Chevy Volt Onboard Charger Dissection – Video

3 years ago by Electric CarsTV 11

Okay, so it’s not quite a dissection video, but we do get a brief glimpse inside the Chevy Volt’s onboard charger.

As mentioned in the video, these units are often just replaced if they fail, as repair isn’t typically possible.

Has your Volt’s onboard charger been replaced?  If so, did the dealership provide you with the cause of the failure?

Volt's Onboard Charger

Volt’s Onboard Charger

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11 responses to "Chevy Volt Onboard Charger Dissection – Video"

  1. MTN Ranger says:

    Over the years on the gm-volt.com website, I have seen numerous EVSE failures and even charge port failures, but never the actual onboard charger. I think they are fairly bulletproof.

  2. Anderlan says:

    “Dissection”? He took the cover off.

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      I think that’s why the story says it is not a dissection. 😉

  3. Bill Howland says:

    Well, GM Technicians should get pretty comfortable with taking the cover off these units as 3300 watts is the only so called ‘level 2’ charger they use for anything, world wide.

    Since 6600 watt capability is the ‘de facto’ standard at many US public charging facilities, it will be interesting to see, once GM starts electrifying either more vehicles or much larger vehicles, if they implement a 6600 watt version, or, if they simply do the same thing TESLA is with the “S” and offer 2 boxes for those who want 6600 watts.

    1. Ziv says:

      Bill, have you seen any expert opinion on how much more a 6.6 kW charge rate charger would cost if GM upgraded the Gen II Volt to do 6.6 kW charging?
      I think the Leaf charged $450 to upgrade from 3.3 to 6.6 but it has been quite a while since I read that so I am not completely positive that that is the case.
      I find it hard to believe that GM will actually market an electric car with such pokey charging. Yeah, I know we have the gas genset that makes the faster charge rate a tiny bit less necessary, but opportunity charging at 10 miles per hour of charging is so 2010, heck even 22 miles of additional range (6.6 kW charge rate) isn’t all that impressive. 3.3 charge rates make public chargers a bit of a rip off when they charge by the hour. Anything this cheap that allows me to use electricity instead of gasoline is an option I would be willing to pay for.

      1. realdb2 says:

        I don’t have an answer to your question about the cost upgrade but I do have an opinion on why they don’t do it.

        I would love it if Chevy went to a 6.6kW charger but my theory is all of their battery testing equipment (which appears substantial if you’ve seen the recent factory tour videos) would have to be upgrade or replaced too.

        So yes, the cost to drop a different charger in each Volt is probably not relatively high but perhaps the cost to retool all of their battery testing equipment is very high?

        1. Mike I says:

          Are you kidding me? Regen in L produces many times more power going into the battery than their onboard charger, even if upgraded to 6.6kW.

          1. realdb2 says:

            I don’t think I was clear with my point, sorry.

            I know regen goes a lot higher and the battery is capable of discharge and recharge rates much higher than 3.3kW.

            What i’m saying is perhaps the mechanisms Chevy is using to test the life cycles of these batteries (mimicking years of use) are all set to test lifespan etc. at 3.3kW. Perhaps all of the factory systems used in these systems would need to be changed?

            To me if it was as simple as a $400 difference part Chevy would have either done it already or offered it as an option.

            1. ModernMarvelFan says:

              I can’t imagine that it cost more than $500.

              It is just an AC to DC converter. The 6.6kW would just require a higher current handling parts since the input AC is the same voltage. I also think the output DC is the same voltage as well. So we are only talking about doubling current. That would requires parts with 2x the power handling and extra cooling. None of that seems to be too expensive. Once you go near 10kW, then it will cost a bit more. But 6.6kW or even 7.2kW should be industry standards… Although I do agree that the size of the unit might increase.

              Also, the higher rated charger can always handle the lower power input.

      2. Bill Howland says:

        Have I seen anything Definitive? No, but its pretty easy to see why they do it.

        In most of the world, 16 amps is the maximum amount of draw allowed from a single phase circuit. The SAE standard Chevy decided to use was J1772, as pretty much everyone else does, except for you know who.

        The Mennekes standard or a variant for China are also ‘standards’. But they are only needed above 3300 watts.

        So GM has a worldwide compatible car if it sticks with 3300 for the standard Level 2 connector.

        Now, I don’t see any harm in GM offering, for certain markets which will allow 32 amperes on a single phase line, say, Britain, and Australia, besides North America, of offering FOR THOSE MARKETS ONLY, a Tesla-Esque option of having a second 3300 watt charger shoe-horned in (and the water line also ‘2 ferred’), as an extra cost option to charge up cars twice as fast.

        Let’s play a little game: Suppose the Caddy Escalade was going to be Extended Ranged, eventually, or Volticized. Lets say the specs of the battery system are:

        48 KWH battery pack for 100 mile all electric range.

        Ok, now, 120 volts would only cut it for a small minority of owners, whereas 120 is perfectly fine for 55% of VOlT owners. (GM thought it would be only 20%).

        Let’s say 55% of Caddy owners said the 15 hours to totally recharge on 3300 watts is totally fine with them since they only drive 50 miles per day, and rarely 100, and when they do, since they top off the battery every day in the garage, 3.3 kw is still fine for the majority.

        Now, for posters here, and with a 48 kwh battery, and certainly, for salesmen and other high-mileage Escalade EV drivers, they want ‘quicker’ charging, say 8 hours to recharge from totally dead. As mentioned it shouldn’t be a big deal to offer a second unit as an option and just install a 32 amp rated J1772 jack as opposed to the normal 16, and install the second charger in parallel with the first rather like in the Tesla it is an option.

        That way, the majority of people who don’t want it don’t pay fo something they don’t want, and GM really doesn’t have any new parts to deal with since its just a second plain charger they already use worldwide.

        True, in other countries that have 16 amp single phase restrictions, GM at that point would have to decide if its worth installation of a MENNEKES connector and a 3 charger option (9.9 kw) using 3 of the units balanced on the incoming 3 phase. And if they don’t, plenty of the World would love a caddy escalade with 160 km AER and 3300 watt charging.

        My point is, any of these scenarios end up using almost the same equipment world wide.

        Now as far as VOlt 2.0 is concerned, the official pronouncement is that it will:
        “Be a little faster…”
        “But not really.”

        I take that to mean they will do away with the tapering that occurs with the earlier VOlts, and just run full speed 3300 watts all the time, to shave 20 minutes off the charging time, and charge the battery more fully.

  4. kdawg says:

    What a “green” shop. 🙂