Friday, July 22, 2011

Plates Arrive!

It only took 2 months but today they finally arrived. I had to remind myself I got the car on May 20th because at first the "MAY" month sticker surprised me. And just over 1200 miles in those two months... I need to do more driving!

When is a Headrest not a Headrest?

When it is a head restraint! Any fool should know that, but apparently I am not just any fool.

I was asking my Volt Adviser how to get my rear seat headrests off for those times when I might want to fold down the rear seat backs for extra cargo space. I could not get them to come off and we keep the front seats so far back that the rear seats won't fold down. Since I normally want to be able to carry two people in back, I don't want to leave the headrests off all the time, but want to be able to pop them off quickly as necessary. I tried using the search feature of my PDF owner's manual, but got nowhere. That's because I was too braindead to think of alternative names for those little things. My Volt Adviser was patient and walked me through it, and I now can do this little chore on my own without any help. I even went back to the owner's manual and found the information I knew had to be there. All you have to do is look for Head Restraint Removal and Reinstallation. Key part being "Head Restraint", not "headrest" or "head rest".  D'oh!

Here's what it looks like in the manual:

And here's a photo of my car that makes it even clearer:

You can see a secret button on the left side that needs to be depressed the same way as the easily visible button on the right in order for the "head restraint" to pop off. Easy when you know how.

While out there taking pix for this, thought I would mention the cargo net accessory. I don't like where GM thinks it should go because it gets in my way. I have moved it to the front of the cargo bay, farthest away from the hatch. It isn't really designed to go here, but works just fine this way. I latch the side clips to the seat back to keep it from swaying.

Yes, I have the seat barrier and the window shade accessories too, all included in the car's invoice. I don't think I would have paid GM's prices for them if they had not already been on the sticker, but they are very useful.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics

Every month now I will get these reports from OnStar automatically. I can also get one on demand, if I want to. Here is some of the information from the report.

That's only a part of the report. And then there are links that you can click to drill down deeper, but this is just a screen shot so none of them work here. Get your own Volt and Diagnostic Report if ya wanna see the links. ;-)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Volt Myths Debunked!

Read an interesting article this morning called "Top 10 Myths About The Chevrolet Volt – Debunked!" by Alex Luft. Of course, I had to comment:

Interesting mix of comments to a nicely done article. I’m a Volt owner, as well as a GM enthusiast going way back. Naturally I’m going to defend my decision to go with a Volt. I could have gotten a Leaf, as the range is within my commute. But I get all the Leaf’s advantages and still get a car that can go to Vegas or Portland (from Los Angeles) whenever I want without worry. And it’s every bit a real car. You can’t say a word against its cred as a real car until you’ve driven it. Then, if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. Nothing wrong with having a preference. But I bet you will like it because it’s a nice mix of sporty and comfortable. The fit and finish are really excellent, quite comparable to the STS and DTS Cadillacs I had before this car. Mine is fully loaded and it feels every bit worth the $41K price tag even without all the advantages of the Voltec powertrain. But I bought it for the Voltec, make no mistake. I’m a computer guy and a car enthusiast, and this car combines the two interests in a very elegant way. Simple enough for a housewife to operate and geeky enough for Linuxheads.

I do have to comment on the guy who got upset over the question, “compared to what?” That guy said GM just lost his business… over a question posed by a person who is not a GM employee and is not financially affiliated with GM in any way I know of. How do you get through life buddy? People must offend you every five seconds! More importantly, the question explained itself a few words later in the sentence by illustrating there is no direct comparison possible with any other car since there is no other car with this type of system. (The closest I can think of are diesel/electric trains, except I don’t think they have storage batteries.) So the question is semi-legitimate. But, the author of the article must know the comparison is going to be made between the Volt and other vehicles that are not in exactly the save category so perhaps he could have phrased it differently.

Oh yes, I had a great dealer (Bunnin Chevrolet) who was extremely exceptional to work with. I also visited one dealer who wanted $5K over MSRP. I reported him to my Volt Adviser. I opted for the lease because in three years technology will have advanced quite a bit and I’m going to want to have the latest GM has to offer.

I also have extremely low EV electric rates due to LADWP incentives and a Level 2 charger on a Time-Of-Use meter. It costs me about $6 per month[*] to drive my 32 mile round trip commute. No gas required except on weekends when I go visit relatives in Redlands.

;-) (Link to actual comment page)

* I had not actually seen the electric bill for charging at this point, so it was a guess based on the base TOU advertised rate. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

The TOU meter came in and a guy from DWP called this morning to see if he could put it in. I gave him permission, of course. It's cool because it flips through information sequentially, so you can read what you're run up in each rate.

They thoughtfully put a sticker on the side so I can tell what I'm reading. So far all zeros except for the date and time displays.

Meanwhile, over at the charger, the display there also shifts between the car/owner identifier and the charge state. The cord would look much nicer in the Corvette Orange that the Chevy charger cord comes in. :-)

Thursday, July 7, 2011


This morning, the doorbell rang and two handsome men from LADWP were standing there, wanting to hook up the electric power to our level 2 charger! Now the fun part is, they said the meter itself had not even been ordered yet and it would be 5 to 7 days until that came in. But the plan is to hook up the wires to the overhead line and put bars across the terminals of the meter box. This will effectively give me free juice to the charger until they put the meter in.

Tonight when we got home, the charger was ready to go as soon as I flipped the breakers on. I had to go onto LADWPs web site to determine the rate times to go by so I could set my charge times in the car. Here's the deal:

From 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM M-F is a Mid Peak range.
From 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM M-F is the High Peak time.
From 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM M-F is another Mid Peak range.

All other times are "Base", or the lowest rate. On top of the base rate, there is a discount for EV use.

Currently my Tier 1 rate is 0.07020 per kWh, while Tier 2 is 0.08520. So far I stay out of Tier 3. (Until August!)

Time-Of-Use rate during the Base period is 0.04655 per kWh from June to Sept and 0.05045 from Oct to May. On top of that, EV charging gets a discount of -0.02500 per kWh. That means my EV Base rate is 0.02155 from June to Sept and .028900 from Oct to May.

BUT... There are things called "Energy Cost Adjustment" and "Electric Subsidy Adjustment" that raise that rate substantially higher. Still, it's much lower than the regular Tier 1 rate, which is also subject to those "Adjustments". Until I see an electric bill over a span of a couple of months, I won't really know for sure, but it will probably be about $0.75 a day to charge up.

I have not had a way to measure yet but folks on the web site say it takes about 12 kWh to charge a fully depleted battery.

UPDATE: I logged into my ChargePoint account this morning (7/8/11) and I used 9.808 kWh last night to charge.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thinkin Miles...

So I'm thinking the other day, it's about 1-1/2 months I've had the Volt now. I have less than 900 miles on the ODO, and some of those miles were from the dealer driving the car to deliver it. If I'm supposed to get 12,000 miles per year on my lease, I can be putting 1,000 miles per month on the car, right? I'm not great at math but I think I can figure out that I've been very conservative with putting mileage on the car. I'm not going to get a refund for any unused miles, so I will need to do some more driving to use the miles I'm paying for. So in two weeks time, I can see I'll need to put 1,100 miles on this baby girl to catch up.

Road trip!

Friday, July 1, 2011

LADWP - Again

Now is a good time to practice my patience and lessons in anger management. Things happen in our lives that we can't control and there is little point in getting all upset about them to the point that they ruin a perfectly good upcoming three-day weekend.

Juno, the EV rep at DWP had asked me to call him this Friday if the service had not been connected by then. So this morning I called... got no answer but left a voice message. I also dropped him a quick email, figuring I'd try to reach him from both angles. I got a call a bit later from Walter Smith, who I hear is Juno's boss, explaining that the job had been released and sent over to the guys that do the actual setting of the meter and splicing the wires on the 24th of June. Now keep in mind, Juno (and the DWP web site) indicated it would be 5 to 10 days from that date to being live. And Walter did not say mention in his call back to me (which I didn't get live, I got it as a voice message) that anything was different. But he did say that it was now handed off to this other department and he gave me their phone number along with all the information I'd need to get an answer from them as to when it will be connected.

So I called today - twice. The first time, I got a messaging system and realized it was the lunch hour. I did not leave a message but I called back after 1 PM. This time I got a nice lady who told me they had received it on the 24th, and it was handed off to "the crew" on the 27th and that it was *not* scheduled for today but would be completed from 7 to 15 work days, no weekends or holidays included, from the date of receipt, which was the 24th. She told me the schedule is made up daily, not in advance, so she can not tell me what day it will happen, other than the 7-15 day range. I thanked her and then hung up.


So it could take up until July 15th for this to go live. Then again, who's to say it couldn't take longer?

Oh well. Here's a fun video I found today: