Dec 13

Effect of Chevy Volt Driving and Braking Modes on Efficiency and Range

 


[ad#post_ad]Drivers of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt have three driving modes to choose from; normal, sports, and mountain mode.

The mountain mode is rarely used.  It acts to cause the range extender turn on at higher charge point of the battery.  This allows a deeper battery reserve for use when travelling up a long steep grade.  In nearly 2000 miles of driving I have never found the need to use it.

When the car is powered on it is in regular mode by default.  This provides a standard accelerator experience. Pressing the drive mode button twice causes the car to shift into sports mode.  Once engaged the driver will feel the car surge forward, and it becomes much more spirited in acceleration.

GM Volt director Tony Posawatz once mentioned that the car would get the same efficiency or EV range whether the driver was in sports mode or regular mode.  Top power out put is the same 110 kw, and flooring the pedal produces the same response in both instances.

“On the various EPA federal test procedure cycles, the efficiencies are basically the same, says Posawatz.

It is true, though that driver behavior is a more prominent factor.  Aggressive use of the accelerator in sports mode will lead to more range reduction than the same use of the accelerator in normal mode.

“Sport mode may cause you to have a bit more fun and if you fully realize the fun opportunities, you will be a bit less efficient,” says Posawatz.

In my experience driving the car, I tend to prefer sports mode, and use it all the time.  Tony Posawatz also drives a captured test fleet Volt and uses it a bit differently.

“I have found that I use Sport mode and have fun when I know that I will make it to my charging station without using gas and with time to charge,” he said.  ”It is my guilty pleasure.”

“Similarly, I have changed my driving a bit to see if I can beat the “video game” and improve my numbers,” he added.

Braking is another issue.

When in D mode, the car softly coasts similarly to a conventional car when the foot is off the accelerator. L mode engages a strong regenerative drag when the foot is off the accelerator that allows the driver to simulate a downshift effect and get motor braking, sparing the disc brakes from wear.

It has been my preference to drive at speed in D mode, but when needing to slow or in stop and go traffic I use the L mode.

Posawatz explains that overall efficiency doesn’t differ much between these two settings either.

“Relative to D vs. L, there also is not a lot of difference in efficiency between the two,” he said. “Going down Pikes Peak, you want to be in L.”

“You want to use the coast of drive and then shift into L as you approach a stop, he added. “I use the L a lot because it is a more engaging drive, especially in Sport and on winding roads.”

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 13th, 2010 at 8:01 am and is filed under Efficiency, Features, Performance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 56


  1. 1
    nasaman

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (8:05 am)

    Lyle: “In my experience driving the car, I tend to prefer sports mode, and use it all the time.”

    You’re my kinda guy, Lyle! I’ve test driven a Volt twice and ‘played with’ both Sport Mode and ‘Low’ both times. Having owned (and loved) an IROC Z-28 Camaro, I’d probably use Sport Mode all the time. And I’m so used to downshifting my motorcycle and my last two cars when slowing, I’d probably leave my Volt in “L” most of the time as well. It’s all about the “Volt smile”!


  2. 2
    nasaman

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (8:15 am)

    PS to above post: I keep cars for 10 years or more and rarely ever have to replace pads or rotors —which I’m convinced is a side benefit of downshifting as I’m slowing down, even with an automatic. BTW, automatics have improved so much that I’ve not had to have one rebuilt (or even repaired) for the last 3 cars (all GM), so I don’t believe downshifting is causing discernible wear. So I love the idea of driving with one foot and seldom having to swivel on my heel to use the brake (except at full stop).


  3. 3
    Loboc

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (8:15 am)

    I think these ‘modes’ are unnecessary and confusing. The car can ultimately be programmed to automate mode changes based on driver and GPS inputs.

    Some transmission controls and engine controls already ‘learn’ how the driver likes to drive. Volt could do this as well.

    GPS could be used to anticipate terrain and anticipate plug-in opportunities. Ya might want the car to dip into the reserve more if you’re only a mile from home, for example. Trips could be kept so that the car can guess what your driving needs will be like that day.

    Multiple drivers could be recognized with a different key. The car could reconfigure itself for their preferences.

    The whole ‘mode’ thing should be revisited for GenII.


  4. 4
    Baltimore17

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (8:32 am)

    Loboc: I think these ‘modes’ are unnecessary and confusing. The car can ultimately be programmed to automate mode changes based on driver and GPS inputs.
    Some transmission controls and engine controls already ‘learn’ how the driver likes to drive. Volt could do this as well.

    The Volt already does learn how the driver likes to drive. Note that a full charge, on Lyle’s Volt, registers as 33 miles instead of, say, 40 miles. It knows he likes to blow through the charge with a grin on his face, accelerator pressed into the joy zone and tropical breezes in the passenger compartment during a New York winter. I’d be interested to know the range that other CAB drivers have seen on the display when fully charged, and what their driving styles are.

    As far as mode confusion, automatic transmissions have had a “L” for decades, and, 15 years ago, my 1993 Saturn had a “normal/economy” mode switch to change the shift points and “feel”. Is it possible to be confused by the former? And as far as the latter, I got used to the mode switch the first time I drove the Saturn, flicked the switch, thought “oh, so that’s what it does” and left it in “economy” for the next ten years. So, in my case, “unnecessary” yes, but not for other Saturn buyers. And not confusing at all.


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    bookdabook

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (8:47 am)

    Personally I tried mtn mode at the test drive in SD in Oct. and found it annoyingly loud like an engine revving at 4000 rpms. Still trying to figure the use of that. The original explanation of being necessary for 6% grades doesn’t seem to be holding based on driving reports. Maybe if you want to conserve on battery so you have it when you do a stealth approach to your home late at night so the spouse doesn’t wake up ;)

    Hoping to hear some shipping news this week,
    waitin’ on #135, and time to go surfin’ cold out there now,
    -Book


  6. 6
    Mark Z

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (8:48 am)

    GM is right. The Volt is more car than electric. PRNDL must stay. The modes make the car fun to drive, like a sport car. I want to have fun! Keep the manual modes.

    Don’t mess with “The Car of the Year.”

    PS to GM: Add an automatic mode for Gen II? Only if you keep the manual modes as well.


  7. 7
    ClarksonCote

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (8:51 am)

    Loboc: I think these ‘modes’ are unnecessary and confusing. The car can ultimately be programmed to automate mode changes based on driver and GPS inputs.Some transmission controls and engine controls already ‘learn’ how the driver likes to drive. Volt could do this as well. GPS could be used to anticipate terrain and anticipate plug-in opportunities. Ya might want the car to dip into the reserve more if you’re only a mile from home, for example. Trips could be kept so that the car can guess what your driving needs will be like that day. Multiple drivers could be recognized with a different key. The car could reconfigure itself for their preferences.The whole ‘mode’ thing should be revisited for GenII.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    These switches provide the ability for the driver to have the experience they prefer, depending on the situation. No amount of computer programming can match that capability without some trade-off in efficiency. I’m glad to see they have these options and look forward to using all of them as circumstances warrant. JMHO.

    join thE REVolution


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    Gsned57

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (8:54 am)

    When I got my test drive in NYC last April I loved the L mode. It reminded me of my hydrostatic Kubota I used to mow lawns with. For long highway stints without any stopping I’d probably put the cruise on but for driving around town I think I’d always be in L and avoid hitting the brakes.

    I remember the post from a year or so ago when they were driving down pikes peak and the ranger was stationed half way with a temperature gun to make sure peoples brakes weren’t over heating. When the volt got there the brakes were at ambient temperature and the ranger was thoroughly confused. Great post! I’d love to not have to replace brake pads or rotors again! Just gotta remember to stomp on the brakes every once in a while to get the rust off.


  9. 9
    Bungoman

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (8:55 am)

    Loboc: I think these ‘modes’ are unnecessary and confusing. The car can ultimately be programmed to automate mode changes based on driver and GPS inputs.Some transmission controls and engine controls already ‘learn’ how the driver likes to drive. Volt could do this as well. GPS could be used to anticipate terrain and anticipate plug-in opportunities. Ya might want the car to dip into the reserve more if you’re only a mile from home, for example. Trips could be kept so that the car can guess what your driving needs will be like that day. Multiple drivers could be recognized with a different key. The car could reconfigure itself for their preferences.The whole ‘mode’ thing should be revisited for GenII.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    What a weird position to take! The mode button on the Prius is beloved. The demographic who will purchase the Volt are specifically the type of “tweakers” that demand the ability to choose modes. How can you possibly say what you just said? Seriously, I gotta know!


  10. 10
    Dave G

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (8:57 am)

    bookdabook: Personally I tried mtn mode at the test drive in SD in Oct. and found it annoyingly loud like an engine revving at 4000 rpms. Still trying to figure the use of that.

    In mountain mode, the charge level of the battery is kept higher so you’ll have full power when you’re driving up a very long steep grade.

    Remember that the battery always supplies peak power. The gas eninge is only around 75 horsepower. The battery and electric motor supply 150 hp.

    bookdabook: The original explanation of being necessary for 6% grades doesn’t seem to be holding based on driving reports.

    It would have to be a very long, consistently steep uphill grade for the battery to run out of power in regular mode. So I doubt most people would need to use mountain mode.
    .


  11. 11
    Mark Z

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (9:23 am)

    bookdabook: Personally I tried mtn mode at the test drive…The original explanation of being necessary for 6% grades doesn’t seem to be holding based on driving reports…    

    This is where inputs from the owners will be invaluable. Since the Volt may slow to 40 MPH on a steep grade if Mountain Mode is not used, we will want to know the interstate locations where it is necessary. Number of passengers, speed, SOC, and the age of the battery should affect results. We will learn from others when they forget to turn Mountain Mode on.

    Here is a link to a book on grades for truckers and RV’s: http://www.mountaindirectory.com

    Personally, I plan to use Mountain Mode before Canon Pass to Las Vegas and Parley’s Summit to Park City, UT.


  12. 12
    Tim Hart

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (9:29 am)

    A little off topic but I thought of something today about Lyle’s experience of the engine coming on in the EV mode to warm the battery in low temperatures. Would it be a good idea to leave the power on, (and the door locked of course), if the car was going to be parked for hours when its really cold and can’t be plugged in? Would the engine cycle on and off in that situation to warm the battery? I called a Volt advisor and so far haven’t got a response. Does anyone know about that option? If not, I’ll post the answer when I find out.


  13. 13
    maharguitar

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (9:50 am)

    Tim Hart,

    This mode would be kind of dangerous. The car wouldn’t know if you were in an enclosed space and could kill someone. Carbon Monoxide is nasty stuff even in low concentrations. To turn on such a feature would have to require a multi step process so that you don’t do it accidentally. This would make it likely that it would never be used.


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    Tagamet

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (9:50 am)

    It seems a shame that Loboc is getting hammered for simply stating a personal choice. BTW, Bob Lutz had the same opinion about the GPS being able to make some choices when nearing home.
    Personally, I love the idea of having *options*. My ideal situation would be to be able to configure the “default mode” myself. I’d likely like it to be Sport mode and not have to change it every time I drive. City folks may want “L” to be the default. Just a thought.

    Be well,
    Tagamet


  15. 15
    kdawg

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (9:50 am)

    At my test drive I said I liked sport & L mode and was told “most of the engineers also prefer that combination.”


  16. 16
    CorvetteGuy

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (10:01 am)

    “It is my guilty pleasure.”
    Now that’s a phrase about the Volt I would not have thought of. ;)


  17. 17
    Tagamet

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (10:04 am)

    CorvetteGuy: “It is my guilty pleasure.”
    Now that’s a phrase about the Volt I would not have thought of.     

    It would also make a neat “Thought of the Day” ad.

    Be well,
    Tagamet


  18. 18
    scottf200

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (10:05 am)

    Loboc: I think these ‘modes’ are unnecessary and confusing. The car can ultimately be programmed to automate mode changes based on driver and GPS inputs….The whole ‘mode’ thing should be revisited for GenII.    

    You are right on with the Mountain Mode and the GPS…especially if you are using the GPS and have a destination set that is on showing your travel going there.

    kdawg: At my test drive I said I liked sport & L mode and was told “most of the engineers also prefer that combination.”    

    Otherwise I think they should just make the mode button a “sport” button like I saw it was initially on earlier prototypes videos. They need to make this stay on and not reset it when the car is turned off and on.

    Heck they could keep the Mountain Mode and the “Mode” but give GEN I the ability to KEEP the mode setting to where you last left it. Can we start a PETITION for a software upgrade?!?!?
    .


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    dave

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (10:19 am)

    after reading the article and comments so far, I find myself still left with the question of whether the car is more efficient at recovering braking energy when in ‘L’. so clearly ‘L’ brings in more regenerative effect with foot off the brake, but doesn’t lightly pressing the brake pedal do the same thing?

    I guess specifically I’m wondering if that is true, or perhaps the designers found it necessary to have the mechanical brakes begin engaging immediately (simultaneous with the regenerative effect) in order to provide a smooth braking experience… anybody know definitive answer to this?


  20. 20
    kdawg

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (10:19 am)

    scottf200: Otherwise I think they should just make the mode button a “sport” button like I saw it was initially on earlier prototypes videos. They need to make this stay on and not reset it when the car is turned off and on.
    Heck they could keep the Mountain Mode and the “Mode” but give GEN I the ability to KEEP the mode setting to where you last left it. Can we start a PETITION for a software upgrade?!?!?

    I wonder if they could just make a preset for each level. So you could set your level of “Sport” from 0 to 100% and your level of regen “L-mode” from 0 to 100%. Then it would stay there forever until someone adjusted it again.


  21. 21
    Loboc

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (10:34 am)

    Bungoman:
    What a weird position to take!The mode button on the Prius is beloved.The demographic who will purchase the Volt are specifically the type of “tweakers” that demand the ability to choose modes.How can you possibly say what you just said?Seriously, I gotta know!    

    This pretty much makes my point. The Volt was designed to be a normal car, not something that has to be manually ‘tweaked’. Having it emulate a Prius function is totally out of character.

    The car can tweak itself depending on other driver inputs and it’s own systems (GPS). There is no need for a mode switch.

    Once you pick your preferred ‘mode’, you won’t change it for 10 years anyway. The car should just do it for you.

    To me, this is just extra gadgetry that is not necessary. Targeting a geeky demographic will limit sales by eliminating more normal folk.


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    yoyodyn

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (10:40 am)

    Anyone know, (or can do the math), how steep a grade must be for a Volt to maintain speed with no accel in ‘L’? I would assume this would also charge the battery.


  23. 23
    Loboc

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (10:51 am)

    Tagamet: Personally, I love the idea of having *options*. My ideal situation would be to be able to configure the “default mode” myself. I’d likely like it to be Sport mode and not have to change it every time I drive. City folks may want “L” to be the default.

    This is the other problem I have with the current way that ‘mode’ works. Your personal settings should be permanent. You shouldn’t have to reset everything every time you get in your own car. It’s annoying.

    BTW, I don’t consider ‘L’ transmission selector position to be a ‘mode’. That’s a normal function that follows other car designs. It makes Volt more normal. However, since it’s just a setting and not actually ‘low gear’, it could be set as a preference.


  24. 24
    Kup

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (11:05 am)

    OT: Perhaps I should post this to the forums but answers are pretty quick here, so here goes.

    As some of you know my employer is going to make standard electrical sockets available out in the parking lot to charge electric cars. They are planning on running one 110V and one 220V. This forum already told me that the standard Volt cord will not work on the 220V line. The question that my Director of Facilities asked me was whether the cord that will need to be purchased for the 220V will come with the standard 3 prong male plug or if there is another National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) standard for that end of the cord? This will help him determine what type of socket he will need to install for users of the 220V line.

    Thanks in advance for the answers that are sure to come.


  25. 25
    DonC

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (11:11 am)

    Loboc: The car can tweak itself depending on other driver inputs and it’s own systems (GPS). There is no need for a mode switch.

    I think we have two different issues. The driver preference for modes is similar to what we’ve seen for a long time with stuff like seat and mirror positions. The driver sets the default position and that’s remembered by each driver’s fob. Then each time the fob shows up the car moves everything to the default position. You can do this by just having the car observe the driver’s pattern but my experience with this approach in the software world suggests that you’re better doing it manually.

    Personally I’d like to just put it in Sport and D and be done with it. If I got in a traffic jam, which I rarely do, I’ could just shift to L.

    Managing the battery and Mountain Mode is different. I’d think you would need the GPS to be set so the car would know where you were going but, if it were, I agree that it wouldn’t be difficult to implement what you’re suggesting. Learning the driving patters and guessing the driving route in order to cut more into the battery in order not to use gas is interesting. To the individual it wouldn’t matter much. Driving a mile wouldn’t use much gas and to some extent it would be beneficial — you’d get to run the engine a bit and burn off some of the gas so it didn’t go stale. However, turning on the engine would add a cold start which generates all the pollution, so from a social standpoint it would be a positive thing if it worked this way.


  26. 26
    DonC

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (11:30 am)

    Kup: Thanks in advance for the answers that are sure to come.

    You can’t use a standard 240V plug. You have to use either a “charger station” which is hardwired to the wall or a standard 120V outlet. If you had a 240 outlet you couldn’t use it since the J1772 cords which connect to the car will only plug into a 120V outlet. Moreover, since the charging station will cost $800 it’s a lot less expensive just to have a 120V outlet, and, since the cars will probably be sitting in place for most of the work day, the 120V should work equally well — there isn’t really a reason to charge faster. When putting in the 120V outlet the important point would be the amperage. You want them to be 20 amp which would allow for peak charging at 16 amps, which is the highest allowed by J1772 for 120V charging. More 120V outlets beat fewer 240V charging stations any day of the week.

    FWIW, even if some enterprising worker would figure out how to use a 240v outlet, your company would be crazy to offer it. The reason the charging station has to be hard wired to the wall is that it’s possible for a charge to remain on the male end even after charging is over. I can’t imagine your company would want the liability of violating code and having someone injure themselves.


  27. 27
    WK4P

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (11:36 am)

    I can see mountain mode being used extensively here in the NW NC mountains. The trip from the foothills to the mountains where I live involves a 6 mile steep clinb (I don’t know the grade but since I’ve climbed it many times on my bicycle I know it’s steep). Without the extra battery buffer provided by mountain mode I can see one topping the mountain at about 35 mph, being passed by Geo Metros, not a fun thought.

    The D and L settings are also important to us hillbillies. Going down that same 6 mile stretch the L setting would be needed. My wife uses L in the truck when empty and 2 when towing the camper to control speed on that mountain.

    Our 1981 Plymouth Champ had a twin stick with an economy/power setting. And sometimes the mood just hits even the most conservative driver to use the Power or sport setting. Driver control is a good thing. even our truck has 2 options for shift points, the regular setting and the “tow/haul” setting. Again these driver controls are nothing new and certainly not limited to the Volt.

    Of course if one never wants to touch the mode/transmission settings one has that option. Simply get in the car and drive, it’s that simple.

    How easy is it to switch from D to L or to switch modes? I can envision something like Chrysler’s Autostick being used here. I loved that feature when I drove Dodge demos at the Chevrolet/Chrysler dealership I worked at.


  28. 28
    GM Volt Fan

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (11:38 am)

    I wonder if Lyle is a skier. Maybe he’ll go on a ski trip soon and he can give us a report on how the Volt performs on really steep mountain roads. Not many people drive 70+ mph on really steep grades, but it would be nice to know that you COULD do it with a Volt if you really wanted to by using “mountain mode”.


  29. 29
    CorvetteGuy

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (11:38 am)

    Okay. The Thought of the Day:

    slogan53.jpg


  30. 30
    nasaman

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (11:41 am)

    dave: …I find myself still left with the question of whether the car is more efficient at recovering braking energy when in ‘L’. so clearly ‘L’ brings in more regenerative effect with foot off the brake, but doesn’t lightly pressing the brake pedal do the same thing?

    I guess specifically I’m wondering if that is true, or perhaps the designers found it necessary to have the mechanical brakes begin engaging immediately (simultaneous with the regenerative effect) in order to provide a smooth braking experience… anybody know definitive answer to this?

    Since no one’s answered this yet Dave, I’ll offer my answer/comment… Having done 2 test drives using “L”, I’m sure you don’t want to use the brake pedal instead of “L” to improve regenerative efficiency. First, because it’s hard to judge how far/fast to depress the brake pedal & it’s awkward to do it; and second, because it defeats another big advantage of using “L” —“one-pedal” driving* (except in hard stops or at full stops, of course). And no, the hydraulic-actuated pads/rotors do NOT engage simultaneously with the regenerative system in normal braking —only in hard/fast stops. That’s why many Prius drivers report not needing brake jobs done, sometimes out to 100k miles.

    /*One-pedal driving, as opposed to what some call “heel & toe” or “swivel-toe” normal driving can become almost addictive —it’s really a HUGE improvement, so for many it adds to the famous EV “smile factor”!


  31. 31
    Streetlight

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (11:41 am)

    Re: First LEAF delivered per Lyle’s Sat (Dec 11) article: http://www.contracostatimes.com/business/ci_16837324


  32. 32
    Raymondjram

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (11:44 am)

    Kup,

    If I remember correctly, the 220 VAC charger that is being sold for the Volt is a wall mounted device. I don’t believe it could be used mobile with a 220 VAC cable and plug on it. Asuming that you can use an extension cable for 220 VAC, I recomend #10 wire (increase the gage to #8 if it is over 50 feet long) and use L6-30P on the cable as the plug and L6-30R on the outlet. This is a “Twist-Lock” type so it will not be pulled out accidentaly, and it will guarantee a solid electrical connection. Although the Volt charger will take in about 20 Amps at 220 VAC, the 30 Amp rating for the cable. plug and outlet will has a much less voltage drop and will last longer than a 20 Amp rating and there isn’t much of an extra cost for it. If the outlet will be in an open area without weather protection, go for watertight connections , and get a tight outlet cover. I also recommend that the outlet be mounted inside a larger box with a lock or keyed system, so that only authorized users can open the box and use the outlet.

    I
    Raymond


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    Jackson

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (12:03 pm)

    One of the things I really miss about driving a manual is the ability to downshift on a hill, or approaching a stop. I’m glad to see that “D” and “L” are adjacent in the shifter; this should make it easier to engage than shifting into “S” and attacking the paddle-shifter (in my Fit).

    The good news keeps coming … even in the details!

    .


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    Mark Z

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (12:03 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: Okay. The Thought of the Day…    

    I think that Lyle was quoting Tony Posawatz, so shouldn’t the credit go to Tony?


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    Loboc

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (12:24 pm)

    WK4P: I can envision something like Chrysler’s Autostick being used here. I loved that feature when I drove Dodge demos at the Chevrolet/Chrysler dealership I worked at.

    That’s what I have right now. You can just put it in ‘D’, or, you can shift between gears. I use ’2′, ’3′, and ’4′ when in traffic to avoid using brakes. It’s a simple paddle-type movement of the console-mounted shifter (right and left) to go up and down in the gears. The driver display shows what gear you are in next to the PRND display. ‘D’ is fully automatic in this 5-speed box.

    The Chrysler TCM ‘learns’ how you drive and adjusts the shift points accordingly. With an aftermarket tool (such as Diablo Sport) you can reset back to ‘unlearned’ as well as set the shifter to be fully manual. (As well as other TCM and ECM settings such as tire size and octane requirement.) The dealer can set all these up for you as well.

    Other preferences that can be set include the key-fob lock/unlock. You (or the dealer) can reprogram the preference to unlock all doors on one key-press or unlock just the driver door on the first press and require two clicks to unlock all. This is done using the interface (if equipped) or using the key-fob itself. Dealers do it directly via the computer port.


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    kForceZero

     

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (12:33 pm)

    Tim Hart: A little off topic but I thought of something today about Lyle’s experience of the engine coming on in the EV mode to warm the battery in low temperatures. Would it be a good idea to leave the power on, (and the door locked of course), if the car was going to be parked for hours when its really cold and can’t be plugged in? Would the engine cycle on and off in that situation to warm the battery? I called a Volt advisor and so far haven’t got a response. Does anyone know about that option? If not, I’ll post the answer when I find out.    

    maharguitar: Tim Hart,
    This mode would be kind of dangerous.The car wouldn’t know if you were in an enclosed space and could kill someone.Carbon Monoxide is nasty stuff even in low concentrations. To turn on such a feature would have to require a multi step process so that you don’t do it accidentally. This would make it likely that it would never be used.    

    I don’t know if that’s an option or not but I do know that you can send it a command with your smartphone to have it warm up. This is equivalent to having a regular remote starter (which will obviously not work in a Volt). My remote starter can also be put in a mode where it starts the engine periodically every two hours for a couple of minutes. You’d obviously not be using this mode if the car was parked in an enclosed space. It does take a sequence of button presses on the remote to activate it so there’s no way of doing it accidentally either (as with the regular remote start itself). I’ve used this mode a few times in extremely cold weather. I imagine a similar feature could be available in the Volt, I don’t see why not.


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    Dec 13th, 2010 (12:53 pm)

    DonC: FWIW, even if some enterprising worker would figure out how to use a 240v outlet, your company would be crazy to offer it. The reason the charging station has to be hard wired to the wall is that it’s possible for a charge to remain on the male end even after charging is over.

    Mr. C, you seem pretty knowledgable on this charging at remote locations subject. Others can chime in if they know the answer. I put this question forward to my Volt advisor in an email so she could contact engineers but I haven’t heard back yet. The question is does the Volt have some internal protection, like a surge protector, at the electricity input point to protect the car from electrical surges like blackouts, power surges or any other power distribution anomalies?

    Thanks in advance


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    Dec 13th, 2010 (1:01 pm)

    dave: after reading the article and comments so far, I find myself still left with the question of whether the car is more efficient at recovering braking energy when in ‘L’. so clearly ‘L’ brings in more regenerative effect with foot off the brake, but doesn’t lightly pressing the brake pedal do the same thing?I guess specifically I’m wondering if that is true, or perhaps the designers found it necessary to have the mechanical brakes begin engaging immediately (simultaneous with the regenerative effect) in order to provide a smooth braking experience… anybody know definitive answer to this?    

    I remember in one of the posts a few months back one of the engineers was talking about what he termed “virtual braking” which meant that when you press the pedal it first engages the regen and it only engages the mechanical brakes if necessary for stopping, in order to maximize efficiency. He said it’s transparent to the driver, you won’t be able to tell when the mechanical brakes come on. I believe this can be done because the regen will “max out” after a certain point and the mechanical brakes will simply compensate for the difference between how much the driver wants to decelerate and how much the regen is able to decelerate. This way the mechanical brakes will more rarely be used and they will wear out much more slowly than in a conventional car.

    Frankly I believe putting it in L mode is equivalent to having the foot on the brake by a certain amount (lower than the amount needed for the mechanical brakes to come on), so you’ll be able to “brake” with the accelerator pedal if it’s not sufficiently pressed. I think this is really a user preference though, nothing to do with efficiency (just like Sport mode is). It is nicer to drive in traffic without having to constantly switch between the brake and the accelerator all the time.


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    James

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (1:13 pm)

    Nearly every morning I wake up, hit the on switch on the desktop or laptop and check Lyle’s mpg/AER results like they were stock reports. lol.

    I know how my Prius’ electronic gadgetry encouraged me to drive differently for efficiency and how it became a “video game”. So I eat up all this stuff about modes and techniques. Admittedly it’s a bit to much effort, but the Volt shows it’s advancements by letting the car adapt to them, rather than vice versa. In time I know driver-car interfaces will become more intuitive and advanced. I hope to see better steering wheels on Voltecs – not just the standard issue Cruze wheel that seems to be used in nearly all non-truck/SUV models. Volts are special and need a Volt-specific steering wheel with many of the functions that now are on the center stack.

    OT – but crucial in my mind. People , let’s have a holiday season less hectic and consumer based. In one sense I’ve seen bursting shopping malls in affluent Eastside Seattle areas and average shopper turnout in other areas as a sign the economy is rebounding. On the other hand, I see such waste and consumer-mania. Christmas is the winter solstice celebration time wherein many celebrate the coming of the Christ child, and others consider it mainly a time to brighten up the winter months with a family celebration. Consider the waste, the tons of pollution in the air, the wharehousefuls of oil-based plastics consumed and the sheer nonsense of folding to the mass-marketing of the season. It’s frenetic, stressful and it seems every year people are driving more crazily, more rushed, with more to do, more accidents on our roads – more people feeling the “duties” pressed upon them – to buy gifts for more and more family members, friends, coworkers, etc.

    Please lets make Christmas traditional, less expensive and more fun. Jesus didn’t come to this world, or for those of other faiths and traditions – the winter solstice season isn’t here for mass consumption of goods from China and a contest to see who can “perform” their holiday duties better or more extravagantly. We all must share with each other a responsibility to simplify. Every year I profess the next Christmas will be with the family making gifts by hand for one another, less lights on the house or miles to the mall or credit used online. Every year it seems to be about the same – costly, stressful and taking our lives in our hands being out on the roads jammed with stressed-out shoppers ( ever notice how many people forget to turn their headlights on this time of year?! ). Christmas need not be a RAT RACE – and the change starts at home.

    What is on topic is that Volt technology shows us we can have fun saving energy, re-learning skills we thought we had mastered, like driving from A to B. Reduce, re-use and simplify. In that mindset I think we can all learn something new and change bad or unproductive behaviours and on that note I wish you all a sincere and warm holiday from my heart. I wish you a time of closer family ties – meaningful interaction and a feast of memories!

    :) SANTA’S SLEIGH HAS A PLUG,

    James


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    Sonoma Richard

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (1:13 pm)

    Way off topic…I just had a call from Volt and they gave me my VIN number: 100324. It will ship in 17 days…WOW!!!


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    Dec 13th, 2010 (1:19 pm)

    From the article
    The mountain mode is rarely used. It acts to cause the range extender turn on at higher charge point of the battery. This allows a deeper battery reserve for use when travelling up a long steep grade. In nearly 2000 miles of driving I have never found the need to use it

    This makes sense. Along the East Coast, we really don’t have too many significant mountains to worry about. Traveling west in Maryland on I-70 and Mount Washington to name two.
    But try driving along I-75 in Colorado everyday, or just about anywhere out west, I think Mountain Mode would be used much more frequently. :)


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    Dec 13th, 2010 (1:27 pm)

    In reading the manual, I thought that Sport Mode and the shifter in “L” would be the best options, even if they cost a bit of AER.

    Sounds like I am getting the correct interpretation from the manual!!!

    I would still like to know if anyone will be buying snow tires for their Volt. If so, what size/type?


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    flmark

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (1:43 pm)

    Kup: OT: Perhaps I should post this to the forums but answers are pretty quick here, so here goes.As some of you know my employer is going to make standard electrical sockets available out in the parking lot to charge electric cars. They are planning on running one 110V and one 220V. This forum already told me that the standard Volt cord will not work on the 220V line. The question that my Director of Facilities asked me was whether the cord that will need to be purchased for the 220V will come with the standard 3 prong male plug or if there is another National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) standard for that end of the cord? This will help him determine what type of socket he will need to install for users of the 220V line.Thanks in advance for the answers that are sure to come.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    To any and all business owners considering this, there are two different approaches. Anyone who reads my posts knows that I have repeatedly discussed demand billing for businesses. Installation of level 2 chargers runs a real risk of excessive billing. Therefore-

    1) If you are installing this for EMPLOYEES, this is a no brainer. It is much better to add many boxes of 110 vs a few boxes of 220. This will be cost effective from an installation standpoint as well as providing much cheaper billing. Additionally, the typical 8 hour shift of an employee will provide an opportunity to (mostly) restore the battery to the condition that the employee showed up for work with (after a reasonable commute).

    2) If you are installing this for CUSTOMERS, the choice is much more complicated, but probably defaults to level 2 charging. Yes, you are going to get higher electric bills, but you must have accepted this if you wanted your customers to appreciate the charging. It is unlikely that level 1 charging will accomplish much for a customer during the average visit of a transaction.


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    Dec 13th, 2010 (2:33 pm)

    Rashiid Amul: Along the East Coast, we really don’t have too many significant mountains to worry about.

    You must mean East or South of The Appalachian Mountains. :)

    NPNS!


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    Dec 13th, 2010 (2:53 pm)

    bookdabook: The question is does the Volt have some internal protection, like a surge protector, at the electricity input point to protect the car from electrical surges like blackouts, power surges or any other power distribution anomalies?

    I don’t know but you have to assume the answer is yes. The J1772 specification makes provision for someone simply yanking the cord out, which would be similar to the blackout you’re asking about. As much as GM is babying the battery it would be amazing if this possibility wasn’t covered.

    Keep in mind that for 120V and 240V charging the charger is part of the car. Sometimes people refer to the wall unit which supplies 240 as “the charger” but this is incorrect — the station simply delivers the juice and tells the car how much juice it can deliver. The charger and all of its smarts are part of the car.

    DC charging is different. For DC charging the connection goes directly to the battery so the smarts have to be in the Level 3 charger. The car plays no role. This may be one reason the Volt doesn’t support DC charging — fear of some failure on the part of third party electronics injuring the battery.


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    Dec 13th, 2010 (2:56 pm)

    flmark: If you are installing this for CUSTOMERS, the choice is much more complicated, but probably defaults to level 2 charging. Yes, you are going to get higher electric bills, but you must have accepted this if you wanted your customers to appreciate the charging.

    I agree with everything else you’ve said, but customers will value the parking spot more than the charging so 120V charging should work fine.


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    Dec 13th, 2010 (3:17 pm)

    Rashiid Amul: …Along the East Coast, we really don’t have too many significant mountains to worry about. Traveling west in Maryland on I-70 and Mount Washington to name two. But try driving along I-75 in Colorado everyday, or just about anywhere out west, I think Mountain Mode would be used much more frequently.     

    Maybe not! I was surprised to read this today from the introduction of “Mountain Directory.”

    http://www.mountaindirectory.com/introduction.html

    “A large percentage of the grades in the western states are in the 6% range. A large percentage of the grades in the eastern states are 8, 9, or 10% and sometimes even more. The eastern grades are often shorter but this is not always so. A quick glance through the eastern book will reveal over 50 grades that are between 7 and 10% and from 4 to 7 miles long. There are others that are even more challenging. The road to the top of Whiteface Mountain in New York is 8 to 10% for 8 miles. There would be no need for truckers to use this road but RVs are allowed. Near Cumberland, Maryland there is a hill on I-68 that is posted as 6% for 13 miles. In North Carolina highway 181 crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway and the southbound descent is 11 miles of grade that varies from 6 to 10%. Much of it is 8 to 9%. These grades are just as hazardous as the grades in the western states.”


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    Dec 13th, 2010 (3:17 pm)

    DonC: I agree with everything else you’ve said, but customers will value the parking spot more than the charging so 120V charging should work fine.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    Well, I’ve beaten the demand billing issue to death. We own a business and I have worked hard to get off demand billing. As for us, level 2 is not in the cards unless FL’s tariff system changes. I agree that most early adopters will appreciate ANYTHING to accommodate their EVs. My suggestion was meant to engage business owners who want to use the charging station to actually attract (new) customers.


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    Dec 13th, 2010 (3:38 pm)

    bookdabook: DonC: FWIW, even if some enterprising worker would figure out how to use a 240v outlet, your company would be crazy to offer it. The reason the charging station has to be hard wired to the wall is that it’s possible for a charge to remain on the male end even after charging is over.

    Pretty much every Tesla driver has created a bag of adapters to enable plugging into any one of the dizzying array of 220/240V outlets available. All it takes is the proper male and female plugs on a short extension cord. The only question is what amperage would the Volt default to.

    I would go with the 20A 240V outlet that looks just like the standard 120V with one prong twisted 90 degrees. These plugs seem to give rise to much less paranoia amongst the general public.

    I have no idea what “it’s possible for a charge to remain on the male end even after charging is over” means. The male end is either plugged in or unplugged and dead.


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    Dec 13th, 2010 (4:10 pm)

    Mark Z: “A large percentage of the grades in the western states are in the 6% range. A large percentage of the grades in the eastern states are 8, 9, or 10% and sometimes even more. The eastern grades are often shorter but this is not always so. A quick glance through the eastern book will reveal over 50 grades that are between 7 and 10% and from 4 to 7 miles long. There are others that are even more challenging. The road to the top of Whiteface Mountain in New York is 8 to 10% for 8 miles. There would be no need for truckers to use this road but RVs are allowed. Near Cumberland, Maryland there is a hill on I-68 that is posted as 6% for 13 miles. In North Carolina highway 181 crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway and the southbound descent is 11 miles of grade that varies from 6 to 10%. Much of it is 8 to 9%. These grades are just as hazardous as the grades in the western states.”

    Sounds like Lyle needs to take a road trip to Highpoint State Park NJ with the CAB Volt. :)
    http://www.nynjtc.org/park/high-point-state-park?gclid=CLGOkoqR6qUCFYHc4Aodszg01Q

    NPNS!


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    Dec 13th, 2010 (4:28 pm)

    storm:
    Pretty much every Tesla driver has created a bag of adapters to enable plugging into any one of the dizzying array of 220/240V outlets available. All it takes is the proper male and female plugs on a short extension cord. The only question is what amperage would the Volt default to.
    I would go with the 20A 240V outlet that looks just like the standard 120V with one prong twisted 90 degrees. These plugs seem to give rise to much less paranoia amongst the general public.I have no idea what “it’s possible for a charge to remain on the male end even after charging is over” means. The male end is either plugged in or unplugged and dead.    

    A very dangerous proposition.

    -220v are not usually GFCI protected.

    -Outlets such as those used on a clothes dryer are not designed to plug/unplug repeatedly. Not having a neutral on some of these is also problematic.

    -It probably won’t even energize the J-standard connector. (Teslas were built before the standard emerged.)

    -There is usually not an easy disconnect (to cut the power) near a 220v outlet meant for a dryer or a/c unit, which means you’re plugging it in ‘hot’.

    I think what they’re is saying is that a 220v extension cord would be energized at the end laying on the ground.

    As far as I can tell, the NEC specifically dis-allows 220v extension cords in the US. One end or the other needs to be hardwired. Twist-lock might be allowed for temporary connections (such as an emergency generator).


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    Bungoman

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    Dec 13th, 2010 (7:44 pm)

    Loboc: This pretty much makes my point. The Volt was designed to be a normal car, not something that has to be manually ‘tweaked’. Having it emulate a Prius function is totally out of character.

    The car can tweak itself depending on other driver inputs and it’s own systems (GPS). There is no need for a mode switch.

    Once you pick your preferred ‘mode’, you won’t change it for 10 years anyway. The car should just do it for you.

    To me, this is just extra gadgetry that is not necessary. Targeting a geeky demographic will limit sales by eliminating more normal folk.

    OK, now you are just being plain silly. As it has been pointed out to you, mode switches have been on many “normal” cars for many many years. How is this any different? And how will this “eliminate normal folk” from the demographic? Seriously, you gotta either come up with some really good stuff or just be a man and admit you were being silly and be better for it.


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    Dec 14th, 2010 (1:30 am)

    I sure would have loved to drive the Volt on some of our hills. There is one half mile long in particular that if you don’t ride the brakes you’ll be going 100 MPH at the bottom. The problems are, the speed limit is 30 MPH, there is a moderately sharp tun near the bottom, and a stop light at the bottom that seems to always be red when you get there.

    This is a perfect case for an easy to access heavy regenerative braking system. When I test drove the Volt during that tour they wouldn’t let me take it to my favorite hill to try it out (just a quick trip around the shopping area). The procedure to get into the heavy regen sounded complex and not quick to access.

    My perfect EV has a knob on top of the shifter. When I hit my favorite hill all I have to do is take my foot off the pedal and turn up the regen knob. When I want to slow down turn the knob more, speed up back it off. No brakes used until I hit the red light, maximum possible energy recovery is achieved. Always ready to use with a quick turn of the wrist. That seems to be to complicated for these engineers to figure out! The math for the control program is only 1 line of computer code long.


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    Dec 14th, 2010 (5:53 am)

    Randy C.: …Always ready to use (regeneration) with a quick turn of the wrist.

    One of the two Volt test drives I’ve done was in NYC’s Pier 92 parking garage, which included a steep down ramp from the top level to the lower levels. One flick of my wrist was all it took to drop the car from “D” into “L”, which felt much like dropping a manual-transmission V8 into Low. It really “hauled” the car down —enough so that no brakes were needed on these steep down ramps.

    (Of course, braking & using “L” at the same time adds appreciably MORE regen, enough that I would guess most people in the US would seldom ever need pads or rotors replaced.)


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    Dec 26th, 2010 (2:31 pm)

    Reader’s new year will be brighter with this idea!


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    nie-mehr-benzin.de

     

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    Dec 27th, 2010 (5:48 am)

    Lyle,

    did you ever check Volt’s MPG in Extended-Range-Mode only with E85 ?