Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What I plan to log when my Volt arrives...

I think one of the unknowns for me regarding electric/hybrid vehicles is their performance in cold weather. By performance I don't only mean electric range, but overall comfort and use as well. For example a friend of mine has a Nissan Leaf and mentioned that it is never truly "hot" inside the car during the winter. He also mentions there are little quirks like having LED lights means they do not get hot enough to melt any ice that accumulates.

Montreal is a perfect testbed considering our winter days routinely hit -20 degrees Celsius (-4 F). We are all aware that the driving range will drop in colder temperatures and I plan to find out by how much. I love the fact that you can "precondition" the cabin temperature when the Volt is plugged in. I think this can help minimize the affects of colder temperatures since the car will be warmed up before you roll out. The HVAC system uses quite a bit of power, especially when the rear defogger is running, the heated seats are on and the fan and heating are at full blast (which can include the air conditioning compressor!). This is a few kW for sure. The owner's manual really recommends using the heated seats only if possible, but at -20 C that will not be comfortable. I am curious to see how the climate system's "ECO" mode handles these lower temperatures. I will also be monitoring fuel consumption. The Volt requires 91 octane which is significantly more expensive than our already expensive gasoline. Sure some people still put lower octanes but I will not be going that route. According to the GM website, the 2014 Volt has a fuel consumption of:

  • 6.7L/100km  City
  • 5.9L/100km Highway 
  • Combined: 6.4L/100km

Now these numbers are sometimes ambitious however they are still really good, especially compared to my Mazda3 (2.3litre). I am getting 10 L/100km in the winter for sure.  

I did not get the Volt to "save money on gas" considering a used car would have saved me tens of thousands compared to the purchase price of the Volt. However since I am part of the perfect Volt "demographic" the savings are still there. I live close to work so I can probably drive 2-3 days before charging. I currently spend upwards of $80 per month on gas and I estimate it will be around $6 to $12 per month of electricity in the Volt. Hydro Quebec keeps upping their rates however we still pay some of the lowest electricity around! On a given day it is a maximum of 7.78 cents per kWh (as of this writing). So technically a FULL charge (16.5 kW) is just $1.28. However I will not usually be charging it fully every single day, and this might be even less if I can charge at work. We also need to add the "preconditioning" power usage and the occasional engine maintenance (runs the engine for 10 minutes when not used for 6 weeks or so). These add to the costs but I will be surprised if I even hit $8 per month. 


  1. Be sure to get the heaviest cord possible it you must use an extension, You will be pleasantly surprised at the lifetime mpg. Mine is 164 mpg lifetime after 10 months of normal use. My commute is 62 miles each way and on that run I get 84 mpg but only do it 3-4 times /month. The rest of the driving is 92% EV. Those figures do not include electricity, It is 90% free for me.

  2. Thanks for the information! You are getting incredible fuel economy! I picked up a 25ft 12/3 extension cord and from what I have read it will be totally fine. I need to pick up a GFCI adapter and I'll be set.