GM Volt Forum banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I purchased a 2011 with 106,000 km for $13,000 CAD a couple months ago. I have LOVED everything about this car, with one significant exception. When I first got the car it was very cold out, so I was unsurprised by my low range. But for the last week we have had lovely 8-12 degree (Celsius) weather, and I am getting only about 35 km (21 miles) per full charge.

This has been with no HVAC on whatsoever, and setting cruise at 100km on the highway. I am wondering if it just takes some time for the battery to bounce back after cold weather, if there is something I should be doing, or if there could be a problem with the battery.

In every other way it is the best car I have ever owned. But I am very disappointed with the range.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
19,968 Posts
Summary
  • New Volts have a low battery range estimate that will increase over time based on the points below.
  • Volts in cold weather will see a drop in the battery range based on the points below. This will reverse when the weather warms again.
  • Volts with battery service will see the battery range reset to the lower factory default. Just like a new Volt owner, you will see this change as you drive the car normally over the next several days.
  • Volts with multiple drivers may see a drop in the battery range based on the points below. As a passenger, you can quickly determine why your partner is getting fewer battery miles than you (or vice versa!).
New Volt owners; or those who have had some battery service done; or those driving for the first time in fall/winter months can become anxious when seeing their Volt's battery range display a mileage estimate in the 30's, rather than the 40's or even 50's they were expecting or were previously experiencing.

Some fear the lower battery range estimate indicates a battery problem of some sort. Do not panic. It is much more likely the decreased battery range (actual or estimated) is due to a change in driving style, or in environmental conditions, or the car's conditions, or all the above.

Four Main Points About Volt Battery Range

1. The battery range display is an estimate based on the past, it's not an absolute.

The Volt attempts to predict how many miles you will be able to drive on the full battery based on your past few days of driving. A brand new Volt typically has no real past driving results to base an estimate on, so it displays a range estimate of 36-38 miles. This can vary a bit based on pre-delivery driving by the dealer.

The actual miles you get from the battery can be higher or lower than the displayed estimate based on factors discussed below. In general, all things being equal, if you drive consistently every day, the Volt's battery miles estimate will come very close to the actual miles you will get. Again, this assumes little or no change in your driving style or environmental conditions.

2. Your driving style affects the battery range (actual and estimated).

The way you drive greatly affects how many miles you will get from the battery. If you change the way you drive for a few days or so, it will be reflected in the Volt's estimated battery miles as well.

Speed. Slower speeds will deliver more battery miles. The faster you drive the more energy it takes to push through air resistance. The battery will deliver more driving miles at a steady 30 MPH than it will at a steady 70 MPH. Generally, you'll drive further at speeds under 50 MPH than you will at speeds over 50 MPH.

Cruise Control. The Volt has a great cruise control. Using cruise control will often be more efficient (deliver more battery miles), than not using cruise control because many people have a hard time keeping a very consistent speed. For the Volt's cruise control, this is easy.

Anticipating Change: Starts and Stops. Starts and stops that keep the green ball centered in the dash will enable more miles to be driven on the battery than rapid starts and stops which will waste more energy. Anticipate stops and slow down gradually rather than "speeding to a stop". Try to maintain inertia, as a rolling start will require less energy than accelerating from a dead stop.

Drive vs. Low Regen. Drive creates the same amount of regen (electricity regeneration) that Low does when slowing down, but Drive takes a longer distance to do so. With Drive, you can coast, with Low you can slow the Volt down quicker without using the brakes and thus recover more battery range in a shorter distance than Drive. Some people drive in Low all the time. Some downshift into Low only when approaching slowed traffic. Some feel unsafe using Low without tapping their brakes. Whatever your choice, Low pumps more electricity back into the battery than Drive given a short stopping distance.

Climate Control. Not using the heater, the A/C, the defroster will be more efficient (deliver more battery miles), than using them. Eco uses more electricity than not using climate control. Comfort uses up more battery miles than Eco. Of course, if you need them, use them. Just be aware that your battery miles (and estimated range) will be reduced. At speeds less than 50 MPH, popping open the window a half inch will often clear windshield fog as well as the defroster.

Seat Heaters. If you need heat, the seat heaters use much less energy than using the the climate control heat. Try using the seat heaters instead of the climate control if possible.

3. Environmental conditions that affect battery range (actual and estimated).

The conditions you drive under can dramatically affect how many miles you will get from the battery. If these conditions change for a few days or so, it will be reflected in the Volt's estimated battery miles.

Rain/Snow. Pushing the car through water or snow on the road takes more energy (battery miles) than driving on a dry road. Higher tire rolling resistance and lower tire traction take their toll. Also, water is a more effective coolant than air, so the tires and lubricants operate at cooler (less efficient) temperatures. Plus, the wipers and defrosters are typically needed, drawing even more electricity. Wet or snowy conditions can therefore decrease miles (by up to 14% according to some Prius owners). Nothing you can do about rain or snow, just be aware you will get fewer battery miles on those days.

Road Surface. Concrete is the most efficient driving surface, asphalt second, chip and seal is worst. Road roughness can increase rolling resistance up to 20% due to energy dissipation in the tires and suspension (10% loss of mpg).

Wind. A strong headwind can reduce battery miles by increasing air resistance. Strong winds often accompany rain and snow storms.
Outside Temperature. Colder outside temperatures reduce driving range for a number of reasons including the fact that thicker lubricants have more resistance requiring more battery energy to overcome. Colder weather often results in increased use of the climate system, further reducing miles. Nothing you can do about outside temperature, just be aware you will get fewer battery miles on colder days than warmer days.

The chart below from an actual Volt owner show the affect that temperature alone has on battery range (next to it is a chart showing the amount of energy used to travel 100 miles vs. outside temps). The lower the seasonal temperature, the more energy it takes to travel, resulting in fewer miles on a full charge:
Click image for larger version

Name: Outside Temperature vs. Battery Range.jpg
Views: 150
Size: 49.1 KB
ID: 67769Click image for larger version

Name: Outside Temperature vs. kWh Used.jpg
Views: 117
Size: 48.8 KB
ID: 67777
http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?151273-3-Years-of-OnStar-Data-Comparing-Effect-of-Temperature-on-EV-Range

4. Volt conditions that affect battery range (actual and estimated).

The condition of your Volt can dramatically affect how many miles you will get from the battery. If these conditions change for a few days or so, it will be reflected in the Volt's estimated battery miles.

Tire Pressure. Maintain the correct tire pressure. Low tire pressure can reduce you battery miles by up to 10%. Correct tire pressure is more efficient, maximizes battery miles. Low tire pressure creates more rolling resistance and therefore consumes more battery miles. Check tires weekly, or at least once per month. Some even keep their tires inflated to a slightly higher 40 psi.

Winter Tires and Wheels. These tires, plus their often heavier wheels, can increase rolling resistance and therefore decrease battery miles.

Preconditioning. The 240v EVSE charge stations have the advantage of allowing you to pre-start the Volt and warm (or cool) the cabin at max comfort temperatures for 10 minutes using (mostly) the house electricity rather than the battery. If you do this 15 minutes or so before departure, your car will have 5 minutes to replenish if needed and you won't need to draw down the battery range as much during your drive. The 120v EVSE does not supply enough power to precondition the Volt this way, and more battery power is robbed to make up the difference. A refinement is to delay charging so it completes about 15 minutes or so before you plan to leave. The battery will be a bit warmer than if it had finished charging hours earlier.

Clean & Waxed Car. MythBusters showed that a dirty car can decrease fuel efficiency (battery miles) by up to 10%. A clean Volt has less air resistance than a dirty Volt. It looks better too. Wash your car weekly, or at least every few weeks. Package delivery services and airlines know this and keep their equipment clean. http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/my...-clean-car.htm

TIP: Keep Your Volt Plugged In
Yes, you should always keep your Volt plugged in if possible. It will not hurt the car. Instead, this allows your Volt to take care of battery management chores using grid electricity instead of using its battery. Keeping your Volt plugged in will enable you to use all your battery miles for driving.

Interesting reading: http://cumminsengines.com/assets/pdf...whitepaper.pdf

Related Battery Degradation Information

Although cold weather will not degrade the battery, what many may not realize is degree of engineering sophistication the Volt employs to coddle the LiOn battery and minimize degradation from other causes while providing maximum battery life:
The battery is never fully discharged. Only 10.5 kWh (usually 45-50 miles in summer, 25-35 miles in winter) of the battery's total 16 kWh can be used (16.5 kWh for MY 2013). The extra 5.5 kWh forms a buffer as well as a reserve to be used as the battery ages. LiOn batteries degrade faster if fully discharged on a regular basis, the Volt prevents this.
The battery temperature is maintained in a narrow range while plugged in or driving. This is done with a liquid coolant system. Extended exposure to high heat is bad for battery life. The Volt minimizes the effects of external hot or cold temperatures by using its active thermal management coolant system programmed to stay within 3.6°F (2°C) of the pack’s optimal temperature, which depending on usage conditions falls in a range between 50ºF and 85°F (10ºC to 30°C). While it is parked unplugged, the insulation around the battery helps maintain the desired temperature.
The battery can not be cooked with a "supercharge". The Volt does not allow rapid, half hour recharges of the depleted battery. These kind of charges can easily cook the battery if done frequently or improperly.
Related reading: http://www.myperfectautomobile.com/g...nt-system.html
Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt#Battery

Volt buyers pay a little more to have these advanced battery management features. To sell at a lower price, some EV's skimp on these features or skip them altogether.

GM has test Volts with well in excess of 200,000 miles still operating within spec which means the liquid-heated and cooled battery and related systems are engineered to at least go the distance in all climates. Though the battery is warranted for half that, I expect we will see many Volts still running on their original battery even after 12-16 years of use.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Let us know what tire is on the car, it makes a significant difference. Your Volt takes a 215/55/17 and in this size many variations are available, some much wider tread width and much heavier than the OEM Goodyears. In my own experience with my 2011 93,000 miles this is the single biggest factor in EV range and gasoline mpg. I'm running Michelin Primacy MXV4's in 94V they have a 7.3" tread width, compared to the OEM Goodyears with a 6.9" tread width. My range and mpg suffer about 6-8% vs. the Goodyears.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,556 Posts
And when it gets warmer, the range will go up. I'm lucky to get 20-24 miles in the winter. But it gets up to 40-45 miles of EV range in the summer. It will all average out in the end, unless you are in the part of Canada that never gets warm
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,661 Posts
Auto Defrost, and tires/pressure can have a huge impact on your AER, but so can driving style. Make sure you are running at LEAST 38PSI (262 kpa) set COLD in your tires as a baseline. Some run them higher, but start there.

Remember any EV's range is impacted by the THREE T's - Temperature, Terrain and Technique.

The first step is to monitor the vehicle as you are doing, then learn and master what impacts the real world range you are getting.

But as others have said as temps warm you AER should increase. I had no trouble getting 40 to 45 miles from my battery on my 2012 and 2013 Volt's here in southern Illinois.

Good luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,556 Posts
Plus driving like a grandpa is better for EV range than driving like Jeff Gordon, though I've been known to take on any and all pony cars and ricer boys at stop lights.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,156 Posts
You may also want to use your app to check that you're car is charging to 100%. My guess is that most of your lack of range can be explained by the reasons offered by other posters. However, it's also important to realize that all batteries degrade over time. Your Volt is going on six years, so, while we've not seen a lot of evidence of degradation, it would not be out of the realm of possibility that your car may have lost a few miles of range.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the quick feedback! I just checked my tires, and they were only at 32psi. I pumped them up, and was excited to see what I got today... AND... it was -3 and snowing. Boo-urns. But I will see how it works out when the weather gets back to normal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
It gets me to work, frankly... where I am able to recharge. So it's not the end of the world if the range stays low. But I'm still within the 8/160,000... so if there HAS been degradation, I'm wondering if its worth it to follow up with a GM dealership.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,201 Posts
You will not really see higher range until temps overnight are above 10c and the mornings start to heat up quickly. You should start to see improvements in May and you will start to see drop off of range in late October. You will see the worst range estimates in the 2c to 12c temps, especially if it is cold overnight.

Today I only got about 36km in s.w. Ontario and a few days ago only about 28km. On Sunday/Monday temps will swing up and you should see improvement in range for those two days. FYI, I get about 60 to 65km in the summer and drop down to low to mid 30's in the winter in my 2013 and the 2011 has a slightly lower Battery capacity so range for a 2011 will be a bit less normally. I believe your battery is probably fine and operating normally.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
123 Posts
My range dropped to 28km at -20˚C. It was a brutal long winter here. We usually get 8" of precipitation annually. I think we're above that already and it's only April. We 26" of snow on the ground for 10 weeks and our community is not equipped to deal with that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Thanks! I think you're right. Also, I goy my tires up to snuff, and the range improved significantly that day. It's amazing how much the weather makes a difference, too. Today was really balmy out, and I saw a 30% improvement. Looking forward to summer!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,261 Posts
Hey Joe, you didn't mention if you have LRR (low rolling resistance) tires. I would be surprised if you were still running stock with that mileage.

As someone who changed from the OEM LRR Goodyears to NON-LRR Bridgestone Driveguards, I can tell you that anywhere from a 10 to 20% EV range penalty is possible depending on the type of tire. If you really want to eek out some more range, change to a LRR tire when it's time (use the search here to get others' opinions--NOT all LRR tires are created equal).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
623 Posts
Joe, I'm in Canada as well and we are just coming up on 1 week of Volt ownership ourselves.

Like yourself I was a bit freaked out when my wife messaged on her first commute and said the engine started at only 39 Kilometers.

But, the weather was lousy, requiring a lot of defrost usage, wipers, full lights, and yes...cabin heat. It was also cold out so the batteries were not running at peak effeciency I'm sure.

However, as others have said, wait - it seems like you've already experienced improvement, as have we. Just today my wife went out and drove 51 city kilometers and came home with 11 remaining, but the difference is...weather and temperature. ;)

All in over the weekend we drove the volt 156 Kilometers (nearly 100 miles for the US members) and used 0.0L of fuel. Woohoo!

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,556 Posts
Thanks! I think you're right. Also, I goy my tires up to snuff, and the range improved significantly that day. It's amazing how much the weather makes a difference, too. Today was really balmy out, and I saw a 30% improvement. Looking forward to summer!
And on a heavy rain day, the range will plummet. Same thing happens to regular ICE vehicles, except they don't have all this telemetry in board to detect it on a moment by moment basis.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,556 Posts
Hey Joe, you didn't mention if you have LRR (low rolling resistance) tires. I would be surprised if you were still running stock with that mileage.

As someone who changed from the OEM LRR Goodyears to NON-LRR Bridgestone Driveguards, I can tell you that anywhere from a 10 to 20% EV range penalty is possible depending on the type of tire. If you really want to eek out some more range, change to a LRR tire when it's time (use the search here to get others' opinions--NOT all LRR tires are created equal).
I have Yokohama Avid Ascends wrapped around 18" custom wheels. That combo knocked 5-10 miles off my range, but in exchange I've got great cornering and traction. Part of my range loss also came from no longer driving like a grandpa and driving more like Jeff Gordon. Still getting 70 mpg.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top