from 6,000 to 7,400 ft in 11-12 miles followed by another 1,000 ft climb over 6 miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks for all of the feedback. To all those who essentially said not to worry about it that was my thought but I wanted to ask to see what other strategies may be available. It felt foolish to arrive at my relatives place with almost a full battery.


@Barry: Charging is not a problem. I've spoken to my family and they're fine with it. Both have no issues if I wanted to install 240 volt for L2 charging. At one location I've already confirmed the circuit can handle the 12 AMP charge rate.

Regarding overnight charging. In ideal conditions I would get a full charge. The concern is the cold temperatures where they live. It's not uncommon for a typical night to be in the 20s or lower. Thus, I expect, some of the power will be used for battery conditioning and not charging.


@obermd: I'm on the east side (Cherry Creek Reservoir) o it's either down 83 or I-25. I've made a habit of I-25 as interstate driving is better on the fuel economy when I had only gas vehicles. May have to rethink 83 now that I have the Volt. But much of that is also higher speed driving so not sure there's much of an advantage.

As for the climb to WP and beyond (up to 8000 feet) it performs great! I was very impressed with it, pulled strong and gave similar performance as my Outback XT. If you're satisfied with the performance headed up Monument hill then you'll be happy with the performance going up to WP. I used Mountain Mode for a few select areas but primarily used Hold mode the entire drive.
 

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Since you regularly make this trip why not experiment. Travel the same route and see if you can improve on your range and efficiency. For the first experiment use the Volt as it was designed; run in Normal mode until the battery is depleted, then use gas for the remainder of the trip. If you are worried about not having any battery reserve for driving up the mountain use Mountain Mode so your battery will not be fully depleted. Keep a log of your EV miles and your gas miles and gas usage. Do the same for the return trip and record the results. For the next time you make this trip start out in Hold Mode and then switch to Normal mode when you are within the estimated battery range of your destination. Keep a log for this outbound trip and for the return trip. Compare with the earlier trip. Bring your EVSE so you can charge using Level 1, 120V/8 amps when you reach your destination. Even if it takes more than one night your Volt's battery will be fully charged when you start your return trip.
 

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Speed limits on 83 range from 55 to 65 and there's a lot more traffic than on 105 as well. I'd probably go down I-25 as well given that choice. If you're concerned about the full battery, put your Volt in Mountain Mode and use the battery until it runs down. The Volt will recharge back to the Mountain Mode setting on the way down from Monument Hill. I routinely see 70+ MPG ICE between Monument and Academy Blvd at 75 MPH so the ICE simply isn't working that hard on this stretch southbound. Switch back to Normal when you reach Divide. (I'm assuming that's the direction you're going based on the reported speed limit.)

On the way back I'd put my Volt in Low leaving Divide until I got back to I-25. Take advantage of that 3,000 ft gravity regen. :)
 

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For any trip longer than I can do in EV mode alone, I use Hold Mode on the freeway because the new Volt is very efficient using gas at high speeds - I regularly see 44, 45 or even 46 mpg on gas at freeway speeds. Like any EV, high speeds really kill your EV range, so I reserve that for everything other than freeways - A 50 mph secondary road is much more EV friendly than any freeway

The reason it's so fuel efficient at freeway speeds is the way it blends the ICE and the electric when going up or down hills - You don't get 45 mpg from a 4,000 pound car just because it has an efficient gas engine. The car works really well in Hold Mode at high speeds and is also super efficient in EV mode at low speeds. Best of both worlds, so why not take advantage of both??

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.

@jcanoe: I may try your suggestion but, at this time of the year, several weeks go by before I make another trip. The challenge will be to remember to try different things and track it.

@Don M: This is similar to what I had read earlier and what caused me to use Hold Mode almost the entire first part of the trip. It wasn't until I arrived at their house that I realized I had "wasted" using the electrical power of the car. IMO arriving at a destination (where I can fully recharge before heading out again) with an almost full battery seemed wasteful.

As I make additional trips and, to jcanoe's suggestion, I'll learn what works best. This will also help me determine if a pure EV will be a possibility.
 

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If I'm going to exceed the electric range on a trip and won't have the opportunity to charge, I usually put the Volt in hold mode on the freeway to save battery power for stop and go driving. Aside from the gas engine being more efficient at highway speeds, and getting much more electric range in stop and go driving, I don't think the Volt is overly pleasant to drive in range extended mode in the city. Maybe it's just because I'm used to it being silent, but the engine seems pretty loud. It's much less so on the highway. On my return home, I switch back to normal mode when I've got a couple miles on the guess-o-meter over the remaining length of my trip to use up most of the rest of the battery charge.

If I can charge the Volt, I still use Hold mode on the highway and switch back to Normal so that the battery will be about empty when I reach the place I can charge.
 

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@Don M: This is similar to what I had read earlier and what caused me to use Hold Mode almost the entire first part of the trip. It wasn't until I arrived at their house that I realized I had "wasted" using the electrical power of the car. IMO arriving at a destination (where I can fully recharge before heading out again) with an almost full battery seemed wasteful.
Yup, 50 miles of charge left at a plug-stop is a gallon of gas burned unnecessarily. :) The less you think about it, the more close to "right" you'll get by accident. Gen 2 is even powerful enough on gas alone that there's few humps in the country that will actually give you trouble to climb without remembering Mountain Mode 15 minutes before. Just ignoring it can even mean running the engine only once on an out-and-back instead of twice, which is a total win. If you've got a LOT of city driving after leaving the freeway, maybe saving some power for the "end of ramp to your house" distance, but for me, once the ICE turns off at the bottom of my exit ramp, the CS battery buffer is full and the engine's not going to turn on again for the mile of slow city driving into my garage. So there's no point in bothering with even that that consideration. And Hold Modes idea of "how much is left" is actually a voltage point, not a "miles on the guess-o-meter", so invoking Hold Mode when the meter says "10 miles" doesn't mean it will say "10 miles" when you turn it off. It might be 12 or 8. And after that 10 miles of driving, you may STILL have some left, or you may have the ICE kick on 500 yards from your house, regardless of what it said when you switched back to Normal Mode. Letting it run out naturally is the only way to assure you're getting close to the best possible under the circumstance, and even when it COULD HAVE BEEN better, the fuzziness in the metering and the varying conditions of driving mean trying to out-think it is likely wrong more often than right.
 

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On left here is the dash readout for 2 trips down the Oregon coast via Highway 101. Our 2016 Volt was loaded with me, my wife, all our fishing gear, cooler etc., along with her camera gear as well. Speed ranged from 25 MPH to 60 MPH max on Highway 101 from home and return. We live at sea level and both photos were taken at our driveway. Our 2010 Prius would have probably obtained 55 mpg for the same trips. We had to charge after each trip @ 8 amp minimum as we are remodeling in the area of our charger and the battery was not fully charged from each charge. That why the energy screen did not zero out like if would with a full charge.

Note photo on right was an additional fishing trip down to the Tillamook Oregon area we made which added that trip to the screen and also increased the mpg's on gas. Our 2016 Volt Premier has over 47,000 miles total and 16,300 miles on gas. Tires are original Michelin Energy Saver AS with 42-44 PSI in all 4. Gas is Costco regular 87 octane. For a passenger car which loaded like ours is well over 4,000 lbs it seems almost incredible.

20180916_190426.jpg 20180917_201149.jpg
 

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I'm very familiar with those roads, as I live in Castle Rock and used to visit Woodland Park regularly. My advice is to drive in normal mode until you hit Lincoln and then switch to mountain mode until you pass Castle Pines. Go back to normal mode until you get through Castle Rock and then switch back to mountain mode for the climb up the Palmer Divide. When you crest the hill at Monument, drop it back into normal and if you have any battery left when you start the climb on 24, put it in mountain mode again and save any battery you have left for the slow speed driving at your destination.

They've started construction on the stretch between Castle Rock and Monument (they're adding a toll lane to separate the wealthy from the riff-raff.) I haven't been down there since they started so I don't know how that's affected the traffic. If you get stuck in stop-n-go, I recommend using normal mode, even if you're climbing those big hills.

This is all just my opinion and it is how I drive those roads.

Whoops, almost forgot to mention that I try to put it on cruise at 65 and stay in the slow lane, unless the traffic is running heavy and fast. Then I abandon my efficiency standards in deference to safety and go with the flow.
 

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I didn't realize they started the construction south of Castle Rock. I've been using 105 so much simply because it's a much more pleasant drive.
 

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Electric mode is somewhat smoother, has quicker response and less noisy. Therefore my recommendation is:

As generic guidance, use electric when ever you are driving at slower speeds, places where there is stop&go traffic or situations where you need to change the speed. Use gas when you are moving at constant speeds for extended duration, run out of electricity or require more heat than the electric heated can provide (like in Arctic). But in any case, concentrate to enjoy the driving as both modes are equally functional and "saving the juice" just makes your life miserable.

In other words: Just drive.
 
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