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dwiggins 10-10-2011 05:00 PM

Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
Greetings

In this thread, I'll make posts from time to time about our Chevy Volt.

We haven't taken delivery of the car yet, so I'll start with the story thus far.

My wife and I were at an ALMS race at Road America (Elkhart Lake, WI) last August. She's been thinking about a new car to replace her Honda Element. Now that we have fewer large dogs that needs to be hauled around, there's no need for a big box on wheels with a rubber floor. She'd been looking at cars like the Mazda 3, Ford Focus, and the Chevy Cruze.

We were there at the Chevy exhibit at the track, looking at the Cruze. The wife looks across the exhibit and sees the Volt and is intrigued. She hadn't been that interested in it until she saw it in person. She talked to the Chevy rep for a while, sat in the car, and it moved to the top of her list of cars to check out.

After we returned home, we hit the Chevy dealership nearest the house on the next Saturday. They had a demo Volt, but it was locked up in a service bay for some reason, and they couldn't get to it for a test drive. The sales guy was very apologetic and told us to come back Monday and he'd have the car cleaned up and he'd let us take it home for a few days. We did so, and during the few days we had it, my wife used NO gasoline. Her round trip commute is 34 miles. When she got home at night, the car would show 4 miles remaining on battery power. The high temperature during the demo period was over 100? F most days.

If you haven't ever looked at a Volt close up, it's a nice car. Not nice for a Chevy, nice full stop. The demo car we had is a 2011, with the Dark Grey metallic paint. The interior is black leather, and it has the dark center stack and interior accents. In 2011, the only option package available was leather seats, so this car is loaded. I grew up in a BMW family, and this car is as nice as any of the BMWs we has growing up. It's nearly as nice as my 2001 M Coupe.

So, we are going to buy the demo car. The 2012 model has less stuff in it standard. To build a 2012 that's equivalent to a 2011, it ends up being a couple grand more expensive. The dealer has to keep the demo car for 6 months, but that time is up next week, so we'll go pick the car up 7 days from now.

While we've been waiting, I've been looking into home charging stations. The car comes with a 120VAC charger, but it turns out that the Dallas/Ft. Worth area is one of the areas where there is currently a DoE sponsored program, the upshot of which is we can get a free 240VAC charger, including installation. The electrician comes out to do the site survey tomorrow. It'll be a Blink charging station, and it's supposed to cut charge time from 9 to 4 hours.

So that's where we are so far. Once we get something to take pictures of, I'll post a few. Also, if you have questions, post 'em up and I'll answer them once we have the car, unless I already knew the answer from the demo.

Jay2TheRescue 10-10-2011 05:09 PM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
Congratulations on the new car. I had been looking at the Volt, and I thought it was a nice looking car, but its priced a bit more than I had budgeted for a new car.

IndyFetch 10-10-2011 08:14 PM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jay2TheRescue (Post 163885)
Congratulations on the new car. I had been looking at the Volt, and I thought it was a nice looking car, but its priced a bit more than I had budgeted for a new car.

Jay,

Car and Driver magazine did a comparison between the Volt and the Cruze Eco in this month's issue. It's right up your alley. The Volt is a nicer car, but in a driving loop that contained some city driving, some regular commuting, and a long highway trip, it only averaged 3 mpg less than the Volt. In the commuting section, the lead-foot editors at C/D actually managed to get 47 mpg out of the Cruze. I'm not a Chevy guy, but that's impressive. And there's supposed to be a diesel Cruze for 2013.

dwiggins,

Congrats on the new car. It seems like you did your homework and found the most cost-effective way to purchase the Volt. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that I'm eager to see how this car does over the long haul. Be sure to take advantage of the tax incentive (I think it's $7,500!!!!) at the end of the year.

VX_Arky 10-10-2011 10:54 PM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
This is great! Can't wait to read more about this car!!! Hope to own one myself someday!!!

theholycow 10-11-2011 02:56 AM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Fetch (Post 163888)
Car and Driver magazine did a comparison between the Volt and the Cruze Eco in this month's issue. It's right up your alley. The Volt is a nicer car, but in a driving loop that contained some city driving, some regular commuting, and a long highway trip, it only averaged 3 mpg less than the Volt.

Interesting. Compared to dwiggins' wife getting 34 miles per day with some juice leftover using no gas at all, I wonder what happened? Natural differences in route/driving style/etc seem most likely (a long test run without charging could make the difference), but that real world report makes me wonder if C&D had an agenda and stacked the test...

IndyFetch 10-11-2011 03:20 AM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by theholycow (Post 163891)
Interesting. Compared to dwiggins' wife getting 34 miles per day with some juice leftover using no gas at all, I wonder what happened? Natural differences in route/driving style/etc seem most likely (a long test run without charging could make the difference), but that real world report makes me wonder if C&D had an agenda and stacked the test...

The test ran a 43-mile city loop, a 42-mile "commuting" loop, and an 894-mile highway trip. The Volt used no gas during the city and commuting loops. I believe the magazine charged the car overnight at a hotel during the highway loop (it took them 4 hotels before they found one "suitable").

If you never drive more than 30-40 miles in a day, the Volt will be a much better choice. C/D is an enthusiast magazine, so I think their point was to measure what kind of mileage you can expect if you drive a lot. The Volt obtained 40 mpg over the highway loop, but the Cruze Eco got 42. The Cruze Eco also obtained 47 mpg on the "commuting" loop. I thought that was awesome.

I am wondering: If the Cruze Eco can put up those numbers without direct injection or other tweaks, what could they do with DI? What mileage figures should we expect for the diesel?

theholycow 10-11-2011 04:33 AM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
Ah, that does make sense, and they got even more miles out of a charge than our real world example.

I wouldn't exactly say the Cruze Eco lacks "other tweaks", it's got a 1.4L turbocharged engine, probably with everything internal (valve timing, etc) optimized for FE...though I'm surprised that it lacks direct injection in this day and age.

Jay2TheRescue 10-11-2011 07:32 AM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
Currently I'm mulling over the idea of a Ford Escape Hybrid, as my truck requires more repairs than Its worth for a daily driver. The Escape Hybrid is the highest MPG 4WD available right now.

IndyFetch 10-11-2011 07:51 AM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
Get it quick. It's about to be discontinued, if it has not already. The new Escape will debut soon. The V6 and Hybrid models are bye-bye. The V6 will be replaced by an Ecoboost 4-banger.

My aunt had a Tribute with the V6, and didn't have any problems until the ABS controller started leaking. The dealer told her it was worth more than the car (it was about 6 years old at the time), so she sold it.

Jay2TheRescue 10-11-2011 08:54 AM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
I'm looking at slightly used anyway, unless I can get a killer deal on a new one.

bowtieguy 10-11-2011 01:29 PM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
doesn't apply to you Jay, but i have it on good authority that honda and toyota are just a few weeks away from bringing mass inventories following recovery from the Japan earthquake. apparently they're motivated to get back their share of the market, and will offer quite good incentives to buyers!

dwiggins 10-11-2011 02:40 PM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
another update, this time on our 240VAC charging station.

I got a call from SPX (the company chosen by GM to handle home charging station installs) the other day to schedule a time for an electrician to come out to the house to do recon for the actual charger install. They said they had a window from noon-3pm open. I'd asked for something early in the morning, so I could just go into work a little late. they didn't have anything, so we agreed that they'd call me 30ish minutes before the guy was supposed to show up so i could get home.

today, i expected to get a call in the early afternoon. instead, as i looked at my email immediately upon arrival at work, there's an email that says "we'll be there at 10am"

arrghhh.

so, i go back home to meet the electrician. he takes a few pictures of the area where the charger will be installed, and of the electrical panel. i ask him if they received the pictures that SPX required me to take and upload to get the process started.

apparently, no.

not sure why SPX requires photos if they're not going to forward them to the electricians who actually need them. the guy that came out to the house basically duplicated the work i'd already done, and burned a bunch of gas in his pickup truck to do it.

luckily, this is for a DoE sponsored freebie charger program. if I was paying out of my own pocket for this level of grabassery, i'd be pretty peeved.

tl:dr - SPX seems to not know wtf they're doing.

VX_Arky 10-11-2011 08:30 PM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
Gotta figure with any start-up situation there will be some hiccups along the way.

Jay2TheRescue 10-12-2011 06:59 AM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
@Fetch: From the looks of Ford's website, it does not look like the Escape Hybrid is being discontinued. You can build, price, and search dealer inventory for a 2012 Escape Hybrid.

trollbait 10-12-2011 01:01 PM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
The announcement about the hybrid Escape was recent, and applies to the refresh or next generation. I would guess it is concerning the MY 2013 then. They are expecting mileage comparable to the hybrid with the ecoboost, and likely focusing hybrid part production for the C-max coming out that year.

I haven't checked Ford hybrids, but lightly used Toyota's generally go for nearly as much as new here.

Jay2TheRescue 10-12-2011 05:26 PM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
If you don't care how many miles are on the vehicle, an Escape Hybrid can be had for as low as $5,000. My brother in law (who works as a service manager in a Ford dealer) says he has only ever seen one Escape Hybrid that required new batteries, and that was a battery pack that was defective from the factory. He says they should outlast the vehicle, but I'm still hesitant about buying one with high mileage. One local dealer still has a new, never titled 2010 Escape Hybrid. I'm tempted to see what they'll take for it, but imagine if its still on their lot after all this time, they probably aren't marking it down any. Its a black one anyway, so it would have to be a heck of a deal for me to take it.

IndyFetch 10-13-2011 04:12 AM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jay2TheRescue (Post 163950)
If you don't care how many miles are on the vehicle, an Escape Hybrid can be had for as low as $5,000. My brother in law (who works as a service manager in a Ford dealer) says he has only ever seen one Escape Hybrid that required new batteries, and that was a battery pack that was defective from the factory. He says they should outlast the vehicle, but I'm still hesitant about buying one with high mileage. One local dealer still has a new, never titled 2010 Escape Hybrid. I'm tempted to see what they'll take for it, but imagine if its still on their lot after all this time, they probably aren't marking it down any. Its a black one anyway, so it would have to be a heck of a deal for me to take it.

I hate black cars myself, but that sounds like you could get a heck of a deal on it.

The Hybrid is being discontinued for the 2013 model year.

Beware of really cheap used Escape Hybrids. A lot of municipalities and service industries used them as company/city vehicles. They may be maintained, but they are not dealer maintained; they are usually maintained by the city garage, and they probably don't have much experience with hybrids. You also get into the rental car issue; i.e., people don't care for a vehicle that isn't their own as well as they would their personal car.

I'd run a CarFax check on it before I buy it.

theholycow 10-13-2011 04:28 AM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
What are the special maintenance needs of a hybrid or electric vehicle, anyway?

trollbait 10-13-2011 06:04 AM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
There is none.
There might be a seperate cooling system for the invertor to care for.
Some things might not be as easy for DIYers, but that goes for any new car these days. ex. The Prius requires a Toyota scanner to bleed the brakes, which might be true for a regular with ABS. But, the shoes and pads will last in excess of 100k miles.

theholycow 10-13-2011 06:17 AM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
AFAIK all manufacturers' ABS requires their specific scanner, or an expensive aftermarket scanner with that specific feature, to bleed the ABS modules. You can still bleed the rest of the system the old fashioned way.

Jay2TheRescue 10-13-2011 10:27 AM

Re: Chevy Volt ownership experience
 
My brother in law says the only hybrid specific maintenance for the Escape/Fusion is to make sure the air filter for the battery pack ventilation system is kept clean.


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