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Hey everyone,

Firstly, it's great to see such a lively and enthusiastic forum of Volt owners.
Secondly, let me introduce myself, or ourselves, we're a team of MIT, Sloan Business school and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) students. We're looking broadly looking at improving the car charging experience as it still appears to us that not enough design thought has been put in to the area.

So really I just wanted to start up a dialogue with you guys. As some of the first owners of the Volt you're most likely struck by its teething problems. So I'm going to start by asking what sort of charging station you have at home? Do you take the 'portable' charger around in the car with you? Have you ever used this outside your own home? And have you ever used a publicly available charging station and what was your experience?

So yeah, anything you can tell us will be helpful, and also as we're in frequent communication with GM about this, don't feel your voice wil get ignored. Some of the good ideas out of this have a good chance of being implemented!

Cheers
Jordan
 

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As was pointed out in another thread, the biggest help to EV adoption/charging is to get employers, park and rides, and other parking lots where people park for work to offer charging at reasonable rates. Like being home at night, the car is sitting there for several hours every day, so you don't need a huge amount of power, and it will double the effective range of the cars.

Personally, I bought a level 2 (220V) charger which stays in the garage, and keep the original 110V cord in the aft hatch area. When I'm going on a trip, I'll throw an extension cord on a reel in back, so I have options if a chance to charge comes up.

There aren't any public chargers in my area I could find - I've never used one. Supposedly the new service area on I-95 by Newark has some, but I spent 20 minutes wandering around it a month or two ago and couldn't find them.
 

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1. SPX
2. Yes, the OEM Charge adapter is always in the car.
3. I've used it at motels.
4. I have used the public charging stations at a local supermarket. Experience is fine. I pick up 6 - 8 miles while shopping. Occasionally I find a non-EV in the charging station parking spot.

The 110V OEM charge adapter is a bit awkward to use. The Velcro gets in the way when winding/unwinding the cord.
 

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I had a 240 volt Voltec charger installed in my garage. My goal was to NEVER have the charger cord laying on the ground where anyone would trip over it, and also not to have it where it was in the way when walking around the car.

Solution: Simple. The Voltec unit is suspended from the ceiling on a steel beam so that it sits right over the left front fender of the car when parked there.

It takes a total of maybe 5 seconds to grab the plug and stick it in the charge port, and when done charging, another 5 seconds to extract it and hang it back up on the Voltec unit. And both operations only require one hand, so I don't have to drop stuff I am carrying to do so.

The 120 volt charger stays in the trunk most of the time, but I have occasionally used it at work, and that is a much more envolved process. If I had to use it that way every day I would definitely consider that a real nuisance and a time waster.

I have never even found or tried to find any public charging stations, not worth the hassle or bother to me.

I am considering buying another 240 volt charger and installing it at work. (I own the business, so no problem with permission, LOL) I am just not sure if I would use it enough to justify the $500 purchase price. I do occasionally do extra charging at home between errands though.
 

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We have an SPX 220 v charger in our garage. We carry our 110 charger in the car but have only used it a few times (a motel that had a 110 outside outlet that I could use overnight.) Most of our trips are day trips where our Volt is only parked at one spot for no more than 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Even if level 2 chargers were available at stores, probably would not help us? However, for our overnight trips, access to even 110 outlets for overnight charging would be a BIG plus!! As our Volt approaches 9 months of operation, we are averaging 114 mpg with just under 10,000 miles driven, about two-thirds on electric.
 

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2 SPX chargers in the garage
Free blink chargers at work
Used the 110 portable once at the MGM in Las Vegas, always in the car
 

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I charge at my home with Clipper Creek, and at work with a Blink. We used the 110 at home the first three months, and now store it in the car.

The biggest contribution you could make would be a charging method for people residing in apartments. Perhaps wireless power functioning like a can-type directional transmitter.
 

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We have a Leaf and a Volt. We use a Blink for the Leaf and the 120V charger for the Volt. Never used a charger outside the home. Tried a couple of times and the chargers were offline. Carry the 120V EVSE in the Leaf but not the Volt.

The biggest issue for home charging is the cost, and the Rx for this problem would be a $200 EVSE that could plug into a 240V outlet (avoids permitting and inspections).
 

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I have had the Volt for 6 months. I only use the regular charger that came with the car 110V, I keep it in my garage and easily reached so when I come home it takes 2 seconds to plug in the car so no big issue for me.

I have also used some public chargers in some parking garages in Chicago, they work well and as they are 220V its a perfect amount of time to fill the batteries when you spend 4-5 hours downtown. So electric both ways.

Suggest things to make better.

More info from the standard charger on how much power is used and estimated finish time so you dont have to look at the app or look inside the car.

Maybe have some standard way to setup cost to charge when charging from a regular socket when stoping at places that you stay over night like hotels. For Volt they dont need to expensive 220V they could just have some 110V outlets with some kind of watt meter and tie that automatically to the hotel bill.


Overall plugging in is so much easier than stopping at a gas station and takes way less time.
 

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I use the 120 Volt charger in a condo parking spot using a shared plug at the low 8 amp setting.

I did have to order a second charge cable to keep in the car for work and trip charging ( took 3 months to find one)

I have used the level 2 charge-point station at the local 1/2 priced bookstore - twice.

there are 2 others within 5 miles - a 7/11 store and a small health food store. ( not much point in using them )

Dallas is letting anyone use the new city charger free for a year but I do not plan to every use a pay charger.
 

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1 spx voltec inside garage.
2 do not carry 110 charger with. it is left at second house where long charge times are not important.
3 no never used 110 charger on the road.
4 never used public charging.
 

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We're looking broadly looking at improving the car charging experience as it still appears to us that not enough design thought has been put in to the area.
Actually, there is not much thought needed. The Volt is designed to avoid the need for charging beyond the owner's garage. In general public charging is a bad idea and not needed. Yes, you will find some Volt owners that attempt to drive only on battery power, but the the design of the vehicle is to avoid the inconvenience of charging away from the home station.

So really I just wanted to start up a dialogue with you guys. As some of the first owners of the Volt you're most likely struck by its teething problems.
Sorry, but I have experienced NO teething problems. The car has performed exactly as advertised or exceeded the specifications and without a single anomaly. It has matched or exceeded all of my expectations.

So I'm going to start by asking what sort of charging station you have at home? Do you take the 'portable' charger around in the car with you? Have you ever used this outside your own home? And have you ever used a publicly available charging station and what was your experience?
I use the Level 1 charger that came with the car - no issues to date. I usually plug in after 7:00 pm when my off-peak electric rate goes into effect and the car is ready for the next day by at least 6:00 am. The EVSE is indeed portable, but I have only taken it with me on 2 occasions in the past 13 months. Both times it was to demonstrate how it works. I've never found a need to use publicly available charging because even level 2 chargers take too long to be useful. Even when I drove an EV1 from 1996 to 2001 I typically used public charging for demonstration purposes and rarely really needed the charging services. My experience with the EV1 was very enjoyable, but it is also why I jumped for the Volt because of the brilliant EREV design. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't enjoy a larger battery capacity in the Volt, but if I had a larger battery I still wouldn't find public charging to be valuable from a Volt owners point of view.

So yeah, anything you can tell us will be helpful, and also as we're in frequent communication with GM about this, don't feel your voice wil get ignored. Some of the good ideas out of this have a good chance of being implemented!
GM should be working furiously to put the Voltec design package into a slightly larger vehicle, even a small CUV (aka "sport wagon").

No effort should be spent on public charging, simply because it is not needed for the brilliant EREV concept. Leave that to the BEV manufacturers/owners.

VIN # B0985
 

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Hey everyone, And have you ever used a publicly available charging station and what was your experience?

.... as we're in frequent communication with GM about this, don't feel your voice wil get ignored. Some of the good ideas out of this have a good chance of being implemented!

Jordan

I don't understand why the charge port is on the driver's side of the car. If and when, they ever place chargers in NYC or any other place where they have parallel parking, there's a real danger of being hit by traffic. The Leaf got that one right.
 

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Actually, there is not much thought needed. The Volt is designed to avoid the need for charging beyond the owner's garage. In general public charging is a bad idea and not needed. Yes, you will find some Volt owners that attempt to drive only on battery power, but the the design of the vehicle is to avoid the inconvenience of charging away from the home station.
On the other hand:

Public stations are, well public, and thus a good place for people to see electric cars and ask questions.

I find it very easy to use public charging stations, and they can make for a bit further range on electric. My wife and I sometimes drive about 22 miles to a Water District lake that has a huge solar array, and several charging stations. A leisurely few laps around the lake gives us enough charge to make it home without worrying about using the generator.

The other day we went to a new Target to shop, just because they had installed a half dozen new charging stations. I arrived with 20 miles remaining, spent 45 minutes shopping, left with 27 miles. Arrived home after a detour with only 3 miles remaining. Without the opportunity charge at the Target, that trip would have cost me _some_ gas. And despite having a gas generator on board we do not want to have to use it, except in the direst of situations.

We find that the chargers that are located where we want to spend time get used a lot more than ones located in a less comfortable location, like say the one in front of City Hall. That one is on the sidewalk and requires parallel parking on a busy street. That is not someplace that unreeling the level 1 cord and having to enter traffic to plug it in felt comfortable! (Nor would charging at level 1 for half an hour made any difference to me.) Having the charging input on the front or back would be better, or having the option to order either side even would be better than the traffic side.

For long term parking at airports 120V is sufficient for all but the shortest day trips. The problem with the current setup is that the cord is not attached to the car, and could be stolen. It should be on a reel with the 120V cable only exposed and all the EVSE stuff inside under the hood.

I have an AreoVironment 240V EVSE at home, always carry the 120V in the car, only tried to use it twice. It did fine charging at home for a few months, but sometimes it was difficult to get a fast enough charge on weekends.
 

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Well... It took me three months to have a ChargePoint charger installed in my condo unit garage. This was due to the fact that I needed a TOU meter installed to take advantage of the power utility discounts for EV charging. The local building codes, the local power utility and the contractor had many issues that were difficult to resolve. The local building codes in Los Angeles are very mirky when it comes to adding a second power meter in a multifamily building. Eventually I did get my charger installed and I am VERY happy with my ChargePoint CT500 and it's advanced features. (Especially the web interface)

As for public charging... I have not had any experience yet. This is due to the fact that I used the ChargePoint iPhone app to try to locate a charger in Santa Monica, CA. The map showed me exactly which parking garage was supposed to have a charger. But the Parking garage was unattended and I was never able to locate the charger. I drove around and around searching for it. There were no signs. No information in the chargepoint app to give me a clue about what floor or where to find the charger inside the building. I finally gave up and parked in a regular spot. (I ended up burning gasoline to get home that day.)

As for the 120 volt Voltec charger that comes with the car... It is cheaply constructed. The J1772 cord part is OK. The 15 amp NEMA Power cord is too short. The NEMA power cord is made using 16 gage chinese wire that gets very warm in operation. (Almost warm enough to melt the insulation on a hot day. You can smell the vinyl melting.) Also the 15 amp NEMA connector molded onto the power cord is very cheaply made and it also gets dangerously hot. The Voltec charger is manufactured by Lear. It is dangerous in my opinion. Chevy or Lear should use a better quality power cord with 14 gage wire and a cadmium plated connector to prevent corrosion and ensure a low resistance power connection. This charger is OK for occasional use but I would not trust it for daily charging. I think it's a fire hazard.

Lastly... I just want to say I have been driving for 34 years and I have owned at least 15 cars in my life. My Volt is the coolest car I have ever owned. I love it. I think you will find that most Volt owners are fiercely loyal and love their cars.
 

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what sort of charging station you have at home? Do you take the 'portable' charger around in the car with you? Have you ever used this outside your own home? And have you ever used a publicly available charging station and what was your experience?
240v at home. I charge at home 99.9% of the time. Yes, the 110v stays in the cargo area for rare use recharging at a relatives home. Tried a public charger once. It did not work and caused the Check Engine Light to come on requiring a dealer visit to reset. A charging option at work would be nice, but not if the rates are much above my residential rate ($1.30 for a full charge over 4 hours).
 

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Public stations are, well public, and thus a good place for people to see electric cars and ask questions.
I don't disagree with that, but there are two sides to "demonstration charging". The other side is people may feel the Volt is tied to the charger, which is absolutely incorrect. I would say that the Leaf owners can present that image and the Volt should display the freedom that the EREV concept provides.

I find it very easy to use public charging stations, and they can make for a bit further range on electric. My wife and I sometimes drive about 22 miles to a Water District lake that has a huge solar array, and several charging stations. A leisurely few laps around the lake gives us enough charge to make it home without worrying about using the generator.

The other day we went to a new Target to shop, just because they had installed a half dozen new charging stations. I arrived with 20 miles remaining, spent 45 minutes shopping, left with 27 miles. Arrived home after a detour with only 3 miles remaining. Without the opportunity charge at the Target, that trip would have cost me _some_ gas. And despite having a gas generator on board we do not want to have to use it, except in the direst of situations.
It sort of sounds like you would be happier with a car like the Leaf and there wouldn't be any chance you would use any gas - ever. I hate to say it but if your goal is to avoid using gas then the Volt is a poor choice. But my experience with the EV1 showed me that you need to stay within the range of the battery capacity, or deal with the need for public charging infrastructure. That would include the inconvenience of waiting for the charger to feed enough energy to get you down the road. That's why the EREV concept is so brilliant - don't worry, be happy.

VIN # B0985
 

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Hi Jordan,
>> as it still appears to us that not enough design thought has been put in to the area.

Can you describe this leading-issue? Leading in that it appears that you have a solution looking for a problem, really. Charging challenges mainly come down to time to charge rather than the charger engineering itself. EV owners will always have a "time gap" from when they plug in until when the charge is full. Much like a laptop or phone charge cycle, it is "plug in and come back to it later".

Some TV pundits say that charging will lead to divorce when one partner doesn't remember to plug in the night before and leads to no range for the driver of the EV (not the Volt) and then hilarity ensues when father cannot get to work or the airport or has to call a taxi.

Some engineers and others see inductive charging as being a solution to the whole "I have to move my arm" problem of using a EVSE to charge the car nightly. Sure, that is extra convenient and allows you to pull up and be charging quickly. However, one problem here is possibly environmental as road dirt, snow/ice and other contaminants causing added charging losses or a disconnect of the unit.

I think for the Volt, the one change for charging is to place the socket on the front of the car similar to the Nissan Leaf. This allows placement of the charger unit in a more convienent place and the use of a shorter cable in order to slightly reduce charging losses and be more efficient. If the charger is only 4' away from the socket on the car, the cable only has to be 4-5' long rather than 20' or so. Since the overall charging losses are 30% for a full charge of the Volt, it would be nice to cut into that loss with physical changes.

Another reason to have the charger socket in the center of the grille is that the charger itself appears to be located on the right-front bumper area (correct if wrong) which means wiring travels from left quarter-panel to right front bumper. Shorter wiring is better not only for efficiency but manufacturing costs.
 

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I use the portable 110V charger that came with the Volt in my garage. The charger stays home unless I’m going somewhere I think I might get use from it. I’ve used it at my cousin’s house. My NJ round trip commute always depletes the battery to about half full charge. (20 miles/days)

As for public charging stations, I have a ChargePoint “Charge Pass” that will only work on free ChargePoint charging stations. I chose not to associate a credit card with the “Charge Pass”. I have used the ChargePoint at Rutgers University – Busch Campus and in Paramus Bergen Community College. I would not pay more than .40 an hour to charge my Volt at a 240V ChargePoint charging station. I wish there were solar carport ChargePoint charging stations at malls, shopping centers, and Jersey shore parking lots.
 
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