At what point will the Chevy Volt show signs of range loss?
This has been a question for some time in the EV community. General Motors made a bold and brave move to limit access to the Volt's 16.5kWh battery to around 10kWh. The brilliance of this move both protected the battery from overcharging and left Volt drivers with the same driving experience with zero loss of range for years of ownership.
Few remember, but it was GM's design that forced Nissan and Tesla to provide the eight year 100,000 mile battery warranty that has set the standard for the industry.
Editor's Note: Due to a communication breakdown this article was posted prior to finishing the test. Will update in the near future.
Most Volt owners sit back and listen to stories of range loss with other brands with a large grin on their face knowing they have yet to experience it. As stated before, it is primarily in the protected design that has hidden this natural chemistry degradation from our sight. With over 60,000 Volts and a half a billion miles, it is only a matter of time. Chemistry still is chemistry.
97,000 Mile 2012 Chevy Volt
Recently, I came upon a 2012 Volt in good condition with 97,000 miles for $14,000 that I just couldn't pass up. I secured the used Volt for my younger brother but not without some basic testing and comparison to my own 2012 Volt with one fourth the miles. This Volt was a fleet vehicle in Florida averaging over 40,000 miles per year. My Volt is pampered and kept in a shaded garage. Though the conditions of the fleet vehicle cannot be known, the Florida temperatures are not as tough as Phoenix but hotter than my North Carolina Volt.
With the 97,000 miles driven on this MY2012 Volt, it is clear that many, if not the majority of the miles, were using the gasoline powered range extender. My hypothesis was that the battery should not suffer due to the excess ICE miles. My curiosity was now to find out.
When I received the Volt the guess-0-meter registered 35 miles of total range. I took the Volt out on an easy drive averaging 48 mph. It achieved 45 miles of AER all electric range. The number is relative to many factors, but comparing to my well cared for Volt, I achieved 50 AER on the same path and similar conditions. The first test showed 10.3 kWh used.
Another interesting discovery was that the charge took nine hours opposed to the typical eight on my Level 1 charger.
If you have ever seen the movie "Black Beauty," there is also no telling how hard this horse has been ridden. Still this 97,350 mile Volt is "not" showing any changes in the intended driving experience. Though degradation occurs in all batteries, it happens at a lesser rate when the charge is limited and thermal conditions are managed. Bottom line, the AER driving experience has not changed past the GM specifications.
Many naysayers wait with baited breath for EV battery replacements. With high mileage EREVs like the Chevy Volt, they will have to wait a bit longer. At some point the Chevy Volt may give up 4-8 miles of AER at 98 MPGe, but will continue on its extender for many, many miles to come.
I plan on doing a bit more tests prior to turning it over to my brother. If you have any tests you would like to see, then leave a detailed comment below.