Friday, December 21, 2012

Message from my Volt Advisor

Chevy Volt
Dear Volt Owner,

I'm excited to let you know the Chevrolet Volt was recently rated #1 in customer satisfaction for the second straight year! In fact, of all vehicle owners, Volt owners were the most likely to purchase their vehicle again. There is no greater compliment than to have our owners rate Volt the highest of all makes and models on the market.

Thank you for your support.

Wishing you a very Happy Holiday!

Your Volt Advisor

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Road Trip

Off to Redlands and back for the 2012 Christmas get together.


162.6 Total miles, 2.84 gallons used, and 41.3 electric miles out of the total. Not bad getting 57.2 MPG, eh? No complaints here.

December OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report



Friday, November 30, 2012

Stale Gas

A few days ago, my Volt popped up a message when I turned it on... I thought it was just the usual monthly message saying that it needed to run the gas engine a bit to keep it maintained. I pressed the Yes button without giving it much thought. But then a second message appeared and I realized whatever the first message had said, it wasn't what I thought and I should have paid closer attention. Anyway, the second message told me that I had not been using much gas and that the fuel in my tank was getting stale. It said my car would now run on gas and when the tank got to under one-half full, I should fill it and the the car would return to normal operation.

So I went for a little drive yesterday and since the goal was to burn some stale fuel, I put it in Sport mode and Low, and headed up some hills, driving a bit more aggressively than I usually do. I had already used nearly half a tank when I started so pretty soon I had one bar under the halfway mark and figured that was good enough. I went to the Shell station on Hollywood Way that I like.

It only took 4.455 gallons at $3.979 per, for a total of $17.73. Not bad. A man pulled in and was fueling his Toyota Tacoma truck and asked me about her. He liked the car's looks and asked how often I fill up. I told him and mentioned the only reason I was filling today was due to the stale gas message. He smiled and said now I was just showing off. I chuckled and said I was just a bit. But assured him that really was the case.

Fun stuff.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rise In Interest?

The last few days I have seen more Volts on the road... yesterday I saw three at various locations... and at a stop light, one guy driving a Versa wanted to know what the average mileage was. I told him I didn't know but had only filled the tank once in a year and a half and he was thrilled. He said he wants one badly. Then this morning a lady walking her kids asked me if I loved my car and of course, I told her I did. She said she was so jealous and wanted one badly! Seems like interest and enthusiasm is really picking up.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Are EVs Better In Emergencies?

Got this from Green Car Reports:

Friend of GreenCarReports, BMW ActiveE owner Tom Moloughney, is one of those still able to travel to work in New Jersey every day.
In fact, it's almost business as usual for him, reportsThe New York Times.
Between charging at home--using a natural gas generator since the power went out--and charging at his restaurant, Moloughney hasn't experienced any problems on his 100-mile round trip each day.
And Moloughney isn't the only electric car driver avoiding the chaos--those using the three free chargers at his restaurant are likely getting by okay too.

Friday, November 2, 2012

October Plug-In Sales Stay Strong

According to Green Car Reports, Chevy sold 2,961 Volts in October, the highest-ever single-month sales total. Sweet!

They say that overall, sales reports for October have put plug-in sales on a strong track to reach 35,000 to 40,000 sales for the year. That's more than double the roughly 17,500 sold last year.

Slow and steady. As more people realize the benefits, the sales add up.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Redlands Trip

Used two and a half gallons of gas and got a bit better than 60 MPG for the 150-ish mile drive. I forgot to snap a pic to give me exact numbers, and now that I've charged the car, that info is lost... or at least I don't know where to get it once the display has reset.

On the way to Redlands, I put the car in Mountain mode when I got around 15 miles of range on the battery. That way I could drive around Redlands on battery instead of in extended range mode. On the way home I just left it in Normal mode the whole way.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Gasoline

"The price of gasoline hit an all-time average high in California of $4.6140 a gallon Saturday, fueled by a reduced supply and a volatile market."

"The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded across California was 47 cents more than a week ago, according to the AAA report."

While I've actually seen a few wild prices in isolated areas reaching as high as $5.99.99, the average is still pretty high. Am I a bad person for shaking my head at outraged people and thinking... "Why didn't you take the warnings and the upward trends we've seen for years seriously?"

I understand the price of electric or hybrid cars is high right now, so the folks who are fuming at the pump... many of them could rightly say they can't really afford anything else. (Though the latest Nissan Leaf lease prices are only $219/mo and Volts can be had for not much more.) But I see a lot of big SUV drivers, 4X4 drivers (which in most of SoCal is just plain unnecessary) and, more importantly, I see people driving in very uneconomical ways. Hot rodding around and jack rabbiting from stops, driving upwards of 80+ miles per hour on freeways... I wonder if those are a big majority of the "fuming motorists paying $5 or more per gallon in some locations" as the Chron.com article I'm quoting from says.

It's hard for me to have too much sympathy for the guy crying at the pump with his Hummer or Expedition. And when I see people slingshot past me from a stop or fly past me on the freeway, I think they must just have money to burn, literally. Even the guy in the Prius doing over 80 just doesn't get it. And apparently doesn't care.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

September EV Sales Figures

According to chargedevs.com, it looks like Chevy sold 2,851 Volts last month, a bit of improvement over August’s all time record of 2,831. That makes a year-to-date total of 16,348. They say the Volt’s Hamtramck assembly line will remain idle until October 15th. 

Nice!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

4G

This looks kinda interesting. A 4G data connection and apps in your Volt. I still think it's redundant to put all the electronics and radio/Internet into the car when you could just provide an interface to existing smart phones and tablets. (Customers who don't already have one could be offered one with the car.) But still kinda cool.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Brother Rick's Getting Free Electrons

Got this message from Bob's brother Rick, enjoying his new Volt:

Sitting at the Gee Creek rest stop fueling up with free electricity.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Broke the Four Figure Barrier

Today my odometer went past four figures and ended up at 10003. It seems like I don't drive the car all that much so it has taken awhile. I'm in no danger of exceeding my 12000 mile per year limit at least.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Brother Rick's New Volt!

I got a picture on Sept 10th:


And a movie today. I think he likes it! 

video

Also, notice his display shows KWH used where mine shows miles driven, per charge.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Updates to Charging Resources

SPX has updated their page. I don't know if this means they are no longer the preferred vendor for Volt home charging solutions or not. But the page and link changed so I've updated it.
https://homecharging.spx.com/portal/
https://homecharging.spx.com/volt/Home.aspx?l=1 

Also note the Nissan charger that is a modified factory unit so it will charge at 240 volts is still available here:
http://evseupgrade.com/styled/
You'll want to order the one at the bottom of the page, a brand new unit that they upgrade and send to you.

Heck, even Home Depot and Amazon have a selection of wall-mounted chargers these days, but I don't know if any rebates or programs apply to them.

I've also added a link to Clipper Creek and they make wall mounted and (semi) portable units. Note that the "portables" are manufactured with leads intended to be hard-wired but many people are adding an appropriate dryer plug to make them portable.
http://www.clippercreek.com/

And don't forget your Volt Adviser if you have questions on how to get home charging set up!




New Volt in the Family?

Looks like Bob's brother Rick has traded in his Malibu on a 2012 Volt! I haven't seen pictures yet but I hear it's red with black leather... a nice familiar color scheme. :-) Rumor is he took delivery yesterday and I'm waiting to hear all the details. We're both pretty excited that someone else in the family has gone electric!

Detail to follow... I hope!

Chevrolet Volt Drive Simulation

The Quintek Group created this animation and posted it on YouTube last year. I just came across it again so thought I'd share.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Google+ Discussion on ELR/Volt

I've been participating in some discussion regarding the possible engine/battery systems in the forthcoming Cadillac ELR.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/101473639512798006214/posts/2SrwRbUS3UG

My feeling is a smaller engine for the range extender will do, but there is a good case for a larger one.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

August OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report

Mileage: 9638

Electric Miles: 573
Gas Miles: 1 (actually less than a mile)
Total Miles: 573


Percentage on Electric: 100 % (99.999999999999-ish)


Oil life: 82%


Electric Consumption:  29 kW-hr/100 miles (according to GM, but I see no proof of this.)


The issue with the charge door thinking it is open when it really is closed is happening more often. I still rap on the door a few times when I close it, but that doesn't always do it. And sometimes it does it at first, and then later I will hear the chime and see the message that the charge door is open. I'm sure it's a simple fix, but I don't think it needs a special trip to the dealer when I can just dismiss the message. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Change in Commute

Since I am barely putting 8000 miles a year on my car these days, it seems like I'm not going to have any problem staying within the 12000 mile annual allowance on my lease. But if ever that was in doubt, I can breathe easy as I am going to be reducing my driving even further. I am now scheduled to telecommute 2 days a week so that's about 64 miles less per week. That means unless I start taking some trips, I won't even drive 5000 miles per year. Man, that's leaving a lot of miles on the table. I better start doing some serious pleasure driving.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Paying Attention to MPG

Topic of MPG on G+ and how much people pay attention to advertised mileage. 

My feeling is that people do pay attention, but only to a point and they often carry a wrong impression with them, which I think is the advertiser's intent. Toyota has a good rep as a high-MPG car company because of the Prius. So, people who don't want a Prius, but feel they need an SUV instead will still go to Toyota because in their mind, Toyota has vehicles with great gas mileage. And they'll buy a 14 MPG monster but still think they are being green because it is a Toyota. But back when our family owned a full-size Cadillac Escalade 6.0 litre 4x4 complete with front and rear air conditioning (I won't get into the argument of why such a vehicle was "needed" in our household) it consistently got 22 MPG measured in real life and yet folks we knew certainly never thought of it as being greener than any Toyota. Quite the opposite! Now I drive this Volt which beats the pants off of any current Toyota, plug-in or otherwise... but Prius drivers (and yes, even drivers of other Toyota models) around me still turn up their noses. Why is that? 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

July OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report

Mileage: 9065

Electric Miles: 556
Gas Miles: 0
Total Miles: 556


Percentage on Electric: 100 %


Oil life: Still at 83%


Electric Consumption:  29 kW-hr/100 miles (according to GM, but I see no proof of this.)


I have never gotten the service paperwork for my last time in at Community Chevrolet. I have the estimate paper, so it at least tells me the date I was in. I glanced at it the other day and it may be that the air bag inspection already got done. Maybe the tire rotation too. I am now seeing the occasional issue with the charge door thinking it is open  when it really is closed, unless I tap on the door a few times when I close it, so I might need to get that addressed soon. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Charged: Volt remains best-selling plug-in!

At least according to an article in Charged EV Magazine. They say it was the top-selling plug-in vehicle in the US in June, with sales of 1,760 cars for the month. As I can tell from the number of Volt's I've been spotting around my area, there are definitely a lot more of them on the road these days. Unfortunately the Leaf only sold 535 for the month. I do see those around town too, but I never think to post those spottings for some reason. I have never driven a Leaf, so I don't know how they compare. But I love my Volt and I think a lot of people realize having the gas generator is a great asset if you are not yet sure of finding working chargers out and about. Having unlimited total range makes a lot of people more comfortable in taking the plunge. And if they end up using it mostly on battery, as many do, they come to be more familiar with what range they really need and less worried about range in general. So maybe the Volt is like an EV with training wheels??? :D

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Volt Sighting!

Again! This might actually have been one I saw before. Black, in need of a wash and with plates on it. Buena Vista heading south just below Magnolia.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Volt Sighting!

Wow! This has been an amazing month for seeing other Volt drivers. The one I saw today was on Buena Vista at the corner of Burbank Blvd, pointed south and turning west onto Burbank. It was silver and had no front plate holder, so may have been out of state or new... couldn't tell. He was right behind me when I turned onto Burbank myself and he stayed there for a couple of blocks before a pickup got between us. By the time I got to Hollywood Way, he had apparently turned off. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Volt Sighting!

Coming home on the 134 freeway tonight from work, I spied a new white Volt coming up behind me on the stretch coming west after downtown Glendale around Pacific, just before going under the 5 freeway. Brand new with no plates yet. The guy driving was young and slim, looked like darker skin but couldn't tell exactly. Sweet!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report


Mileage: 8509

Electric Miles: 610
Gas Miles: 0
Total Miles: 610


Percentage on Electric: 100 %


Oil life: Still at 83%


Electric Consumption:  29 kW-hr/100 miles (according to GM, but I see no proof of this.)


Tire rotation past due and I still have the air bag inspection to get done. With Bob's BMW being subject to a hit and run on the street a few weeks ago and a lot of appointments and stuff, just have not gotten these done. Oh well!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Volt Sighting!

Silver Volt heading north about 9:15am or so on Los Robles Ave in Pasadena between East Union and East Walnut. (Near the Westin and California Pizza Kitchen.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Volt Sighting!

Saw a brand new black Volt coming south on Buena Vista at Verdugo in Burbank coming home tonight at around a quarter after six. :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Encouraging Sign in EV Sales

According to Green Car Reports, there are approximately 30,000 plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads now, which is four or five times as many as there were a year ago. That seems pretty amazing to me, considering how much negativity has been spewed against such cars from the right.

GCR predicts the Volt, Leaf, and Prius Plug-In will continue to be the top sellers among plug-in electric cars, with 2012 Tesla Model S deliveries starting this month as well.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

Back on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, I was on the phone, emailing and working the dealer web site for Bunnin Chevrolet to get the lease on my Volt finalized. Later that evening, I saw my red beauty for the first time. What a great year it's been! I hope the fun I've been having stays fresh over the next two coming years, though I confess I am very anxiously following developments and hints of what new stuff comes out for GM and all the car makers in the EV and EREV field. The car is as awesome as it was the first day and has had no problems to deal with. Minimal servicing and some enhancements were made, and I am finally ready for a tire rotation. I just rolled over the 8000 mile mark a day or so ago.

Bob is still enjoying his first months of driving his BMW ActiveE but with his two-year lease he will still turn his car in before I turn in my Volt. (Assuming I do. He has no choice as it is closed-end.)



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Volt Sighting...

Again! Bright cobalt blue one on Victory Blvd just east of Hollywood Way.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report





Mileage: 7899

Electric Miles: 634
Gas Miles: 4
Total Miles: 638


Percentage on Electric: 99 %


Oil life: Still at 83%


Electric Consumption:  31 kW-hr/100 miles (But I have no reason to believe this figure.)


Tire rotation is now past due and I also have the air bag inspection to get done. But it's been a busy month and I've not felt like taking the time. I'll work on that this month.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Used Some Gas

Had to go over to Sunset again and the traffic was nasty. Took me 45 minutes to go 2.5 miles, but then it lightened up for the rest of the 8 mile trip. Even though I was using minimal power sitting there, creeping forward, some still got used. Then I had to go to Glendale and then on to Pasadena. And so at the end of the day, it was 38 miles round trip but the creeping along for nearly an hour cost me. I had to run 4.2 miles of the drive home with the range extender, using what registered as 0.1 gallons of petrol. I am always a little embarrassed to have people around me hear the engine running on this car, but the fact is it's doing its job of making this the nearly perfect EV that won't leave you stranded if you need to go farther. I love it, but still wish I had just 10 more miles of battery range. I'm still at only 8.2 gallons of gas used for the year.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Volt Sighting!

I was leaving the parking structure at Kaiser on Sunset when a lady in a white Volt was driving in. She gave me a thumbs up and I waved and grinned at her. You meet the nicest people in a Volt! :-)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Got this neat tip off a fellow on Google+

https://www.onstar.com/web/portal/odm

In the event you try to send an address to your +OnStar equipped vehicle from+Google Maps mobile or web app and find it doesn't work. 
It turns out the Invalid destination name. error you received is a known OnStar bug limitation where destinations sent to your car are saved to your OnStar profile and is limited to 5 addresses. 

To fix go to https://www.onstar.com/web/portal/odm and remove all previously saved addresses.

See also: http://support.google.com/maps/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=75505

Charging Issues

One evening last week... maybe Tuesday or Wednesday, I got a message on my phone that the charger had stopped the charge cycle due to the car trying to draw too much current. I noted the time was around 7:30 PM, which was before the car should have been charging anyway! I went out and reset the charger, unplugged and replugged the car, and it started charging immediately. Odd, since it was still before the 8:00 PM scheduled start time. But I let it ride. Then I think it was yesterday that I got a notification that the car was done charging... at 3:15 PM when it definitely should not have been charging. What the heck?

So I went out to the car last evening and found that the car thought it should start at 6:50 PM for some reason. I tried switching the schedules around, going to charge as soon as I plug in, to charge at low peak and off peak, back to off peak only, then switching the peak schedule around, summer/winter dates, almost every part of the schedule. Finally, I'm not sure how, but it got itself back to starting at 8:00 PM again. Will have to see if it sticks. Since I need to schedule service for it soon anyway, I will mention it to them.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Recall...

Got a letter from GM/Chevrolet today saying they've found cases where the driver airbag isn't properly secured and may make noise, though the bag remains fully functional. They want me to make an appointment to bring the car in for service. Gee, guess that means I get to try out Enterprize's new attitude on rental cars. Yay! (not)

[I forgot that this service had already been done when I had the battery enhancement done.]

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report

This arrived in my In Box yesterday. GM has *still* not implemented the energy efficiency stuff too well.


Mileage: 7261

Electric Miles: 683
Gas Miles: 20
Total Miles: 703


Percentage on Electric: 97 %


Oil life: Still at 83%


Electric Consumption:  -- kW-hr/100 miles (Not listed this month, for some reason.)


Tire rotation is still due at 7500 miles. Getting close!

New Volt "Favorite Feature" Ads

I want to see a "favorite feature" where I leave work in my Volt, drive by a gas station with a line of cars out into the street, waiting to get access to the gas pumps, and me driving past them, maybe taking some curves with road-hugging ease on my way home, just to let the BMW/Infinity crowd know this is no Cruze, and eventually pulling up into my driveway, plugging in to my charger and walking into the house to be with my family. Why doesn't GM make *that* commercial?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

NYT Editorial

Interesting editorial in the NY Times yesterday:


By JOE NOCERA (NYT)
G.M.’s innovative hybrid has become quite the political lightning rod.


Loved this comment from a Volt driver at the end of the article:
rgvd from Los Angeles
We leased a Volt. It is $415 per month including tax plus 1000 down for 3 years. My wife's last car was a Camry Hybrid $421 per month. The Volt is TWICE the car. Drives like a BMW. Hugs a mountain road.. Silent instant torque. Quality build. Amazing!! about $1 per day to go 43 miles. 40 miles per gallon after that and the same all electric power and drive Plugs into a wall socket. My only complaint is that it's a little small just like a BMW 3 series. We have leased new BMW 5 series 3 times in the last 15 years. The VOLT is as good in every way but it's much less expensive. Very little air pollution. I feel so sorry for for other people who drive comparably priced cars. They are giving $3,000 a year to the guys who run oil companies for no reason. This car is the real thing. The people at GM did an incredible job. Try driving one before you judge it. You won't be sorry.

And this one who switched from Mercedes:
Richard from San Jose, ca
I traded a Mercedes in on my Volt 15,000 miles ago. The car saves me $125 a month in gas and is much more fun to drive than the Mercedes. I also got $7500 off my 2011 taxes.
My volt is cheaper to own, cheaper to operate and much more fun. What's not to like?

And another...
Jim S from Quakertown, PA
Have any of these "naysayers" seen a Volt or heaven forbid driven one? Probably not. It is so much easier for them to judge the Volt from a distance with false statements and half truths.
I purchased (actually leased) my Volt last Saturday, and I am very impressed with its fit, finish, appearance and engineering. I am not wealthy or well off by any means ( I am one of those 99% that lives paycheck to paycheck); so claims the Volt are a "plaything" for the wealthy at the expense of the Federal Government does not apply here.
Based on my commute and driving habits I saved $50 this past week in gas alone; I also saw my insurance rate go down versus my previous vehicle (a 2008 Buick). My lease payment is lower than my old payment, my insurance is lower, and saving $50 week for gas is a major savings.
I have used 3.5 gallons of gas while driving 430 miles....... Even when I calcuate the electric cost to charge it, I will come out ahead every day/week/month I drive it.

It took me awhile to wade through the comments, but the comments almost all fall into a set of rules. The commenters who have a Volt are absolutely 100% sold on them and are able to demonstrate savings based on either cars they previously owned or cars they considered at the time they got their Volt. Then there are non-owners who are in other electric or hybrid cars who appreciate the Volt, and there are the wingnuts who 100% reject the Volt and any car like them (but the Volt in particular).

People who reject the Volt seem to feel it is too expensive and it takes too long (if ever) to get a return on investment. They ignore the fact that most people do not buy cars as "investments" and are merely trying to get a car that holds it's resale value while giving them whatever it is they want in a car, usually economy is only one of a number of other, possibly more important items in the list of "wants".

Bottom line: If you are in the market for a car in the class/price range of a Volt, you really should test drive a Volt and compare it with other cars in the class. It you're going to spend that kind of money anyway, and $400/month give or take is certainly not an outrageous price range to be in, then why not consider a car that will cost you less to fuel and operate than other cars in the same class and monthly payment range?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Enterprise

I got a call from Colin at Enterprise Burbank today and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the concerns I had after my last rental experience during my Volt's service were being looked at and changes were planned. He said they had added a new person for the wash rack (hmmm... added or replaced?) and were planning to work on ensuring that cars had a 1/2 tank of gas when handed over to the customer. I told Colin that I had discussed the issue with my service adviser at Community Chevrolet and that he said many of his customers have complained to him. But I also told Colin I appreciate his reaching out to me and I would give him another try. All in all, a very nice gesture.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Charge Cord

Picked up the new charging cord from Vic at Community Chevrolet this morning. They needed to adjust the paperwork but they said they would mail my copy to me so I wouldn't have to wait around. I had a chance to talk to Vic about the rental car experience and he said he gets blowback from his customers all the time about that. Of course, there's nothing he can do about it, but nice to vent to a sympathetic ear.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Volt Sighting!

Saw a white Volt today at the corner of Denny and Victory, heading east on Victory.


On top of that, when I got to work in Pasadena this morning, a bus driver got my attention and asked about how much MPG I get. When I told him I was getting about 800 MPG right now, he thought I didn't understand him. So I explained, briefly, about using mostly electricity except when on longer trips. He was amazed. :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Whoa! How the Chevy Volt Became a BMW???

Now this is a cool article. I had to watch the Volt powertrain video too.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/11451833/1/how-the-chevy-volt-became-a-bmw.html

"What's the bottom line here? BMW's best engineers examined the Chevy Volt and concluded that it was going to be the car to beat. They were so desperate to copy it that they hired the chief project manager of the Volt to make it happen as quickly as possible. I think BMW's finest engineers know a little more about what makes the best car, than some U.S. pundit who has never even driven the Volt."
Bravo!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Service Complete... almost!

Ah! Got my Voltie back this afternoon and man am I glad to be done with that noisy, vibrating Impala rental. I bitched to Enterprise about the gas thing and they gave me a 1/4 tank credit to use next time. At least it was something.

So when Vic, the service adviser at Community Chevrolet, called me and said I could pick up my car, he said that the one thing they were waiting on was the replacement 120v charge cord. It is supposed to be in tomorrow, and he will call me to come by and exchange my old cord for it. They are holding the paperwork open until then.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Drop Off For Service

My Volt Adviser had arranged an appointment for me to get the "Enhancements for side impact pole performance" done and so this morning at 8:05 AM, I went to the Community Chevrolet service department and they had no idea who I was or why I was there. Vic Marshi, the service adviser, did not have a record of my appointment. He said there was no problem at all in doing the service today. Actually there were 3 campaigns that needed to be done including an air bag check and a charge cord enhancement of some kind. Vic was excellent and the glitch of not finding the appointment was not at all an issue for me, but it did prompt me to follow up with my Volt Adviser to see what happened.

Unfortunately, the rental car experience was not as good. Enterprise came and picked me up at the dealer and I was given a choice of three Chevrolet models, and I had no preference so they gave me a Chevy Impala LT. (Next time, maybe I will look the car over and ask a few questions before deciding!) The Impala is what you would expect from a rental, not horrible but not really nice even on a good day, but on this day it had bug splat remains all over the paint from a very poor washing, and, as it turns out, only 1/8 of a tank of gas. (The dude who walked me through the handoff of the car said 1/4.) This is the second time I've gotten a rental from this facility when I have had my Volt serviced and both times I have had to put gas in the car before I could get on the road to work. This is *really* unacceptable. Whatever contract GM has with Enterprise, they need to specify that the car have some gas in it! I think 1/2 tank minimum to start. I ended up having to wait in line to gas it up before I could go anywhere. Unbelievable. This absolutely HAS to improve.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report

This actually arrived in my In Box on March 14th, but just now getting around to posting it.


Mileage: 6557

Electric Miles: 441
Gas Miles: 1
Total Miles: 442


Percentage on Electric: 100 %


Oil life: Still at 83%


Electric Consumption:  33 kW-hr/100 miles


Tire rotation is still due at 7500 miles.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

News of the Enhancement

Got an email from my Volt adviser today saying they can start to schedule appointments for the battery compartment enhancement any time after March 19th. She said it will likely take a couple of days, so asked if I would need a rental or loaner vehicle. I asked for an EV or Volt loaner, but I bet I get an Enterprise rental Malibu. As with the software enhancement done earlier, it will reset the EV range estimation and some of the preference settings. I asked for a morning drop off. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Wash and Wax

Sunny and a bit warm today, I decided I would pull the Pontiac out of the front garage and do my weekly car cleaning in there instead of out in the sun like last week. When it's hot like that I have so many problems getting the Aquanil-X product buffed off the paint. Since I now seem to have TWO cars to do each weekend, I don't need it being any harder. Working in the garage was nice. I have decent lighting and an iPod hooked up to a cheapo stereo that sounds just fine for a garage. I can sit on an office chair with wheels to do the sides, instead of stooping and kneeling. Works out pretty well. I did my Voltie first, then Bob's ActiveE. His wheels get much dirtier than mine and are harder to clean, having a more complex rib design. But the CroftGate products make pretty easy work out of it. No water needed.

Don't know how many weeks I'm going to want to do *both*cars, but I'll keep doing it until I feel worn out.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Side Trip

I had to go over to Sunset this morning so that little side trip made me use up all my electrons with still a mile to go on my way home tonight. No worries, the generator got me home just fine. :-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Silent Approach

Had my first close encounter with a pedestrian stepping off the curb and right into my path tonight as I was leaving work. I was going fairly slow as I was approaching a stop sign. He was walking the same direction I was driving and was going to cross the street. I kept my eye on him and when he started veering towards the curb I was ready. I could have hit my little pedestrian notification device, which is activated by pulling the turn signal stalk towards you. But at that point it was a little too late and when I touched the brakes, the tires made enough noise that he looked up and stopped. He was never in any danger, but it proves that you have to watch for such things when moving at low speeds near people.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hot Wax!

Wow, I went out to wash and wax my Voltie after breakfast this morning... OK morning was over, it was after 12... but as I sprayed my AQUANIL-X and wiped it off, I noticed it was really difficult to buff out to the usual shine. Then I noticed the overspray was turning white and drying almost as fast as it hit the paint. I had noticed it was kinda warm out, and the car was sitting in the sun, but this has not been a problem for several weeks when I've washed the car. Well I checked the thermometer and lo and behold! It's 90° out! And in the sun, I'm sure it's a lot hotter for that product hitting the paint. What a dummy I am! OK, back inside to wait for the sun to go down. I've got some movies to catch up on anyway. ;-)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Volt Manufacturing Hiatus

So last night the NY Times reported that the Volt assembly line will take a hiatus for 5 weeks because, well, lets be blunt, the cars aren't selling as well as expected. My reaction is exasperation on many levels.

  • GM has had garbage for advertisement on these cars. They don't explain what the car is at all. They don't mention the upscale features, so some people think it's an economy car and are shocked by the premium car price tag. But it *is* indeed a premium car, and is priced pretty well for such a car, especially when offset by the lower cost to fuel and operate it. If GM set expectations in its advertising so folks understood this is a Lexus/Buick-level car, then the sticker shock could be avoided. GM doesn't mention the lower maintenance costs, the ability to drive across country, the way the fuel economy rating is pretty much the worst you will get instead of the best, as in other cars... the list goes on and on of the stuff people aren't hearing about. Having the BMW Active-E in the family now is an eye-opener. There is no retail price on it, as the car is not for sale, but there is an implied retail figure and people are definitely *not* surprised at how high it is in the slightest. But the"Chevy" is always a shock to those same people. Guess why! GM has to counteract that.
  • The fire incident, no matter how silly or unwarranted, hurt the car's image. And the likes of Fox News will do their best to keep it in people's minds. So GM needs to *indirectly* address that by talking up how safe the car really is. Talk about the number of airbags, its crash rating, its satisfied drivers... anything to counteract the incredibly persistent memory people have for bad news.
  • The car is a *horrendous* political football. Fox News likes to condemn it regularly. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) can't keep his nose out of it. Wing nuts say it's "Gubmint Motors" trying to ram something bad down our good citizen's throats...  it's ridiculous. Where is the story about the guy who drove across country doing an average of 75 MPH through deserts, hills and valleys, with no problems and great gas mileage? GM could host some kind of endurance or long-range touring event and get Matt Lauer to interview General Motors CEO Dan Akerson about the results of such an event. Come on, this isn't brain surgery. Forum after forum that I am on has people who have never even seen the car, let alone driven one, talking about how bad it is and how it will never succeed... the negativity from uninformed and highly vocal people is withering.
  • The car was designed while W was in office and before the financial meltdown. It has nothing to do with today's economy and is nothing but a well engineered alternative fuel vehicle. It's been thoroughly developed and tested *before* delivery to buyers/lessors. (Unlike a certain German car... the Active-E... that also resides in this household now.)
  • As good as it is, the car is not perfect. The 40-ish mile battery range is fine for every day and most of the time I don't need any more. Obviously, when I do, there is the generator. I'm very satisfied with the car's range and capability. But the truth is that just an extra 10 miles would make me feel even more satisfied on some psychological level, and would allow me to maybe use the "sport" mode more often if I felt like it. It's silly, but it's there. And the design, while highly effective and seamless, is becoming very slightly dated already, if only from an aspect of how people think about such cars. All that aside, the car is amazing in just how transparent the technology is. You can just get in the car and drive - anywhere - without giving the mechanics and electronics much thought. You just drive like any other car. As opposed to something like the Active-E, which is intentionally designed to be different in how it is operated. 
I sure hope things turn around soon. I think it's pretty obvious that electric cars with batteries, and perhaps a range extender of some kind like a gasoline engine or a hydrogen stack will be needed for the future. And I think that once people start hearing the truth about how good such vehicles are, the faster the change will happen. But GM needs to start doing some serious advertising and get their head out of their nether parts.

WTF!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Beemer Arrives

Bob Took delivery this afternoon. So now my little Voltie has some competition in the house. 









Saturday, February 25, 2012

Beemer News - The VIN!

Bob got an email from his BMW guy today saying his car was in transit to the dealership. The email included a VIN. This is the first solid proof that he is actually going to get a car. Pretty cool. If the car is just coming from Oxnard as has been indicated on the BMW forums, it should be showing up in just a day or so. Here's the VIN: WBAUP3C55BVS99039

Friday, February 24, 2012

February OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report

Mileage: 6115

Electric Miles: 291
Gas Miles: 0
Total Miles: 291


Percentage on Electric: 100 %


Oil life: 83%


Electric Consumption:  31 kW-hr/100 miles (not sure why this is at odds with the Lifetime economy reading, but there it is.) 


Tire rotation is still due at 7500 miles.



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Beemer News...

Bob got a message from his BMW dealer saying that some allocated cars are shipping to the dealers this week. So things are looking good and they're very eager to meet us very soon!

Monday, February 20, 2012

6000 Miles at Last!

Finally hit 6K on the way home tonight. Wow, I'm going to be lucky to hit 8K before the end of my first year.

MPG Ratings

I find it funny how, when news agencies talk about things the public generally knows about, they can say things that are not the full and accurate truth but nobody really complains because they know enough of the facts behind the story and can fill in the gaps for themselves. But when people don't already know, all they see is the "truth" presented to them in the news story. In many cases, that isn't a complete enough picture.

Case in point, a recent article in the respected New York Times had an article about cars that can pass up the pump and there was a lot of good, if abbreviated information in there. For example, the last car they mentioned was the new Toyota Prius plug-in. They said:
"...the new Prius plug-in hybrid can travel just 15 miles on battery juice alone — one-third the Volt’s range — but it can top 50 m.p.g. when its gas engine comes into play, beating the Chevy."
 Now, almost any Volt owner knows what's wrong with that statement, yet it is technically correct in many ways. The *rated* gasoline mileage on a Volt is indeed 35 MPG. That assumes you are driving the Volt only on the gas generator with no power from the battery. But that practically never happens. And a casual reader of the NY Times would never get that. As Paul Harvey would say, here's the rest of the story.

First, a lot depends on how and how far you routinely drive. If you are like most people, your daily drive is within the Volt's approximately 40 mile battery-only range. So until you actually burn some gas, your gas mileage is infinite. If you occasionally drive in extended range mode, the gas MPG you use will average into your battery-only rating and will give you a very high MPG rating. We're talking hundreds of miles to the gallon. Add to this averaging the fact that you can get some "free" miles even when you are in extended range mode, running the generator, and you can easily beat the pants off of any hybrid. Prius plug-in included. An article in Green Car Reports spelled these "free" miles out pretty clearly. Some drivers report mileage as high as 45 mpg while the gas engine is running, not counting any averaging for electric miles. The short reason for this is that once the Volt has recharged its battery somewhat via regenerative braking (and unused juice from the generator, I imagine), it will then switch back to electric-drive mode for a few miles here and there. These miles get recorded under the gas-driven mileage, but no gas is being used while the car is driving them, so the official rating gets recorded as fewer MPG than the car actually got.

The MPG estimate stated in the NY Times article is quoting official figures. Officially, the Volt gets 35 MPG when running only on gas. They are correct to compare official numbers across the board, so when they quote a 15 mile battery-only electric range, they don't really need to explain that 15 miles is about the best you'll do in warm weather and city driving. Likewise, 50 MPG gas-only range is an official estimate. But article after article talks about how Prius owners find getting 50 MPG nearly impossible, as anyone who understands official MPG ratings can easily realize. Unless you drive like you have an egg between your foot and the gas pedal, and drive on flat terrain, at surface street speeds, it isn't going to happen. The Volt's official 35 MPG rating is, conversely, about the worst you can expect to get. My real, every day driving in a combination of city and freeway, in traffic and clear highways has given me an average of 685 MPG since I got the car in May of last year. And I have filled the 8 gallon tank one time since I got the car. (The tank was filled when I got it, so I've used about 7.5 gallons in 9 months.) My electricity usage has cost me $30 a month. The car is on a dedicated meter, so it's clearly separated out from the rest of the electric bill. Try to find a Prius driver who spends $30 a month to drive 32 miles a day, 5 days a week. You won't find one.

Good day!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

GM's New Ads

So there's a new article in Green Car Reports about how GM is changing the advertising for the Volt.

I think I've pretty much known for some time that GM has a moron in charge of advertising for this product. But the real disappointment for me is that so many people not only don't know much about the Volt but don't *want* to know the facts. And all they have to say about it is rabid froth. They haven't seen one in-person let alone driven one but they've already decided that it's trash. We are surrounded by folks willing to elect Rick Santorum for President, for cryin' out loud. People who see gasoline prices rising and think... what? That more and more people on this planet are going to be able to keep driving bigger, faster, more racy gas-engined cars on a middle-class paycheck?

I don't get it. You'd think the awards that the Volt has gotten, the way it fits into a vast majority of people's driving habits and yet its flexibility and extended range, the high level of quality and engineering that has gone into it and the amazing support GM has offered buyers would make them at least stop long enough to listen to a few facts and try it for themselves... But I think the truth is that the folks who are really in the target market for this car are silent on the issue. The ones making absurd and outright wrong comments about the Volt and EVs in general are people who couldn't buy one if they wanted to, so no point in trying it out. I know a few people who have tried it and found it was not really something they felt worked well for them, but were impressed and had nothing but good things to say about it regardless. But most I know of actively want one!

So what is the problem these people who have never seen or driven a Volt have? What causes such a closed and negative mind? What makes people so venomous against a car that is only presenting one option (and one widely recognized as a good option!) to a certain segment of the buying public?

BTW: I get so tired of hearing people bitch about their taxes paying for EV subsidies. There are a host of reasons why the subsidies are (A) tiny compared to other stuff the government subsidizes, and (B) absolutely needed to jump start the adoption of not only the cars themselves, but the infrastructure (home chargers and such). China’s government is pushing EVs in a big way too. They've pledged $1.5 billion per year for the next 10 years in subsidies and tax breaks to support the industry.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Aproved Charging Station

Well BMW has graciously approved of our existing Coulomb CT500 ChargePoint station that we use for the Volt. They also seem to have approved the credit info Bob submitted, so now we are just waiting to see if a car is available. Assuming one can be allocated to us, it will be interesting to see if ChargePoint pings me with a "WTF?" when they start seeing this other car showing up on their charging records.

video

Friday, January 27, 2012

BMW?

OK, I'm a GM guy, but my partner's first car was a BMW and he's always had a soft spot in his heart for them. I'm sure he gets tired of hearing me rant about the "crazy BMW drivers" around me on the SoCal freeways.

So when I read recently that BMW was putting out a new 1-series electric, I was interested from an EV standpoint, but not at all from the "BMW" standpoint. Ah but then a flyer from BMW arrived in my mailbox inviting me to become an "Electronaut". 700 of these 1-series cars are available for a 2 year closed end lease. Now that Bob has sold his Escalade and was having trouble trying to decide what to replace it with, I got to thinking... and signed him up to get one of these limited-availability babies.

It's kind of a chance of a lifetime and it combines his like of BMW with his love of EV technology. The stars will have to align just right, but we signed up and already got them to approve our existing charging station. Now we just wait to hear from the dealer as to whether there is a car available for us and if we qualify. Bob is very excited and it's a short enough commitment. Conveniently timed to him selling his Esky and us getting tax refunds.

Of course you know I'll be making comparisons to my Volt here.

http://www.insideline.com/bmw/activee/2012/2012-bmw-activee-first-drive.html#add-comment

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gassed

Yep, had the generator run on and off about the last mile and a half home tonight.

Cold, Rainy, and Wet!

So battery charge and range are definitely affected by weather and today is out to prove it. I've been seeing shorter range displayed on my DIC for several weeks now due to colder temperatures. Today adds rain and darkness to the mix. I got to work this morning with an estimated 13 miles left, which is the lowest I've seen so far, I think. Not to worry, as I have a full tank of gas. Also I could have plugged into the 110 outlet on P3 today as that parking space was available, but I don't mind if the engine starts for a bit on the way home. It gets little enough use. Will report what the results are when I park it at home tonight.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Charging At Work

Recently our company had an item in the news about adding solar panels to several of their buildings and I contacted the folks who put that news out for us to see if they know anything about possible plans for EV charging stations for employees (and maybe even members) in the future. I've been getting passed around from one manager to another, which is good because those managers are now aware of the interest in the subject. Now I've been in touch with one person who indicated a couple of groups are working on the idea. Right now there is a moratorium on EV chargers while the thing about policies and procedures for people using them, and I've asked to be included on any questions or needed input any of the people looking into this might need. 

Keeping fingers crossed. I don't really need to be able to charge at work, since my commute is 32 miles and well within the 40 or so battery-only miles my car has. And of course, the generator kicks in to take me as far as I want to go beyond that, if needed. But charging at work would reduce generator use for those times when I need to run errands or go somewhere outside my normal commute that would otherwise require me to use gas to run the generator. And I think seeing the charging stations at work would provide a strong incentive for fence-sitters or even folks who haven't considered an EV. For Leaf or Coda owners, it could be the only way their drive would be possible. So I hope I can help get the ball rolling here. Not just for me.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report

Mileage: 5149

Electric Consumption: 33 kW-hr/100 miles
Electric Miles: 438
Gas Miles: 4
Total Miles: 441

Percentage on Electric: 99 %


Oil life: 84%


Tire rotation is due at 7500 miles.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

First Gasoline Fill-up!

Shell station on Victory in Burbank. 6.947 gallons at $3.939/gal so spent $27.36 total. I kept looking around to see if anyone was watching the guy with the Volt put gas in the tank. Yes, the car next to us had some passengers taking a more than casual notice. Only two other patrons there that time of night.

Went well over 5000 miles on that first tankful. Had about 70 miles left (about 2 gallons).  :-)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Rant Against TIME

Another idiotic post about electric cars, this time from TIME magazine.

link

My comment, in part, to TIME was:

TIME magazine saying that Volt's price tag is a "huge premium over a comparably sized car" is absolutely wrong... it's about the same price as a similarly sized BMW and about comparably equipped. And yes, I've heard from people who've owned both and they feel they are comparable with the Volt getting a bit of an edge over a BMW. But people who don't look very deep into the Volt only see it as an electric version of the Cruze. It is not that at all. And it's not like any other small Chevy. It's not an "economy" car like an Aveo or Spark, so saying it's priced way over similar cars is saying you don't understand what this car is. Unless you've taken the time to go to a dealer and drive one, you don't know what you're talking about. A Leaf or a Prius has a much cheaper feel. Not in the same class at all. But if you think of this as a car in the same league and price as as BMW 3 series, but electric, you've got an idea. 

Read more: http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2012/01/06/battery-warning-why-electric-vehicles-have-yet-to-take-off/#ixzz1ijsTYaxH

Thursday, January 5, 2012

LA Times Article on the Recall

GM says fix in works for Chevrolet Volt after fires during tests

None of this bothers me. I've had no troubles with my Volt at all and love driving it. It will be interesting to see how this works out and how long I'll be without my car when they schedule the fixes. Of course they'll provide another vehicle for me to use while mine is in the shop. Hopefully not from that stinky Enterprise agency I had to use before.

Important Letter from GM’s Mark Reuss

Got this via email as well as FedEx today:



January 5, 2012


Dear Volt Owner,

A little over a month ago we brought to your attention efforts by GM and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to better understand the cause of a post-crash electrical fire that occurred after NHTSA crash tested a Chevrolet Volt.  I am writing to inform you of our solution to this issue.

We remain firm in our belief that the Volt is a safe car- before, during and immediately after a crash.  Although there have been no real world customer incidents, we’re taking precautionary steps to ensure your peace of mind.  The focus of this investigation has been on what happens days or weeks after a severe side pole impact test, followed by a roll over.  We are enhancing the vehicle structure and battery coolant system to improve battery protection after a severe crash.  We will notify you in February to schedule service to make these modifications.

We’re sure you will have questions.  We will be hosting a web chat on Friday, January 6, 2012, at Noon EST that will specifically address details.   Please join us at ChevroletVoltAge.com http://www.chevroletvoltage.com/index.php/volt-blog/18-volt/2564-chevrolet-volt-battery-web-chat.html.  If you aren’t able to join us for the web chat, you can read it later at the link above.

If you have any additional questions, please contact your Volt advisor.  The contact information is 877-4-VOLT-INFO (877-486-5846) or VxxxdaXXX@gmexpert.com.

Our mission is to provide our customers with the best vehicles on the road.  Among the many benefits and attributes we strive to provide our customers, safety is the most important.  It’s the ultimate piece of standard equipment we can offer.

We are tremendously proud of our owners’ overwhelmingly positive response to the Volt.  There is no greater compliment to our team than to have you, our owners, rate Volt the highest of all makes and models on Consumer Reports Annual Satisfaction Survey.

Finally, I want to sincerely thank you for standing by us during this experience.  It’s been very gratifying to read the supporting comments you posted on Volt’s Facebook page and other forums.

Please have a happy and safe new year.

Kind Regards,


Mark Reuss - Volt Owner (#1457) and the GM Team

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Only 20 minutes into the new year. Here's hoping I see a lot more electric and hybrid cars on the road in the coming year!

Both Leaf and Volt sold more units in the U.S. during their first year on the market than did either the Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight. And the 17,000 plug-in cars that sold amount to almost three times as many as were sold in the entire previous EV era of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Outside of the US, sales were even stronger. 60,000 plug-in cars hit the planet’s roads in 2011.

Link to Charged