Friday, June 27, 2014

Lots of updates since last entry!

Apologies for the lack of posts. Lots has happened since the first engine maintenance mode! I had a few rattles checked by the dealer and here is what they came back with:

  • There is a technical service bulletin to adjust the shocks and struts. I felt the suspension would bounce twice per axle when hitting bumps before I brought the car in. They confirmed that it wasn't normal, and after they followed the TSB, the Volt handles all types of bumps perfectly now. With the horrible roads here in Montreal, the suspension issue was driving me crazy!
  • A (supposed) common problem with Volts is a rattling glove box when there are items in it. I had the owner's manual filling up the glove box and it would rattle at the top left corner. The dealer replaced some of the components and it seemed to fix the issue for about 1.5 weeks. Now it is rattling again when things are in it. I emptied the glove box out for now and it eliminated the rattling. I will have the dealer check it out when I swap to winter tires.
  • The hatchback door seemed to rattle but it was difficult to point out. The dealer looked into it and adjusted the rubber stoppers. No more rattling from the rear!

I am disappointed that a 2014 car has had 2 trips to the dealer already in less than 1000km but Hamel has provided excellent service so far. Everything is perfect now so I am happy!

The Volt had a second engine maintenance mode run and this time I let it run while parked. Total gas burned: 0.13 litres!!! Much better than the 0.72l burned when EMM ran while driving!

So after driving a total of 1022km I have used 0.85 litres of gas! I never used gas for driving so far, on for EMM.

The Volt is also getting used to my driving habits and commute. It now estimates 92km on a charge! I know. I can drive close to 92km with this weather (24 degrees C, stop and go traffic, no a/c needed). My work commute makes it extremely easy to hit over 80km on a single charge because I am usually in slow moving traffic for only a short distance, with the rest being city driving. I am in the perfect demographic for the Volt's capabilities and I can easily say that the Volt is amazing at what it does. I love this car more and more every second that I drive it. With gas hitting $1.53 per litre, I will easily save over $150 compared to me Mazda3.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

First engine maintenance mode!

Upon powering up the Volt on Friday I got a message on the main display asking me if the Volt can run the engine for 10 minutes or so. I tapped "Yes" and the engine instantly started. I decided to let it run while driving. On the DIC, the Volt displays the percent complete. My EMM ran for about 6 minutes or so. I thought the engine was a little loud initially but when driving I didn't notice it and especially didn't notice when EMM was done. At the end of my drive to work, it said it used 0.72 litres orf gas ($1.10 worth). Not too bad! I just read on that you burn even less gas if you let EMM run while in Park. I will try that next time for sure. But that will be in 6 weeks since I have never come close to running out of battery.

I learned a couple of new things this week. When you load up the climate screen, you can go back to the radio by hitting the "back" button on the console. I initially thought I had to hit "Home" then re-select the source! Also, on my DIC (driver information center) I always had the display for instantaneous kW usage. If you hit the "back" button beside the DIC selector dial then it will close the display. This makes the DIC a lot less busier.

Range-wise, I am pretty sure I can hit over 70km on a charge. If the kW usage is accurate, then I managed 27.8km on 4kW. This results in 70km if I use up all 10.2 (or10.3) kW. The range estimate is still adjusting to me as it showed 59km total range, but then after driving 20 km it showed 49km left!

I love my L2 charger! Everytime I go to my parents' house even for just 30 minues, I will get a nice jump in range. Once chargers are installed in malls, restaurants etc. it will make EVs infinitely more practical!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

EVLink L2 charger installed!

Valko Electrique did an absolutely flawless job with the installation! My father was there and he had nothing but praise for Mathieu who did the installation! The quality of the installation from the custom bent tubing, to the 8 AWG cabling is better than I could have ever asked for. Thanks again to members for recommending Valko! Worth every penny (1/2 the price of another installer's quote). Here are some pics of the Schneider Electric EV230WSR charging station on the wall, and of the Volt plugged in!

Both the covered car and the red Corvette in the background are 1971 Stingrays that my brother, father and I restored over the last 14+ years. The Volt is the polar opposite of those cars!

Installing Schneider Electric EV230WSR today!

The installer should be arriving any moment now to install my Schneider Electric EV230WSR today! It will be installed at my parents' house since I am renting. After asking on the Forums for an installer, I decided to go with Valko Electrique Inc. Can't wait to see the Volt plugged in!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Getting excellent range!

I finally took the Volt on a longer trip to my in-laws (15km each way). The temperature was around 18-19 C so no heating or fan was required. The trip to my in-laws allowed for a good amount of coasting/regenerative braking. Using "L" in traffic is a life-changing experience! Not only do you get intense regen (according to the DIC upwards of -10kW), but one-pedal driving is so comfortable and natural. The tires are quieter than I expected at 80km/h so that was a pleasant surprise. We had the windows opened and there was no wind buffeting in the cabin. The driver's seat is perfectly comfortable for me, despite the lack of lumbar support. Granted, a 25 minute drive isn't not the same as a 7 hour drive but so far the seat is very comfortable. Montreal has a few good radio stations but XM radio is nice for longer trips. There is always something on if you have the patience to search for it.

Roundtrip (including stop at my parent's house) showed a total of 39.6km on about 48% of battery! I don't know if the battery level indicator is accurate though (unlike the Mazda3 gas tank where the top half of the gas tank burns much slower than the lower half !). If it is then I can hit 80km on a charge at that rate! That's 50 miles on a charge! I will be perfectly happy with 60-65 km on one charge, so 80 would be a nice bonus. In any case, 50 cents of electricity for a round trip to my in-laws is amazing!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Range estimation changing as I drive the car more

When I first got the Volt, it estimated I can do 50km on a full charge. When I drove the Volt 9km to work, the number only dropped to 46km! The range is estimated based on previous driving. I guess the initial 472km involved aggressive drivers because it looks like I am much smoother on the throttle. The range now estimates 52km and this will keep going up as the weather improves.

Honestly I do not put much effort in driving economically since my normal driving style keeps the green leaf-ball in the center all of the time. I need to improve braking though, I still expect regular regen to slow down the car more, but the Volt coasts even further than my Mazda3! They were not kidding about low-rolling-resistance tires!

My goal is to join the 50-mile (or 80km) club this summer! Not sure what it will take to get that kind of range but there's only one way to find out! I am against extreme hypermiling (tailgating/drafting, driving through stops etc.) so only normal driving for me.

Review after first long (9km) drive

I finally took the Volt for a "longish" drive (to one of our Montreal offices). It was about 9km, early in the morning and it involved driving on the highway while in traffic. I experimented with Sport mode, "L" mode and played with the navigation system.

Sport mode is addictive! The throttle response is virtually instantaneous compared to "Normal" mode! You can easily feel the difference.

Driving in "L" instead of "D" allows for more aggressive regen (feels exactly like engine braking when downshifting a manual tranny). It also allows for "1-pedal" driving when stuck in traffic and I am sold on the concept! I literally drove 3/4 of the trip without touching the brakes in stop-and-go traffic! This will extend the life of the brakes by a significant amount! When I got off the highway I switched back to "D" to coast longer. Needless to say, driving in traffic has become a lot more bearable!

As for the navigation, I still find the interface a little busy (still used to a tiny old Garman). Initially the view was zoomed out so far I saw the whole island of Montreal. It did not automatically zoom in when I started driving either. While driving it was not obvious how to zoom in, and I accidentally figured it out when I turned the "Tune" dial instead of the "Volume" dial. Tuning allowed me to choose the visible distance so I zoomed in to 100 meters. Much better. I really like when the right-half of the screen shows what the next turn looks like really zoomed in, while still leaving the route on the left. Nice touch. In general the navigation works well and I just need to get used to how much more information it can provide.

The Volt came with a 3 month XM satellite radio subscription. Given that my commute is short, it is not worth $16 per month to me (although I hear you can get massive discounts when you tell them you do not want to subscribe). However, the channels are great and there was always a song I liked on one channel or another. I find the quality has improved from when I remember listening to XM on rental cars. It usually sounded like low bitrate mp3 files. Thankfully not anymore. If you have a big enough data plan on your cellphone you can just use internet radio streaming though.

Of course I have to mention how quiet the cabin is. It is so serene and almost Zen-like to drive the Volt! Everyone who has been in the Volt finds the quietness strange, but in a great way! I drove 3 colleagues around the parking lot and they were all pleasantly surprised at the ride quality, the interior look-and-feel and the complete lack of NVH. When people see the interior, they all react the same way: the 4 bucket seats look fantastic!

I think Volt owners are the best marketing tool for this car. Chevy has had a winner since 2011 yet it is not on anyone's radar. I am glad I took the plunge and I hope to get at least 3 people (my aunt, my friend and a colleague) to buy a Volt by the end of this year!