EcoModder Forum Looking to ecomod my Chevrolet Volt (extend its electric range)

Register Now
 Remember

EcoModding Lurker

Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Michigan
Posts: 34
Thanks: 1
Thanked 26 Times in 17 Posts
Quote:
 Originally Posted by ocnorb Took delivery on Saturday. My commute is 35 miles or so round trip, but I've carpooled with my wife one day and I went for a drive on Sunday so its about 110 miles since Saturday. On Monday I left home with 44 miles on battery, arrived at work showing 27 miles of battery left. Long hill out of work had me back up to 30 miles of battery when I hit the highway! Awesome regen. We then drove across town to have dinner and pulled back into our driveway with 1 mile left. Also it was 100 F outside according to my dash display so A/C was using more battery than usual.
The range indication, aka, guess-o-meter, is an algorithm that uses a bunch of factors, like outside temperature and recent driving history to calculate an expected range. It is easily fooled and gets somewhat confused if the engine is used. Suddenly going into or coming out of hills, changing winds and such also lead to inaccurate calculations. On the energy display, the kW-hr used since last full charge is often more useful.

 Today Popular topics Other popular topics in this forum... View the most popular topics in this subforum by views or by posts
EcoModding Lurker

Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Michigan
Posts: 34
Thanks: 1
Thanked 26 Times in 17 Posts
Quote:
 Originally Posted by ocnorb After going over the peak I shifted to regeneration (L) and dropped down into Midway. The battery meter just kept climbing until it hit 60 miles!!! I must have actually been charging the top 20% of battery capacity that GM reserves.
There's a tiny buffer above the SOC (State-Of-Charge) maximum, but otherwise, no the car will not allow charging to the top. Tesla and some other BEVs do allow that, but even they admit battery life suffers. GMs goal is 5000 complete charge/discharge cycles without significant reduction in range. This "forced" durability is also why that the battery pack is also actively cooled and/or heated as required.

If one is on a long downhill using regen and the battery is at the max allowed SOC, the Volt will use one motor against the other to provided the expected drag on the car, but without putting further energy into the battery.

 The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to HiFlite For This Useful Post: MetroMPG (09-10-2015), ocnorb (09-15-2015)
EcoModding Lurker

Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Michigan
Posts: 34
Thanks: 1
Thanked 26 Times in 17 Posts
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Dark Rum Runner Just thinking outside the box. I am not to familiar with all the volt mechanics so... I wonder if you can run the charger while car is motion. You could make a pack of say four 16000 mAh li-po packs and run the charger/pack from the trunk. Battery weight is 1290g (2.85 lbs) and around \$80 us each. 10c discharge on 4 packs would be over 600 amp capability So 64000 mAh pack @ 16 volts = 12 pounds. Maybe 5-10 pounds for an 12v to 110 inverter. You could charge this pack up while at work with a 110 volt charger. Also how are the accessories run, 12 vol motors or higher off the main pack as the accessory pack could help run fans etc and save on keeping the 12 v battery charged(does it have one)
Volts have a normal 12V AGM battery mounted in the trunk. It's charged as needed from the 360V main battery, including when the car is plugged in. All accessories and the computers are run from the 12V AGM with the exception of the resistance heaters, A/C compressor and starter (IIRC). Since 12V charging of a 360V battery is a lossful and non-trivial task, extra 12V storage capacity is of limited usefulness.

In normal weather, with the car turned on but accessories and climate control off, the base load is around 300-350W, btw.

 The Following User Says Thank You to HiFlite For This Useful Post: MetroMPG (09-10-2015)
EcoModding Lurker

Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Michigan
Posts: 34
Thanks: 1
Thanked 26 Times in 17 Posts
Quote:
 Originally Posted by jray3 Hacking modern EVs like the Volt, LEAF, i-MIEV, etc.. is a big challenge. The vehicle software is a big unknown, and physical modifications can lead to unforeseen consequences. (Even changing brake lights out to LED has caused trouble codes.
True, and the Volt being far more complicated than a BEV means far more opportunities for things to go wrong.

For example, hooking up a Scangauge II runs the risk of bricking the Volt = tow to the dealer and \$\$\$ to reload the original programming into the controllers.

 The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to HiFlite For This Useful Post: MetroMPG (09-10-2015), MobilOne (10-08-2015)
EcoModding Lurker

Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Michigan
Posts: 34
Thanks: 1
Thanked 26 Times in 17 Posts
Quote:
 Originally Posted by WindyDrew Well. LED headlights are a bust. Will not work in a Volt at all! Guess I'll get 35w hids. People seem to have good luck with them.
I have them, but be very particular about grounding and keep the HV cables away from other wiring. Since HIDs use high frequency AC, interference can cause havoc. One Volt owner lost his brakes when he turned his headlights on ...

 The Following User Says Thank You to HiFlite For This Useful Post: MobilOne (10-08-2015)
EcoModding Lurker

Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Michigan
Posts: 34
Thanks: 1
Thanked 26 Times in 17 Posts
Quote:
 Originally Posted by jray3 WindyDrew, I don't see any report on which Level 1 EVSE you are using. The Volt has come with a few, as I hear. One defaults to 8 amps unless you select 12 amps every time, one was recalled due to 16 gauge wires that tended to overheat, and all of the Voltec EVSE seem to have had high failure rates compared to the Panasonic units supplied by Nissan and Mitsubishi. Since you said that 8 hrs at work isn't enough to completely recharge, I'd focus on fixing that and make sure you're using a 12 amp EVSE (on a standard 15 amp outlet). 12 amps would be plenty to refill the Volt's 10.4 useable kWh, but if you have access to a 20 amp 120V outlet, you could go all the way up to a 16 amp L1 EVSE, which should recharge the car within six hours. I've used the dual voltage SPX/Bosch Power Express since 2011 due to its user-adjustable settings, but there are better options out there now for an adjustable L1 EVSE. (The SPX design put the amperage trim pot within a bumper that collects water and kills the unit if you leave it sitting on its back in the rain...)
The supplied 120V EVSE problems were fixed starting with the 2013 models. The charge rate and amperage is controlled by the car, not the EVSE. Gen I Volts have 3 options: 120V@8A, 120V@12A, and 240V@~14A. The onboard AC/DC "charger" is limited to 3.3 kW max in any case. Some people will buy EVSE units rated for 240V with 20 or higher amps, but it will *not* charge the Volt faster than the base 15A units.

For 2011/12, the 120V charging defaulted to 12A. This did not cause problems for the car or EVSE, but a lot of home garages have crappy wiring, resulting in burnt plugs or worse. Others would use cheap extension cords with similar results. Hence, 2013-15 models default to 8A every time! If one wishes to get 12A charging, it must be selected from the touchscreen.

From empty, my charge times run ~16 hours @ 8A, ~10 hours @ 12A, and ~3.5-4 hours with 240/15A. In terms of electricity use, 120V/12A is the least efficient. 2011/12 models have ~10 kW-hr useful charge, 2013-late 2014 have 10.5, and late 2014-2015 have ~11.7 kW-hr.

BEVs like the Leaf typically can charge at 6 kW or better, otherwise charge times get very long.

EcoModding Lurker

Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Michigan
Posts: 34
Thanks: 1
Thanked 26 Times in 17 Posts
Quote:
 Originally Posted by WindyDrew Just a fake upper grill.
Not entirely. Look around the shiny stuff just under the chevy badge on the front. It's open. Experience has shown, never, ever block off these openings!

EcoModding Lurker

Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Michigan
Posts: 34
Thanks: 1
Thanked 26 Times in 17 Posts
Quote:
 Originally Posted by WindyDrew There's no way that a car as advanced as the Volt won't warn me before it gets too hot. It is an electric car after all.

I wouldn't bet the farm on it. Warning systems are not designed to anticipate owners modifying the car. The Volt's cooling system is massively complicated. (The factory service manual for my early cars ran a couple hundred pages, for my 1987 Audi, 800 pages, for the Volt ~6000 pages!)

The Chevrolet Volt Cooling/Heating Systems Explained - GM-VOLT : Chevy Volt Electric Car Site GM-VOLT : Chevy Volt Electric Car Site

Five radiators in 4 layers! A good sized stone in the wrong place can and has caused \$2000 worth of damage. One reason not a lot of Volt activity has appeared on modder is that it's a ~\$35000 car, not a 1982 Hondaru worth 500 bucks. Also, it's hard to improve upon something so well optimized from the get-go. My ~stock Volt has a 82 mpg lifetime history and costs ~\$550 per 10,000 miles to power, running 50/50 on gas and electricity. DOUBLING its efficiency would save me \$200/year and modding isn't going to come close to that.

I'd suggest studying the owner's manual and gm-volt.com before embarking on any major projects. YMMV.

 The Following User Says Thank You to HiFlite For This Useful Post: MobilOne (10-08-2015)
Batman Junior

Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 22,056

Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
Team Metro
Last 3: 70.09 mpg (US)

MPGiata - '90 Mazda Miata
90 day: 53.56 mpg (US)

Winter beater Metro - '00 Chevrolet Metro
90 day: 61.98 mpg (US)

Fancy Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 58.72 mpg (US)

Even Fancier Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 58.34 mpg (US)
Thanks: 3,704
Thanked 6,511 Times in 3,373 Posts
Thanks for all the informative posts, HiFlite.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by HiFlite The 2011/12 model year Volts have more complete undertrays than 2013-2015. Unfortunately while they will physically fit, the 13/14/15s don't have the mounting studs welded in place as with the 11/12s.
If cost-effectiveness is a person's goal in modding, then re-using a set of trays from the earlier car isn't the way to go anyway. Use sheet coroplast (or equivalent) and new mounting points. I haven't looked under a Volt, but I expect there are lots of places to screw into existing plastic shields/trays. (IE no need to drill metal.)

As you point out, modding has to be very inexpensive for the return on investment to work out when the car is already more optimized than the average vehicle.
__________________
Latest mods: 3-cylinder Mitsubishi Mirage. EcoMods now in progress...
Ecodriving test:
Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown

EcoModder
has launched a forum for the efficient new Mitsubishi Mirage
www.MetroMPG.com - fuel efficiency info for Geo Metro owners
www.ForkenSwift.com - electric car conversion on a beer budget

 10-08-2015, 01:58 PM #70 (permalink) EcoModding Lurker   Join Date: Mar 2012 Location: Indiana Posts: 21 Thanks: 0 Thanked 9 Times in 8 Posts I just bought my 2014 Volt earlier this year, and I'm in a similar situation. My commute is about 48 miles round trip, and I average about 42 miles per charge. I cringe every time that gas engine comes on with only a mile or two left to go... How are your pizza wheel covers holding up? Where did you get the expanding plug from? What size? I measured about 1.5" minimum opening, but the inner cavity is larger. Did you take the wheels off and insert the plug from the inside? I also noticed that the pans look a little too small. I measured a little over 18" to get beyond the lip of the rim. What size are yours? I've also been looking at hitch mounted cargo boxes. The torque cental invisi hitch seems the most robust and keeps ground clearance, but the boxes I've found will be so high they enter the wind stream. I'd only be using mine on long trips though, not for consistent FE gains.