Op-Ed: Where the 2016 Chevrolet Volt Falls Short


2016 Chevrolet Volt - Image Credit: InsideEVs / Mike Anthony

2016 Chevrolet Volt – Image Credit: InsideEVs / Mike Anthony

There’s a lot of great enhancements in the new 2016 Chevrolet Volt, and many people (myself included) are excited at the potential that the new Volt holds to gain  mainstream market appeal.

That being said, there’s a couple key areas where I feel Chevrolet missed the mark in choosing not to address them.  I’ll discuss those here, along with why I believe this.  It’s my hope that Chevrolet also reads this article, and truly considers changing their stance on these items in the future… and if they do read this article, perhaps they’ll consider hiring me as their chief electric vehicle marketing officer… MBA, MSEE, and “Voltec Passion” credentials available upon request!  Shameless personal advertising aside, I’m looking to you – the readers – to confirm or deny my assertions below.

With a longer range Volt, Engine Running Due to Temperature will be the cause of a larger percentage of gasoline use.

With a longer range Volt, Engine Running Due to Temperature will be a greater source of gasoline use.

Engine Running due to Temperature (ERDTT)
Debated often, this point of contention is often referred to as a horse that’s been beaten to death repeatedly, due to how often an alleged vocal minority raises the concern.

For those that don’t know, ERDTT is a somewhat controversial mode for a vocal few, where the engine turns on purely to help heat and defrost the passenger cabin more quickly.  This is currently implemented such that the engine will initially turn on as a function of outdoor temperature (below 35F or 15F depending on user setting), heats up the full coolant loop via the engine’s waste heat, and then turns off the engine.  Subsequent engine runs are based on the coolant temperature.

(It’s worth noting that, above the user set temperature, the Volt has a resistive heater to heat a smaller coolant loop for cabin heating.  This prevents the engine running at higher temperatures when heat is desired.  This alone does avoid a lot of gasoline/engine use, as other PHEV’s like the Toyota Prius Plug-in require the engine to be running whenever cabin heat is desired.)

I personally recognize the benefits to the ERDTT mode: many people that could care less about burning a small amount of gasoline will see a smaller decrease in all-electric range in the winter, and also potentially be more comfortable/warm during their drive.  Also, if you’re driving a greater distance than the Volt’s all-electric range, this mode allows you to travel further on battery overall, using the engine to create heat instead of those precious electrons.

However, the mode results in burning infinitely more gas than one would otherwise burn for trips that do not exceed the all-electric range, and that’s what is frustrating to those of us addicted to the silent EV drive that the Volt typically provides.  I’m happy to have the default setting use ERDTT for the “mass market” that may not care, but there seems to be no real excuse for not providing the flexibility to disable it.

This Tag Line is Mostly True, and the Volt Avoids Gas Far More than Other PHEV's

This Tag Line is Mostly True, and the Volt Avoids Gas Far More than Other PHEV’s

GM argues they need this mode to satisfy NHTSA rules and regulations.  A vocal minority argue that the mode causes them to burn gasoline when they still have battery available.  Neither side will budge.

The part that bothers me most here is that I claim GM is effectively turning away a large percentage of the market.  I say this because GM has constantly touted how the Volt allows drivers to drive the majority of time on electricity alone, without gas use. Furthermore, they cite numerous surveys where owners crave that even more.  “More electric miles!” is what they all exclaim, which is why the 2016 Volt will have 50 EPA estimated electric miles before the gasoline engine has to kick in to travel further… unless it’s below 35F or 15F out.

If everyone wants more electric miles, why leave ERDTT implemented in the same manner, which effectively prevents the population in the northern climates from having more electric miles?  While it may be a vocal minority that is against this mode, I would argue that some people who want that “all electric” feel the majority of the time will be swayed away from the Volt because of this mode.  I, like others, do not enjoy making a 6 mile trip when I have 30 miles of battery range, only to have the engine come on for a short period of time because of an arbitrary temperature set point.  It is even more frustrating to be a fraction of a mile from home, entering into my suburb that can be a few degrees colder than the surrounding area, and having my engine turn on for a whopping 30 seconds.  Sure, it didn’t burn much gas, but it can’t be good for the engine either, and it certainly didn’t help heat the cabin in that amount of time.

As another example of this flawed operation, I can have my Volt plugged in, perform a remote start in 10 degree weather, and have the cabin get nice and toasty warm without the engine running (you can set ERDTT to be disabled when the vehicle is plugged in).  Then, as soon as I unplug my toasty warm Volt, it turns the engine on because the outside temperature is under 15F (I have ERDTT set to the colder setting).  My cabin is already nice and hot, as is the coolant loop, so this doesn’t seem useful at all.

While studies have also shown that the Volt’s EREV architecture travels far more on electricity alone than other plug-in hybrids that need the engine for full acceleration, they could improve this even more by re-thinking ERDTT.  If GM must have this mode per NHTSA regulations, can’t they at least compromise? How about designing it such that the engine doesn’t come on right after a remote start with a very warm cabin?  In other words, based on the coolant temperature of the inner (resistive heating element) coolant loop for the first engine run, just like what happens for subsequent engine runs.  Or perhaps they could allow a configuration setting that would always prompt the user to override ERDTT, warning that it will reduce the heating and defrost effectiveness, and result in decreased electric range.

These seem like acceptable compromises that would stop the user base from complaining.  It’s a small point, but noteworthy nevertheless.  GM, you’ve got us all hooked on using electricity alone, can’t you help us satisfy that craving by meeting us halfway in some manner?

Volt's 3.3kW On-board Charger.  No Optional Upgrade to 6.6kW for Gen 2?

Volt’s 3.3kW On-board Charger. No Optional Upgrade to 6.6kW for Gen 2?

Optional 6.6kW Charging
I’m not one that would use this much, but an option to purchase a larger 6.6kW charger seems like an easy way to satisfy a larger percentage of consumers. There’s a few reasons why this would be beneficial.

First, let’s go back to the fact that survey after survey says people love the Volt, and their number one request is to have even more electric miles before the gas engine kicks in to drive further.  This craving is despite the fact that the Volt has the greatest EV range of any vehicle in its class, well above the Plug-in Prius and Ford PHEVs.

Allowing for a paid option to upgrade the charger allows people to effectively get more electric range out of the same battery.  A 6.6kW charger would charge the battery quickly enough to get a meaningful amount of EV miles while eating at a restaurant or shopping at a mall… much more so than the designed-primarily-for-overnight-charging 3.3kW charger.

Secondly, a 6.6kW charger allows for more effective use of the thousands of public Level 2 charging stations available today throughout the country.  Nearly all of these charging stations can provide up to 6.6kW of power.  Furthermore, the price to charge is often set assuming a 6.6kW rate.  With a 3.3kW charger, many of these public charging stations become more expensive than the gasoline required to travel the same distance.

According to GM, 50% of Volt Owners use 120V Charging

According to GM, 50% of Volt Owners use 120V Level 1 Charging

GM themselves note from surveys that people charge, on average,  more than once a day.  That suggests to me that they want the ability to gain more electric miles from charging, and an optional 6.6kW charger provides them with that flexibility.

Instead, GM chose to highlight that roughly half of their existing owners only use their slower, Level 1 EVSE that charges at about 1.5kW.  This is an unfortunate example of misinterpreting statistics.  Those owners using the slower charger may be doing so because the faster 3.3kW charging is not a sufficient increase in speed to justify the hassle or cost.  What about the other 50% of owners?

Furthermore, analyzing statistics of existing customers completely ignores the desires of potential customers.  Here again, a slice of the market may avoid the Volt over the lack of a 6.6kW option; an option that, in my opinion, could be easily offered without compromising the vehicle’s design.  The battery is certainly very capable of accepting this charge rate.  It seems ill conceived (and certainly not statistically relevant) to use 50% of  your existing consumer base to justify what 100% of the broader market wants.

So there you have it, my two major gripes with the new 2016 Chevrolet Volt.  Admittedly, they’re small things to pick on, which highlights the good design being put forth.  However, they’re two areas that negatively affect the vehicle’s appeal to a percentage of the potential market share, that could be solved relatively easily.  Given that these items are much less difficult to implement than a brand new dual motor integrated transmission, it seems like an unfortunate oversight.  This “low hanging fruit” would provide even more appeal, further setting the Volt apart from the competition.

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169 Comments on "Op-Ed: Where the 2016 Chevrolet Volt Falls Short"

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Totally agree on the 6.6kw charging. At least make it an option since 6.6kw charging has now become the default standard amongst EVs and public chargers.

Keep in mind that as the EV segment grows and more people look at them people will start to compare specs across different vehicles and GM with its anemic 3.3kw charging on both the Volt AND Spark will not fare well in this regard.

Worldwide sales of the old Volt were not great and it looks like it will be the same for the new Volt.

How profoundly disappointing it will be if they did not provide 6.6kw charging for the gen 2 Volt.

Agree Eric, I still think running a 1.4ltr engine to warm the cabin is ridiculous. a smaller aparatus such as a small gas burner could provide heat faster and in a way more efficient manner usin probably much less gas for the same result.

BUT, you’re using a lot of that energy to put a few kW into the battery while it’s on, right? You can’t really argue that the ICE is being inefficient, when the waste energy is all heat, and you’re using the heat. Any extra liquid hydrocarbon you’re burning than you would be if you had a tiny liquid heater goes into the battery, and you can practically say it goes in at 100% efficiency.

Unless your pack is topped off. I guess I see your point.

Yes Anderlan, if it were possible to turn ERDTT off I would do so for the short trips to the grocery store; otherwise I agree with you.

As a 2011 volt owner forced to have the engine run anytime the temperature is under 27 degrees fahrenheit, I disagree. 1). I’ll add to Eric’s point by saying a very cold engine, if it can be left off, is better off, since while the engine is highly efficient when up to temperature, my volt in very cold weather uses an inordinate amount of gas to bring the engine up to operating temperature. If you know you’re just going out for a short trip, there’s no point heating and cooling the engine unnecessarily, especially if you have free electricity to recharge it with (solar). On to the next point: car chargers.. 2). Supposedly the OEM cost for chargers is from a range of $140 to $220 / 1000 watts. Enlarging the 3300 watt charger to say 6300 watts would therefore cost $660 at most to GM. Instead of the $1780 upgrade on the Nissan leaf to get a bigger charger, GM could charge $900 for it and still make money at it. Those who desparately want it would pay the cash. Myself, The LEaf option is too pricey and I’d suffer along with the 3600 watt basic model. Now an… Read more »

You’re right Bill, being able to turn off the ERDTT for short trips would be nice. Not sure why GM doesn’t do this. I’d like to hear more information from the engineers on this topic.

Not having a 6.6 kw charger is irritating because when I charge in a public station I pay for the time plugged in, not the kWh consumed; meaning that I get half as much for my money as those so equipped. And I also dislike the slow charge rate. But I wonder if a 6.6 kw charger would require a costly TMS upgrade to accommodate owners living in the extremely hot climate. During the summer I can hear the cooling system working away, sometimes aggressively, when the Volt is charging in my hot garage.

Is GM using it to heat the cabin, or Extend the Life of the battery.

I think both issues point out GM’s ultra-conservative target design life of the battery. GM knows some owners will run this car for 20 years.

Well, it’s a system of tradeoffs. Yes, people want more range, but what if the new Volt had NOT offered 50 mile AER but instead stuck with 40/42 miles and reduced the price an additional $3k? Not saying that’d be the cost/tradeoff, but while we love our volt and 50 mile AER would increase our all electric usage from about 85% to well over 90% of our miles… is that worth a large chunk of cash that I could throw into more solar panels, or whatever?

The plug in hybrid concept is brilliant, and IMO only GM has met the sweet spot of enough AER (with 40 miles). But at some point, you call a spade a spade and get an EV. 40AER is worth it. 50 MAY be worth it. 60 is debatable. 80 would be financial folly. Not sure where the tradeoff really lies. Hopefully GM does.

50 miles of range in the summer will turn into 30 miles in the winter (in Michigan)

Mmmmm, valid point.

But it may also turn into 60 or more miles AER in summer

You forgot size. The Volt has crappy head-room for us tall folk and it’s pretty small if you’re going on a road trip of any sort. If it had another inch or so of head room I’d already own one. Hopefully the Malibu will get a plug sooner rather than later.


You “tall” folk need to be more concerned about the weather up there.

That is not a problem with the Volt, that is a problem with GM not offering more Voltect based vehicles.

Yes, this point and a WAGON Version.

When did GM forget about Small Business sales?????

Agreed, Sam. While I would like to have 6.6 kW charge rate and a slightly lower ERDTT or a manual over ride, cramped back seats are why my first Volt will be my last one. It isn’t just a compact car, it is a smallish compact car when it comes to the back seats.

I was going to point out the same thing. The next gen Volt was a good chance to improve interior and cargo room, but they completely missed that. While more range will help sales, as a car in it’s class it’s still a cramped car now with 4.5 seats (not quite 5 seats).

Part of this is limited by having an engine, but if they just ditch their tunnel pack, they can at least have a real 5th seat.

Complaining about the amount of space in the Volt completely ignores the actual sales statistics for gas cars. Small and midsize cars outsell Large Cars by a ten to one ratio.

People always complain about space. Every car board for every brand all complain about space. But when car makers make bigger cars, the sales numbers of their large cars are crap.

The size of the Volt matches what people are actually buying in many, many brands of cars.

Some day it will be good for there to be a Volt-based CUV for folks who want a bigger vehicle. But for now, GM has a viable vehicle, and they need more sales numbers before they can even think about diluting their own sales with too many variants.

The sales rate would, I believe go up drastically, if they were to offer the Voltec tech. in other types of vehicles, like a CUV and their midsized truck. That increase in sales would cover, and most likely exceed, the costs of additional development and construction.

Yeah, that is nitpicking. I can’t blame them for using the liquid fuel for heating and using the battery to drive. And the 3.3 KW charger probably reduces the cost a little but a 6.6 KW charger would be a nice option.

I disagree with all of this. At least from the perspective of it hurting mass-market sales, anyway. Most consumers would be completely unaware of these issues. Those would be the last things they’d be thinking about when at the dealership signing paperwork.

Your point of view have some issues.

This is a vehicle selling @ some $34K MSRP, on the road close to $38K. That’s for the base model, which dealership usually don’t have. You will probably see a $40K vehicle in the showroom.

THAT’S THE FIRST THING CONSUMER WILL SEE – A $38K sticker + all fees and taxes.

(Ignore the buying and actually paying step at this point, as it’s too early.)

In this date and age, I don’t believe that people will NOT research on a vehicle online for this price range.

Let alone the fact that, those who actually research for a clean/green technology vehicle, which are a small portion of the general public. Then they see, ok, I’ve to fill in the gas tank, and also plug in, and in all these modes, the vehicle sometime use gas, sometimes use electricity…

Now you see why a BEV is much easier to sell than a plug-in hybrid.

No way.

Yeah.. but your argument still centers around a niche vehicle. We’re talking about mass-market. That was the whole point of the article, right? Mass-market consumers do not research the stuff the buy. They barely know anything about it. They buy based on what a commercial tells them, or a salesman, or a friend, etc.

Don’t underestimate the buying “knowledge” of the mass market, especially with apps on almost every smart phones nowadays.

More importantly:

“I don’t believe that people will NOT research on a vehicle online for this price range.”


Agreed. My state sales tax loves these high sticker prices.

Can the Volt electric pre-heat/cool while plugged in?

Volt 1 could, and since the revamp of the phone app, I really doubt they’d pull the feature for Volt 2. What it lacks is an ability to set the temp. It only activates where it was last set.

It can, but there’s an issue. The 3.3/3.6 charge rate can’t keep up with the draw. If you think your going to precondition and recharge you’ve lost most all of the benefit of preconditioning. Not sure what GM was thinking here????

Bypass ERDTT


Quote : “I went with the 47k ohm resistor in the OAT sensor seems to put the temps up 15 F when it’s 30 F outside”

Fakes out the temperature sensor to cause Volt to believe it’s warmer than it really is, effectively making ERDTT less often

“Allowing for a paid option to upgrade the charger allows people to effectively get more electric range out of the same battery. A 6.6kW charger would charge the battery quickly enough to get a meaningful amount of EV miles while eating at a restaurant or shopping at a mall… much more so than the designed-primarily-for-overnight-charging 3.3kW charger”.
Very good point, Eric!
The same applies for a DC fast charge option. On a long trip, when you stop to eat you could return to a fully charged car with another 50 miles of quiet electric driving ahead – especially attractive when you stop less than 50 miles from home.

Personally, I test drove the Volt and decided to buy a Smart ED for my commute to work because I was unlikely to ever need the gas engine backup, and so far I’ve been right after 1.5 years and 10000 km.

However, to replace our second vehicle used for family road trips, I do need a long distance vehicle, but there again, the Volt was too small for our family as it has no head room for teenagers and their friends.

I don’t understand why the Volt technology wasn’t put in an SUV, it would have sold out!!


You’re absolutely right. Look at how well the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has sold internationally.

There is the Malibu hybrid coming out. But, not as ideal as the Volt. And there’s no wagon there either.

Yep. The plug-in SUV/CUV market has been ignored too much.

But we do have Model X on the way. The Outlander PHEV eventually. BMW will be making a plug-in SUV (but its battery will be too small).

Actually, it’s not being forgotten – to a degree – in the US.

There “WAS” the RAV4 EV. TWICE.

I guess that it is definitely a good idea to have a plug-in “van” (including C/SUV). Heck, I am drooling for the e-NV200, 7 seats. But I guess the real problem with the van is that the infrastructure is really lacking at this point for the long trips, and that include Tesla too, especially since the assumption here is that these vehicles are driven for road trip. If you take that into account, then the benefit can be debatable, especially with the prices of vans in the US, making them financially not as feasible as, say, a high fuel mileage engine, or a diesel engine. Don’t get me wrong, I do love to have those vehicles with a plug!

The eNV seats max 5 people.

It’s pretty obvious.
GM must be battery-production constrained on the Volt (more so than other PHEVs, given the larger battery pack). _For now_, they can sell all the Voltecs they can make without expanding into other form factors (CUV, sporty coupé etc.), so it’s not economic to offer more.

They’re not stupid, and are designing for future true mass production (the spark EV has the same motor as the Volt; the Malibu reuses much of Voltec, as does the new Cadillac) , but that’ll have to wait for battery production to catch up.
Even if the market demanded it, they can’t produce 100Ks of the cars anytime in the 2-3 years.

I think they are still trying to prove the value of Voltec. Once GM is satisfied that they’ve perfected it, I’d think we’d see it on more types of vehicles. Volt 1 was a nice proof of concept, but due to a lot of things both in GMs control and outside (like politics) it was a sales flop. Hopefully Volt 2.0 will be a lot more successful. We’ve admired the concept of the Volt 1.0 but didn’t feel it was the right car for us. But 2.0 is now on our “probably going to buy” list now. The 50 EV range is just about perfect for us. I do wish they’d add the faster charging. I think as DC fast chargers become more prevalent that Volt will have to adopt that capability. But the thing I sense from the Volt team at GM is that they always keep the big picture in mind. I think they tend to over-engineer things a bit, like Apple tends to do. It’s bad and good. It’s bad when you want faster innovation and bigger improvements, but it’s good because the product you get is exceptionally well-done. There’s undoubtedly a sound reason that they didn’t… Read more »

Mitsubishi is selling such a vehicle in the Australian market, but not the U.S.


Makes you wonder if GM might want to apply their Volt technology to a SUV in the future.

The main issue with the Volt is that its too small and cramped for a family, even for some individuals. Make it taller, more headroom, move the battery out of the middle of the cabin, make a real 5th seat.

Make it look less like a fleet car. Quick charging, quick charging, quick charging. Such a huge bummer to have more range and no quick charging. 6.6kW charger would be nice, but QC better. Faster acceleration. Now that the ELR goes faster, we know the Volt can too. Stupid we don’t at least have the option. Did I mention boring fleet car looks? I think that’s a GM problem across the board, except for the ridiculously over-scooped Corvette.

Faster and AWD. It would be so easy to add a second electric motor in back.

As I understand it DC Quick Charging is very unlikely to be placed in most people’s homes. The inverter/chargers are apparently quite loud and quite expensive. I think they cost something like $7,000 to $10,000 and are quite large. But it would be very nice to have the ability to DC quick charge with public infrastructure if and when those become more common.

“analyzing statistics of existing customers completely ignores the desires of potential customers. Here again, a slice of the market may avoid the Volt over the lack of a 6.6kW option”.
Amen to that.
I was very keen on the Volt after the test drive. The main reasons I decided not to buy were the lack of fast charging & the low coupe roofline which not only limits rear headroom, it makes it impractically difficult for elderly relatives to get in.
GM really needs to get the Voltec drivetrain into a wider range of body styles.

I would bypass both those suggestions and just ask they take the power train technology and size it up for an SUV or minivan (Anything with 7 seats). There is a reason why Europe is clamoring for the Mitsubishi plug in SUV and not the i-miev. GMC Arcadia VOLTEC for $45K would sell amazingly. You might get 25 AER but that’s enough.

Agreed and for sure at least the standard 5 seats.

If sports cars can allow you to fully disable the stability control systems the Volt should allow users to disable the ERDTT function. Even if the system resets every time the car is shut-off it would give owners something else to complain about.

I suspect the Volt will offer the OBC from the Bolt as optional equipment. There is no good reason to have L2 be minimized as a customer feature. L1 will always be fine for overnight charging, but versatility shouldn’t be ignored.

I completely disagree with both of these points. The ERDTT argument is similar to complaints about the Volt running in parallel-hybrid mode (when on gas) instead of serial-hybrid mode; they would like to be able to say that the engine isn’t connected to the wheels, even when that would reduce efficiency. So let’s talk real numbers: the Volt is required to burn through one tank of gas per year, even if your driving would otherwise entirely be electric. Does ERDTT burn through an entire tank of gas in one winter? If not, this would seem to be a moot point. 6.6kW charging is a similar example. Commercial charging rates make non-free L2 charging significantly more expensive (per mile) than gasoline, so in essence Volt owners would be paying more for the opportunity to pay more. And since the car would need to be designed around accommodating 6.6kW charging (including thermal management for this higher wattage), that means that all Volt owners would have increased costs… even the ones who didn’t want 6.6kW charging. Sorry, I don’t agree with either of the premises in this article. I’ve been on record saying that GM should not have increased the AER in Volt… Read more »

Slightly off-topic, but I haven’t seen anyone mention the ‘Volt-lite’ that was being widely discussed before the 2016 was officially unveiled.

I wonder if GM still plans to sell a de-contented version of the Volt with less AER, less features and a lower price point, which would address one of the biggest issues mentioned in these comments – PRICE.

Although we can debate our relative preferences for or against the features mentioned in this article, I don’t think anyone would argue the point that price is the single largest hurdle impeding mass-market adoption of Volt (and related technologies).

Malibu hybrid, albeit sans plug.

I think a decontented, weaker version of the Volt at a lower price would be a mistake. Volt is still in its launch state, really. Volt 1.0 got ham-stringed by politics. Price was also a big factor. But the biggest problem was public perception. People have a LOT of bad ideas about it, thanks to a certain cable news network. They think the Volt is a rollerskate, that it bursts into flames in a crash, that it only has a 31 mile range and a lot of other garbage about it. With Volt 2.0 GM must build the brand’s reputation. It needs the reputation of the car of the future you own today. It needs to have a fun, cool, reliable, safe reputation. The image is actually more important that the profit at this point. Volt has always been a long-game. If they can build the reputation, they will get the sales. If they get some sales and reputation, they can replicate it to more models. Volt 2.0 is a reclamation project at this point. I wish them a lot of luck. It looks like they have a great product. Now they just need to do a better job of… Read more »

Voltec Cruze anyone?

I think GM is missing that a lot of the most vocal Volt enthusiasts want the car to be an EV…with a range extender, not a plug-in hybrid.

This distinction is important because it means that the brand’s ambassadors will cherish anything that gets them more EV miles in a given day.

Volt enthusiasts are who sell the most cars, so appeasing their wishes moves more cars, even if *those* customers won’t often make use of what gets the ambassadors’ blood pumping.

Furthermore, bowing to the lowest common denominator in regards to charge speed or engine cycling means that only 50% of the user base will be fully satisfied. Amending these design choices to appease the pickier group won’t alienate those that don’t care, because those people will still have the option of operating the vehicle the way they always have.

Except that it undoubtedly carries costs, both in money and in battery wear and tear. They need to balance all the factors, which is what I suspect they’ve done.

Totally agree on the 6.6 charger… why not 7.2… or better yet 6.6 plus CCS Combo DC Quick charge. A Volt could hook up get 20 to 30 electric miles in 10 to 15 minutes and off to the next locale. Seems a no brainer.
On the heater/defroster thing… if it is federal law… how come my LEAF doesn’t automagically force the defroster to heat up when I start it. That argument seems silly. A better tech approach would be to strip heat and electrically circulate and pre heat the engine coolant when done charging but still on dock power.

A DC quick charger would be completely irrelevant.
In daily driving, 6.6kW L2 chargers at shopping malls etc. are certainly enough. At home or work, even L1.
That leaves just long trips. Suppose you could add 30mi range in 10min as you suggest (sounds reasonable, as full pack AER probably drops from 50mi to 40mi at freeway speeds with mild airconditioning/heating, and we’re talking about charging from 10-20% to 80-90% SoC).
Noone is going to make 6 such stops on a 200mi trip (which would require 7 30mi segments) — that’s ridiculous.
On such a trip people typically make one or two stops.
Let alone a full day’s 400mi drive, which would require 13 stops…
Even if you would be willing to make that many stops, DC chargers are very expensive; no way their networks will be dense enough for one every 30mi. 100 or 150mi is more like it, once there are 200mi AER range cars.

The Volt has a different solution for long trips: It’s called “use the ICE”.

Eric – you sure go about self-promotion to gain a position as Volt rep. in a strange way! To point out Volt’s shortcomings in lieu of it’s absolute uniqueness in a sea of compliance-PHEVs with batteries stuffed in trunk or spare tire hole… I think is uncalled-for. On another website today I responded to Hyundai’s PHEV Sonata vs. Volt, Fusion, C-Max Energis and Accord PHEV. Volt is a hatchback and that detail gets lost in the fog – always – with Volt. People set their sites on EV-abilities and forget versatility and how a car fits into a household as – a tool. Bottom-line, a car is a tool, and you buy it for what it can do for you. Hatches are unpopular in the USA, go figure. While everyone leaps on the compact CUV or 3-row, midsize CUV bandwagon, look at those vehicle’s stowage area. Here’s a hint: It’s tiny! Volt and Prius went hatch format for aerodynamics and it just works. The hatch shape allows air to flow nicely over the car and exit more cleanly than a high station wagon does with all it’s mass back there. Untold benefit is that capacious rear stowage area that easily… Read more »

Here’s the Cruze for those who haven’t seen it yet.

***mod edit (Jay Cole)***
embedded picture to comment
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Thanks Jay! 🙂

No problemo my friend. Anytime you want to put up a pic or video, just drop the link code in and someone will around to convert/embed it quickly for you…well, between the hours of 6am and 2am (ET) anyway.

If the Volt wasn’t a hatchback I flat out wouldn’t have bought it.

Spider-Dan, right on mark about the Volt “required to burn through one tank per year”. Leaf’s have to go all electric with 6.6 public charging, and often no winter heat (to save EV range). The Volt isn’t pure EV, though it can up to 95% or so EV. I think GM got it right on the price/cost tradeoff; the price will come down, to $30k range next year as the new model year wears off a little. With $7500 fed rebate, that’s a steal. No need for GM to cheapen fantastic technology anymore than that.

A-Pillar guy, myself. I think thinning it down, for safety, trumps the other two. I’ve had no fewer than three instances where a pedestrian was in my pillar, at an intersection, where I subsequently pulled out to reveal an angry face.

I wouldn’t hesitate to try SmartElectric ‘s solution to ERDTLT (posted above). I think with this mod PHEV Chevy owners have PHEV BMW owners beat. We can turn ours off, where they can’t get theirs on (i3 drain, before REx).

My major gripe with Volt is it’s form factor. Get it into a SUV/CUV. That is where you need PHEVs – there are BEVs to take care of compact smallish car segment.

I sortof agree.

They should have both. Same drivetrain, Volt get 50 mile AER and faster 0 – 60. VoltUV gets 30 – 35 mile AER and slower 0 -60.

I totally disagree. Read my post just above yours and give it food-for-thought. First, you have to actually look or own one of those CUVs to see my point.

Where I agree with you is public perception. Americans dig CUVs and SUVs and that is due to marketing and vanity. The “Sport” in SUV gives off the impression you’re sporty in one of those high station wagons. They push more air, get horrible MPG next to sedans and don’t have the practicality some hatches do.

Same goes for “mountain bike”, or “smartphone”. It’s what’s in a name that sells sells sells products. Most own a mountain bike and can ‘t remember the last time they took it off road. Most own a smartphone but realize it’s no computer. These labels are responsible for public mindset and thus, sales.

I have to add one more item to this list, the starting MSRP.

I think it was a big mistake not to have landed with an $29,999 starting MSRP even if it was missing some extra content. GM needs more people to test drive and understand why it really is a $35k – $40k car.

GM touted that they would be able to take $10k (or more) out of the cost of the Volt in Gen 2. We should have seen that on the sticker.

For every car, each redesign usually gets more expensive. Exceptions are rare. GM probably quoted $10K off the (otherwise higher) 2016 price.

Yes on the 6.6 kw option. If cost-cutting is indeed the impetus ( I also believe it’s GM’s fears of owner’s garage wiring )…Then make it an optional feature that can be set each time on the center touchscreen ( put lawyer-speak on their like they do with nav ) to protect GM from any liability.

Also – nix the 1.5kw default they socked the 2013s on, with!

The Gen2 Volt uses GPS location to remember your charging rate.

As I understand they will remember ONE LOCATION. Which is good for most people.

“Where Volt Falls Short” seems strong in my opinion.

These are niggles. Niggles aren’t deal-breakers.

I do not earnestly believe either of these issues you brought up are deal breakers. The number one buying impetus: 50+ miles electric range and 41MPG after.

As a Volt owner myself I agree on both areas pointed out.

The ERDTT should be have a setting for the user to turn off completely.

The car should have 6.6kw charging, plain and simple. “How long does it take to charge the battery?” is one of the first question prospective buyers ask. Would be nice to say 2hrs.

As a previous Volt owner I agree with you on both of these points.

GM also has fallen short with the size of the Volt. Many families have two cars like myself. I need one car for commuting around town, and another for commuting and road trips. I want the road trip car to be large enough for my family, dog, and gear. A Volt does not cut it. So as a result, a small EV (Leaf, i3, etc) makes more sense for my commuter car with a larger ICE car for our second. A SUV or Wagon based Volt would fit the bill.

How about heated strips to clear the windshield and allow users to disable ERDTT? The Jeep Cherokee has them.


Hmmmm. Very cool!…Er hot…er warm…

The one point I would make about the ERDTT issue is that it highlights a weakness or unwillingness of traditional car companies to listen to customer feedback. To the best of my knowledge this issue could be addressed with a software update, but only Tesla seems to understand that customers appreciate/deserve tweeks and improvements to the existing product.

If you need any more evidence of this just realize that the additional drive mode of the 2013 and later Volts is not offered to owners of the earlier model years. While this is a small gripe. I think GM could have generated some goodwill with existing customers by offer software updates.

GM actually listened to customers a lot when they designed Gen2. There have been numerous articles on this. Regarding upgrading older vehicles, most of it had to do with installing new hardware. Telsa does not offer upgrades to older models that do not have the correct hardware.

Not entirely true kdawg. Any Tesla can be upgraded at the service center to dual chargers (20kw total) and even though they don’t advertise this–Model S can have their battery changed out to the larger size. Seats are also upgradeable.

I was mainly referring to the recent autopilot upgrade that those w/out sensors will not get.

I can’t see what extra hardware is needed to make an option to disable ERDTT. This isn’t autonomous driving, where sensors are required to make the feature work.

If they give you the option to set it to 15F, it should be just another few lines of code to disable it. They simply choose not to.

The ERDTT is not related to the upgrading old models comment. ERDTT cannot be disabled due to Federal law. Even the Gen2 will have ERDTT.

I think the only thing being highlighted is the stupidity of some internet commentators. If there are state or federal regulations you have to follow them. Period. It’s not an issue of companies refusing “to listen to customer feedback”.

Next you’ll be complaining that Tesla hasn’t listened to customer feedback because it has kept the side view mirrors.

I think you’ve hit upon a feature that the Volt 2.0 lacks but needs. Consumers are used to the idea that their gadgets need software updates. Our phones, tablets, computers and more recently our TVs all update themselves periodically with the latest software update. With car makers you have to take your car into a dealer to have it done, which is never pleasant. Also you never know when an update comes out and they typically won’t do it unless you ask. The exception is Tesla which does OTA (over the air) updates. GM ought to enable the Volt to do OTA updates. They could make it so that they download only when connected to your home wifi-network while plugged into the wall. They will probably never do this because the dealers would have a conniption fit because they want every opportunity to nickel and dime you. But it is a great feature for Tesla and would be greatly appreciated by the kind of people who look at the Volt as a gadget.

I’m not understanding this at all:

“GM argues they need this mode to satisfy NHTSA rules and regulations. A vocal minority argue that the mode causes them to burn gasoline when they still have battery available. Neither side will budge.”

How stupid is this? Either the regulations require it or they don’t. If they do it’s not an argument. GM has to comply. A decent journalist would do a little research and provide an answer.

How hard can this be?

I would like to know what specific NHTSA regulation requires them to use genset waste heat to provide defrosting capability- and why the Volt is any different than a LEAF or Soul EV or Spark EV or iMiEV, etc…

It’s the regulation that requires vehicles equipped with an engine be able to defrost windows under certain conditions within a specified time period. It doesn’t apply to BEVs because they don’t have an engine.

My point is any journalist worth anything would have tracked this down when writing an article on the issue. Why should you have to find it? It should have been the central point of the article.

The i3 REx does not have a ERDTT mode. Even the Ford Energi twins don’t have a set ERDTT temp….engine turns on based on some engine coolant temp, or when it’s below 0 degrees F. ERDTT should be user disable-able.

Oops, meant to say the ERDTT temp is a lot lower.

I completely agree with all points- but the reason you don’t see these issues addressed is not because customers aren’t demanding it- it’s because there’s no real competition against the Volt, and there’s still a mindset within GM to stick with the old way of developing a car. I guarantee that if Ford released a revised CMAX Energi or Fusion Energi with 50 miles of range, an electrically dominant drivetrain, an option to disable ERDTT, and a 6.6kW charger, we would see all these features implemented on the Volt. Also, I agree with Mike that GM is going backwards into the future by not offering OTA software updates like Tesla is. If you don’t want residual value of these cars to plummet (as they are), you need to treat these cars like a cell phone and offer free updates to keep them relevant. It’s not a huge undertaking to roll out these updates. If a $35 Android phone on Net10 Wireless can get OTA updates to improve the users experience month after month, why can’t GM with a $35,000 car? The only thing we can hope for is that the new Android car infotainment systems will inspire automakers to take… Read more »

“there’s still a mindset within GM to stick with the old way of developing a car.”

I don’t think that’s true. If you read anything about how this care was developed, it all says that they threw out most of the rules and bureaucracy to develop Volt. The speed with which this thing was created is pretty astounding for a major auto company and speaks to their eagerness to embrace change.

I agree with the article that 6.6 charging is a very important option. There is very real, but quiet competition for the Volt from the Ford Energi products (see the sales statistics for the Fusion and C-Max on this site). I test drove the Volt but chose to buy C-Max Energi. It was a small CUV, and its headroom is considerably better than the Volt (and the best of any car that I have owned). Significantly, the Energi allows me to charge at 6.6 twice a day using a 40 amp Clipper Creek EVSE, so that my operational electric range is about the same as the 50 miles that will become available on the 2016 Volt. (I average 21 miles per charge +10 to 30% on regen.) When I initially charged at 3.3 with the OEM charge cord, I burned very little fossil fuel. Charging at 6.6, I burn virtually no fossil fuel.

Big FAT Lier

Ford C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi only charges at 3.3kW max.

Ford Focus Electric is the ONLY one from Ford charges at 6.6kW.

I stand corrected. The Ford C-Max Energi only charges at 3.3v. However, I believe that everything else that I said is accurate. I use a Clipper Creek Level 2 HCS 40 EVSE that allows me to charge multiple times a day, rather than the Level 1 OEM cord.

Your mother should wash your mouth out with soap. You shouldn’t be calling people liars. You should also learn to spell.

Just to be clear, you know I love you Eric.

I completely agree with one point – that it was weird of GM to look to existing Volt owners for advice on improvements, and not the 99+% of people who don’t yet drive anything with a plug. And along those lines, I disagree with your other two points. Mass market buyers are dissuaded by things like the higher purchase price and the lack of a 5th seat. They’ve addressed both, at least to a certain degree. I think ERDTT is only bothering a tiny fraction of the EXISTING owners, and the rest of the world would hardly care. 6.6kW charger would be really nice – it does turn those opportunity charges into something really worthwhile – but I think the basics (overnight charge for daily EV commuting, worry-free gas mode driving for everything else) is enough to gain a lot of market share, provided ongoing price reductions and ramped up marketing.

Does anyone make a nice inexpensive electrically powered heat pump system yet? That seems like it would be the most efficient way to heat & cool EVs. But no one does it?

The Soul EV uses a heat pump for cooling/heating, and also has modes for heating/cooling only the occupied parts of the car.

I not only agree, I spoke with my wallet. Two years ago, my Volt was rear-ended by a truck while I was stopped at a red light. It was a total loss. Instead of replacing my beloved Volt with another one, I opted for a 2013 Leaf. ERDTT and the 3.3kW were major factors in my decision. Had I been able to recharge the Volt in Sub-2 hours at 6.6kW and had the option to disable ERDTT, I would have stuck with the Volt.

If a Leaf met your mileage needs, why’d you buy a Volt in the first place?

Agreed on both points. GM touted how they listened to current owners in designing next gen, but only when it was what they wanted to hear. The ‘most people use L1’ angle is really not useful at all. It’s just simple observations. Did they ask WHY? did they ask if people would want faster charging? Perhaps an optional upgrade? No. There are so many reasons why one would use L1 exclusively. Namely, they have a lease and don’t want to put extra money into it if its not worth it. With the weak 3.3 charging, you get about 2.5x the max charge rate of L1. But with a 6.6, you’re now 5x faster. That is a significant improvement and maybe worth the $500 to buy an L2 unit. But if its not offered, most won’t bite. Its a case of ‘if you build it, they will come’. You can’t just say that no one uses L2, so its not important. You have to look at all the details and ask the right questions. As for the ERDTT, it is the stupidest thing, ever. Bad for the engine, bad for fuel efficiency, bad for emissions (which are exponentially higher with a… Read more »
I think putting ERDTT on this level of concern for people buying the car is ludicrous. NOBODY who hasn’t owned a Volt is even going to know a damned thing about this. It will not crack the top 50 concerns a buyer might have. The other thing is that this could be addressed in software. For all we know, it has been. Time will tell. I wouldn’t put it in the same class as the charging issue or any other issue people might have. The thick pillars are more of an issue. The lack of space for adults in the back is more of an issue. Add to it, I’m from California, so the problem will never be a factor as it never gets below the temperature threshold. That said, this isn’t about me. And I do think they should make it an option in software for the user to turn off the feature. If I were GM, I would also seek a wavier from the rule (or a rule change to relate to modern technology) to say that the vehicle must be able to defrost the window, but not specify the method. The method (engine or electric) would seem… Read more »

Oddly, I think it is all about you – in a way. 40% of all Volt sales are in California, so for nearly half of Volt’s market, it’s a non-issue right off the bat.

“I think putting ERDTT on this level of concern for people buying the car is ludicrous. NOBODY who hasn’t owned a Volt is even going to know a damned thing about this.”

You’re right. And how many of the new customers are going to be angered about this ‘feature’ they had no idea about until after they’d dropped $35k on a car with no way out?
Just look at how many early adopters of gen1 don’t like it. And how many others DID know about it, and passed on the car? We’ll never know. But if anyone did a test drive in the winter, I wouldn’t be surprised to see much lower sales after seeing it operate this way, especially from those who were hoping for a “green” car.
If they want to make this a mass market car, it’s going to reach far more people than California (where they would never know this was even a thing). And suddenly you’ll see many more of this so-called ‘vocal minority’. What was hundreds or thousands complaining for gen1 may be tens or hundreds of thousands for gen2, if it is a successful vehicle in sales.

Why wouldn’t these same people be furious that the engine has to turn on every 6 weeks, even if you never run out of range?

Why wouldn’t these same people be upset that the Volt MUST burn through a full tank of gas every year, even if you only drive around town?

These kind of arguments (ERDTT, 6.6kW) are thinly-veiled BEV purist points. People who absolutely do not want to use gasoline ever (for reasons outside of vehicle efficiency) should be shopping for a BEV instead.

What I truly don’t understand about the 2016 Volt is that Chevrolet had an amazing opportunity to silence its critics by making the Volt a premier vehicle from the base model to the fully-loaded upper trim. But even though the base model will start at $33,995 and the upper level LTZ version will start at $38,345, you still can’t get automatic memory seats, cooled front seats, adaptive cruise control, or any number of features found on a similarly-priced Ford Fusion Energi Titanium. Sure the 2016 Volt will go 46-55 miles on a single charge and not require any engine assistance to accelerate confidently at any speed up to 100 mph (unlike the Fusion Energi, which is limp without the gas engine assist at higher speeds), but why couldn’t Chevrolet have also included the option to also add some of the impressive features we find on Fords, Buicks, Nissans, and other competitors? Does Chevrolet really think that 50 EV miles alone is enough to sell a car with manual seats and basic cruise control? If the Volt had a third trim level (say, a Volt Platinum, to borrow Cadillac’s nomenclature) that included memory seats, cooled seats, adaptive cruise, etc. and priced… Read more »

Uh . . . have you heard about the Cadillac CT6 PHEV?

@Gorgon – “Does Chevrolet really think that 50 EV miles alone is enough to sell a car with manual seats and basic cruise control?” __________________________________________________________________________________________ In a word – Yes! Oh Yes! Affirmative. That’s right. Volt is about electric range and MPG. That’s the focus of engineering, and that’s the focus of marketing. You seem displeased with the perks of sporty styling, onboard wireless cellphone charger and ambient lighting on the LTZ. Power seats and gizmos add weight and cost, two things that were job #1 to reduce. Want back seat room? Buy a Cruze diesel or hybrid ( if and when they offer it ). Want a huge car? Buy the Malibu hybrid with Volt tech. Want a luxury boat? Buy the CT-6 PHEV. Toyota is a good model because they literally invented the electrically-assisted eco machine. I bought the best Prius they made, all options, leather and “Touring Edition” with larger wheels, “stiffer Euro suspension” top nav and bigger rear spoiler. It has manual seats and rather cheap-ish interior components. That made sense to me because lightness means efficiency. For and eco car, it’s all about tradeoffs. Maybe non-carguys don’t understand you cannot have it all. Buy a… Read more »

You don’t seem to know the cost of lithium batteries. There has been volumes of talk about energy density rising and cost sinking…which is true, it’s just happening slower than some expect. Volume sales will speed the affordability of the lithium battery pack. Today – a big, nice battery pack that gets you 50 miles down the road is gonna cost ya, buddy.

You want gizmos? That may be your priority. Most here have a different set of values – to get off oil and all that means. If gizmos are number one for you, and getting off oil, or saving money on gasoline is not tops on your list – go ahead and buy your Fusion or C-Max Energi and stop bashing Volt for not having an electronic cupholder.

What a piddly little improvement General Motors made on this car. 50 miles ! ? What a joke. Here Tesla has been getting 260 to 270 for years, has given their secrets away for anyone who wants to see them, and GM can’t even make a car that gets 100 miles of range. Disgraceful.

If GM were willing to sell a $90,000 BEV, I’m sure they could give you 250 miles of range, too.

Quite ludicrous to compare the range of a car that costs over twice as much.

Plus, with the Volt you’re not tied to the charging network or the time needed to charge up at one.

6.6kw only applies to a very small number of days days a year; for folks trying to game the Volt2 as a 100% EV, but not quite making it. For example, you drive your volt2 70 miles in one day, and you charged at a public charging station for 1 hour over lunch, getting only 10 miles of charge instead of 20 miles of charge, and wound up burning 1/4 gallons of gas … The Volt2 is a car that by design has to burn through almost a gallon a month minimum due to FMM/EMM.

Agree with these two items. Both ERDTT changes and faster charging should be made available in future Gen 2 model years.

As a former 2012 Volt owner, i fully agree with Eric on these 2 points and I must add, I have been disappointed to read they have not been fully addressed (3.8kw) with the 2.0, I still hope they’ll fix them sooner than later.

When I look at the i3, it begins to be more attractive to me: EV+Rex option, 7.4kW onboard charger + CCS for DC quick charge… and no ERDTT.

If you want to avoid using gas at all costs, the i3 REx is a great car to buy. Because when the i3 REx using gas, it is at best tediously annoying and at worst outright dangerous.

If you really want a faster charger because you want to drive more electric miles then perhaps you should be looking at a pure battery EV instead.

I’m fine with how the engine operates and the charger capacity with my 2014 but I won’t trade until I see ventilated seats and adaptive cruise control. Both features on the Ford Fusion.

6.6 kW charging will get Volts some respect at public EVSEs.

Electrons are uttuerly inefficient as heating fuel. It’s just silly to burn fossile fuel to convert it to electricity and then burn it again to convert it back to heat. True, you could stock electrons from solar panels, but most of them still come from the grid. I suspect the vocal minorities are insisting on all electric just out of vanity regardless of the efficiency.

Well you just convinced me not to even consider buying a 2016 volt. Thank you for pointing out these two significant and easily avoidable inefficiencies built into the car. Seems like GM is so large that it is still incapable of responding to obvious messages from potential buyers. One more reason to go with TESLA.

Don’t let the chatter here stop you from doing your own objective analysis.

I know these issues bring out alot of emotion on both sides of the issue.

For whatever reason, GM does not like to offer options on low volume cars. I can’t think of a problem offering 2 different charger modules, so perhaps offering 2 of the same is a complication when ordering 2 (the 2 units cost more than twice what 1 – 3.6 kw unit working alone would be, and they don’t get as good a price on the 3.6’s if they only order 1/2 of them).

The engine running at a high temperature I have a problem with. If it is legal to run it at 14 degrees, why force me to endure it at 26?

So anyway, apparently my 2011 volt and ’14 ELR are absolutely identical on these two issues. I don’t have much of a charging history yet with the ELR (I’ve only had it about 26 hours), but I can tell it takes longer to charge, so they must have opened up the battery by 1 or 2 kwh or so.

Is anyone offering a kit or aftermarket reworking of the standard 3.3kW charger to a 6.6k charger?

If GM keeps this idea up that charging only occurs overnight in residential areas, eventually there is going to be a big after market opportunity to take advantage of potential 38km/hr top up charging, instead of why bother charging at 1/2 the rate.

Malcolm, I believe GM was unduly influenced by Utility groups here desiring that charging in general take place over the entire nightime period (to make the car the most ‘grid friendly’. While I believe a 6-7 kw charger option on the car would have at least a moderate amount of takers, for me its not that big of an issue, and I’d be perfectly satisfied if the car only had its ‘standard’ charging rate in the states of 0,9 kw. So with my ELR and VOlt, both can charge up to 3,3 kw, but since I only have one EVSE the maximum rate I can charge at home is 3,3 plus 1,3 for a total of 4,6 kw to both batteries simultaneously (around 5,0 kw including wiring heating losses). That is perfectly fast enough for me. I don’t have huge number of places to publically charge, and there are very few workplace charger points in my area, nor that many public places in general. Out west in the states apparently they have a huge infrastructure build out, what with 1000 charging points in Kansas City alone. There isn’t even ONE level 2 charging point on the New York State Thruway… Read more »

The only news I’ve heard from Brian is that the thruway downstate (doesn’t affect me at all, since even when traveling there Its much faster from where I am to take rt 17) is installing 4 L3 CCS, and not L2’s at all.

But there isn’t much here in the BUffalo Area anyway, except the 1/2 of the stations that National Grid paid for. Its probably made a difference in this area more than any other since there would be so little otherwise.