Volt Consumer Advisory Board Report

Earlier this week I and 14 other members from around the country had to turn in our Chevy Volt consumer advisory board test cars, having completed our 90 – day assignments

I possessed and exclusively drove that car from November 11, 2010 until February 9, 2011.

In those 90 days I put on 5100 miles of primarily intensive high speed highway driving through some particularly harsh Northeast winter conditions including several snowstorms, icy roads and uniformly sub freezing temperatures.

As many new owners can attest, the car handled like a champ.  It was a rock-solid dependable vehicle that was a pleasure to drive.

For the 5100 miles I achieved a lifetime average of 110 miles per gallon.  This reflected driving 60 miles per day round trip with a typical EV range of between 25 and 30 miles.  I burned 46 gallons of gas.

My gas usage was higher and EV range lower than most drivers due to the nature of my long daily commute of 60 miles, high speed 90% highway driving, and robust use of the cabin temperature controls, keeping the car set to 74 degrees of comfort mode at all times.

I used the iPhone app only sparingly often not remembering to pre-heat the cabin, which if I had done so would have increased my EV range by about 5%.

I never experienced any mechanical or electrical problems with the car at all.  It behaved flawlessly.  I always found it comfortable an inviting.

Acceleration was sufficiently energetic and the car always outperformed the basic sedans of the road passing  and entering highways with ease.  I used sport mode about half of the time, and drove in the L position nearly all of the time.

The center stack remained a little bit tricky for me.  I enjoyed its high tech qualities and modern implications but always tended to hunt for my key of choice a bit much and didn’t always find hitting it that easy.  It did not work with a gloved hand.  I truly enjoyed the center stack touch screen, though wished the music wouldn’t come on every time the screen turned on.  A separate radio on/off switch is needed.  More scientific energy usage data, and a more refined eco-coach ball would also be helpful.

Plugging in and charging using the 240-v Voltec charger was simple and satisfying, and the iPhone app helped remind me to a couple of times when I forgot.  I opportunity-charged at my office during the day for a few hours here and there using the 120-v portable charger which also worked flawlessly.

Overall I spent roughly 70% of my time driving in EV mode.  During the 3 months I covered over 100 miles in  day (the max range of a pure EV) at least 6 to 8 times.

It has been my dream for many years to be able to drive without gasoline and to see our country wean itself from oil addiction.  From 2009 to 2010 I drove a MINI E 100 mile electric car.  That vehicle allowed me to achieve about 90 percent of my daily driving but in cold weather came close to or at zero after covering 60 miles.  I did have range anxiety and required increased trip planning forethought.

The Volt allowed me to enjoy the pleasure of electric driving for the vast majority of the time and yet I never had to give a thought to range.

This was the goal of the concept from 2007 and GM has achieved it perfectly.

I have been driving my own purchased Volt for the past 2 days and I am struck by a much more refined level of driving and detail quality. Clearly there are subtle improvements over the capture test fleet car.

I fully expect in the years ahead the Volt to become a highly popular car and finally the roads of this country will growingly be populated with cars that can drive without gas.  The dream is now a reality.  We are starting to wean off of oil.

On of the benefits of driving the Volt is the free five year OnStar subscription.  For the Volt, OnStar is particularly feature-rich as it monitors the health and functioning of the car and its components, as well as keeping track of its ongoing energy consumption.

I started driving my consumer advisory board Volt on November 11, and had been waiting for my first full month report to post it here.  I received my first detailed  full month’s OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report on January 10th reflecting the driving behavior of the preceding 30 days.  The information is displayed in the graphic above.

According to the report, for that period I drove the car 3443 miles. Of those, 2432 were on electricity and 1011 were on gas, indicating that 71% of my miles were electric.

Overall gas fuel economy for the month was 114 mpg, and it was estimated that by using electricity I saved 103 gallons of gas.

A particular interesting number the system determined was that my electrcity consumption was 19 kwh per 100 miles. The system also claimed by driving the Volt 2,014 pounds of CO2 production were avoided.

During the month of January, the weather was quite cold and I used comfort mode cabin setting with a temperature of 74 degrees plus one bar of heated seats. I also drove mostly at highway speeds and experienced typical EV driving ranges in the high 20s.

I charged to full every evening at 240-volts and opportunity charged during the day at 110-v anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. It is known the Volt will draw 12.9 kwh of grid energy to replete the 10.6 kwh of battery power used for the full EV driving range.

These data confirm the success of the Volt as a highly flexible vehicle without compromises that can displace substantial amounts of gasoline consumption, utilizing electricity efficiently and less expensively to do so.