Tag Archives: Volt

Chevy Bolt Or Tesla Model S, Which Is The Best EV For A Road Trip?

Everyone loves a road trip: Driving through a region, discovering its magic, one mile at a time, while being as free as a bird to stop and sleep wherever you want to. It’s no wonder that road trips are an American symbol: They’re linked to a natural sense of freedom and exploration of vast landscapes that are so iconic of the US. But when it comes to road trips, it’s always the old Mustang or the long Cadillac that get in the picture of the perfect trip. Have you ever considered an electric car instead? We’re comparing the Tesla Model S and the Chevy Bolt to find out the best car for the exercise!

Chevy Bolt EV

The essentials on the road

Even though an electric car has a different fuelling system, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pack like for a standard road trip, namely a box of tools to be able to change a flat tyre and cables to revive the battery. Admittedly, there’s no need to worry in case you’ve forgotten a tool or you find yourself unable to move the car. The tow truck service is equally available to fuel-powered and electric vehicles! But, you’ll enjoy the road trip more if you don’t need it!

Planning ahead

If it’s your first long drive with an EV, make sure to check a map of charging stations in the area before you leave. These are more difficult to find than fuel stations!

Tesla Model S: Supercharged in 30min

The Tesla Model S has some serious bragging rights, as with any electric car that allows you to invest in the future. But what is really exciting about this model is that you can in only 30 minutes get the car charged to complete a 170-mile-long journey, assuming you are using a Tesla Supercharger charging station. Remember the EV charging map? That’s why you need it! Additionally, the Tesla S is a fast car that can even beat the Ferrari 458 in a race.

Chevy Bolt: 313 miles on a charge

In comparison, the Chevy Bolt offers an impressive driving range on one charge: Up to 238 miles, although drivers claim to have managed 313 miles on a single charge. Unfortunately the Chevy Bolt can’t use the Tesla Supercharger, but you can use DC fast-charging stations to deliver 90 miles in the first 30 min. If you’re stopping in a hotel, it will take a 240-volt Level 2 charging station 9 hours to fill a discharged battery pack.

The verdict

According to EPA estimates, the 259 miles range of the Tesla Model S beats the Chevy Bolt, especially if you take into account the time of charge. However, recent tests by Consumer Reports show otherwise: The Chevy Bolt surpasses expectations with a 235 miles range, vs the Tesla that only hits 250 miles. But charging time and comfort are in favor of the Tesla’s vehicle.

In conclusion, a long-distance road trip is better planned with a Tesla Model S, as you’ll be making the most of its supercharging abilities and comfy seats. However, if you’re driving only a few hundred miles, the Chevy Bolt is a great alternative that exceeds range expectations, as long as you remember to use DC fast-charging stations!

Pre-Production Chevy Volt Test Drive

This is a neat video of a pre-production Volt in action. You actually get a first-hand perspective of what it is like to ride in this range extended plug-in electric vehicle. The car is basically complete, with a working LCD screen in the dash. The passengers note that the car does have a good amount of pep; the 100% torque of the electric engine should provide competitive acceleration. The car is also whisper quiet of course. See and hear for yourself:

GM’s 230 MPG Volt Campaign

GM Volt 230

I watch YouTube more than I care to admit. Last week I noticed a mystifying advertisement before many of the videos: A green screen with a large number 230, with the 0 depicted as a winking standard electrical wall outlet, and a smaller date 8-11 underneath. Since I had no idea what the numbers meant, I Googled them to no avail. Eventually, I discovered that this was a GM marketing campaign for the Volt. But how did the number 230 come into play? Does is stand for 230 volt outlet required? The number of days before GM declares bankruptcy again?

Finally, GM revealed on August 11th, 2009, that 230 was the official MPG rating given by the EPA. The advertisements now link to Chevy’s Official Volt page. While I was disappointed in the general lack of content on the actual page, the bottom corner provided a real gem of a link: Chevy Volt’s Facebook page. Those who do not know much about Facebook should know that people, places, events, and even inanimate objects such as the Chevy Volt can have their own Facebook pages now. The Chevy Volt Facebook Wall actually has a death of information on the Volt. People are free to voice their concerns and a Chevy spokesman tries his darndest to answer them all. Here is the spokesperson’s explanation of where they got the number 230.

It’s based on draft EPA fuel economy methodology, which takes into account thousands of drive patterns over an extended period of time. For example, some people will never use a drop of gasoline as they will always stay within the 40 mile pure electric range, while others will use a combination of pure electricity and engine-generated electricity when driving, and still others may stay within the 40 miles and just drive innefficiently. The assumption is most Volt owners will plug-in daily, so there has to be some common ground to compare vehicles between nothing and infinity. To rationalize all these scenarios and situations, the EPA’s draft methodology calculates this via mpg and our estimates based on that methodology are at least 230 mpg in city driving. Just as important, we are expecting the Volt to get more than 100 mpg combined (city/hwy). Also, we have not announced the charge sustaining mode mpg yet because we’re still testing and validating that mode of operation. -Phil

Originally, I was very disappointed in this ad campaign. All this build up around an arbitrary number and it all leads to a very plain, uninspiring website with a bunch of arbitrary numbers being crunched to explain where 230 MPG comes from.

It is crucial to convey what exactly the car does, and how the car is capable of your daily commute without needing a single drop of gas. I’ve witnessed first hand that the general public does not fully understand how plug-in hybrids work. One of my colleagues at work, an educated twenty something year-old, said he wasn’t a fan of the Chevy Volt because he thought it just died after 40 miles of electric driving. This was disconcerting, especially because we worked for an environmental activism group. I would have expected him to know how a breakthrough hybrid vehicle such as the Volt switches on an electric generator, when the battery is low. But not everybody has researched this. Therefore, simplifying this plug-in hybrid system to an arbitrary number, 230 MPG, might actually be the best way to communicate to the masses how such an unfamiliar vehicle operates.

So my final summation on the campaign is that Chevy did a good job simplifying and minimizing the dangers of bringing something unfamiliar to the market. Next, I would suggest some good old fashioned car advertising. Show it driving up a hill or blasting past a Mazda.

On the Chevy Volt

Chevy Volt

The Chevy Volt is starting to look more and more like a GM pipe dream every day. For instance, this little bit of anecdotal evidence:

NHTSA, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, proposed earlier this year that U.S. automakers must achieve a 25% increase in fuel economy from the 2011 to 2015 model years. When the NHTSA asked GM why they left out the Chevy Volt in their submitted plans, GM basically responded by saying the Volt was a low-volume application and would not really be widely produced in that time frame. GM spokesman Greg Martin was quoted,“We’ve been very cautious in terms of the volume, just because of the innovation and the technology associated with that vehicle. There’s a note of caution that, yes the technology is breakthrough, it is a game-changer, but as with any new game-changing technology, there needs to be a reasonable expectation set in terms of volume.”

Game-changer… Right.  If privately owned companies like Tesla are coming out with cars that travel 220 miles on a charge, than I would hardly refer to 40 miles on a charge before a gas generator has to kick in to recharge the battery as game changing.  GM has access to vast amounts of resources and this is the best they can come up with? And they continue to beat this FlexFuel ethanol horse to death, which will never take off.  We might as well run our cars on fresh produce and livestock, rather than still relatively cheap, useless in any other application, oil.  Anyways, I’m sidetracked and I’ll have to write another post on the Volt later when they give me a good reason to. But for now, I don’t have much hope for this still very much a concept vehicle. Hope they prove me wrong.