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Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

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Well,
After much contemplating I bought a Chevy Volt a couple of weeks ago. That puts two electric Vehicles in my Garage and I thought for those on the forum contemplating the same I will give a brief account.
First, the Volt is a technological marvel, second to none. Great build, outstanding equipment and guess what, the battery works as it should. At 10.4kW usable capacity ( from a total of 16) I actually get a reliable 45 miles of electric range. Importantly, the range estimator is always spot on. Of course the car displays you the kW used so you always know what you have left.Regenerative breaking also works great and you can actually see the kWs go back into the battery. I have seen as much as 300 Watt go back in coasting down a hill. I have driven about 500 miles, 420 of the electric. No range anxiety since when the battery goes empty, the generator comes on and other than its background noise nothing changes. Brilliant. Afetr 45 miles electric you go as far as you wish on gas.
Now here to the comparison
I have been travelling the same roads to work each day as I did with my Vectrix for the past 2 years. 32 miles roundtrip in a pretty hilly terrain covering about 2000 feet of differential. The Vectrix has about 3-6 miles of range left at the end and uses 4.3-4.5kW of charge. If I deplete it to red light, which I used to do until I installed the Lairds software it would go 38miles and consume 5.3kW for a full charge.
For comparison, The Voly uses 6.8kW driving at equivalent speed for the same trip, which equals to about 215Watt/miles and uses 7.8-8kW to charge.
So what I am shocked by is that this 3500lbs car uses less than 2times the energy than the Vectrix. I assume that the Vectrix uses 90Watt/miles at the most which would take the 3.7kW down by 3420 watt on a 38miles drive. But the recharging quotes roughly 1.5 times the energy consumed. On the Volt, it requires only 15% extra.
So clearly this Vehicle is showing what can be done with good Li batteries and good electronics. It does put a simple on my face knowing that I have just done a 32 mile commute to work for aout 80 cents.
Now wthe Vectrix will still get me to work on nice days, but admittedly when I was braving 40oF weather in the past, I now opt for the Volt instead on those colder mornings.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

THAT grate to hear,I have always felt that the electric car it the way of the future.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt
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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

HarryS wrote:

It does put a simple on my face . . .

My wife says I have a simple on my face all the time.

BLUESTREAK wrote:

THAT grate to hear, . . .

If it grates you to hear this you should not read this forum.

Guys, just kidding. I transpose letters all the time. I'm lysdexic, at least when typing. :)

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

Nice to read a positive hands-on review of the Volt, and to compare the energy consumption to the Vectrix as well!

Next time I get up that way, I want a test ride!! :-)

Question: Does the Volt require a dedicated charge station, or can it charge from a wall plug? And what is the empty to full charge time?

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

The volt has a110V cable with a build in surge protector that fits neatly with a wound up cord in a compartment under the trunk. It charges at roughly 1kW/h so a full charge talked up to 10h. I did purchase a $490 240V charging station that I installed in my garage. It charges at 3.3Kw and hence gets the job done in about 3-3.5h. BUt that absolutely is not necessary. Since I use about 2/3 or the charge on my commute, it only takes a little over 2h to charge but it is easily charged over night with the provided 110V.
I should mention that the 220V charging station is compatible with the Nissan Leaf and all the other electrics coming out using the new standardized plug.
Did I mention the iPhone APP that allows you to check the status of your car, everything from charging status to air pressure in each wheel or how much is left in the tank. You can also remote start the car so it's nice and warm/cool when you get in powered through the cord rather than the battery. You can also google any address on your iPhone or android phone and upload turn by turn directions to the Volt. When you get in the car, it guides you right the giving you in dash directions WITHOUT a build in navigation system.
The technology is just marvelous. I am trying to attach a couple of screen shots from my phone...

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

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Mik
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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

Interesting real-world comparison.

I think the "only" 100% higher energy consumption of the Volt is due to the hilly terrain and possibly heating of the passenger cabin. The tyre rolling resistance with 4 tyres and much higher weight must be larger than that of the Vectrix, but the wind resistance of the Volt could well be lower.

I wonder who would win a competition on flat ground at 100km/h. I'd put my money on the Volt, i.e. I think the Volt would travel further with 1kWh energy on flat ground at high speed than the Vectrix.
At low speed the Vectrix would win the competition.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

Thanks for the review. I would love an electric car for my commute, but the parking costs for me mean it's uneconomic. I'm impressed with the Volt's miles/kwh. I know bikes have a Coefficient of drag typically twice that of a car, and that at 40mph 90% of the energy used goes into overcoming drag. So while it doesn't completely surprise me, I'm still impressed.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

That is totally kewl!! :-)

Congrats on the car by the way! :-)

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

Interesting review. Thanks! I wonder if some of the lack of difference in the Volt/Vetrix efficiency comes from the charging station and BMS? It would surprise me if the Vectrix charger wasted a lot of energy.

Does the Volt say anything about not charging the battery all the way? Nissan recommends an 80% charge for daily use to improve the battery pack longevity.

As the owner of a Nissan Leaf I have a slight quibble with people who call the Volt "electric", but I'll just let that go for now. :-)

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

well,
the Volt charges from an SOC of 25%-90% using only 65% of total capacity. The Leaf has a 24kW battery and presumably uses all if needed. The Volt has 16kW of which it only uses 10.4 kW. With regard to it not being an electric, that comes down to your actual use. Its like sailboat with an outboard engine. I suppose that comes down to whether or not you use the generator. The choice between the vehicles may also come down to whether you like to have range anxiety, as all us Vectrix owners have had from time to time, or whether you like the idea of having an electric generator on board that permits you to go beyond the range of your battery if needed. For me, I am going electric all day every day since the 45miles of actual range I am achieving is sufficient for what I do almost every day. I estimate that I will wind up driving at least 8-9000miles per year only electric. Yet I don't need a second car when going on vacation to the bach which is 240 miles away. You, I am sure use this car for one purpose only and have a second car when going on a longer trip. Just one example for range anxiety. My airport which I use from time to time is 65 miles roundtrip. Presumably within teh reach of the Leaf but not leaving much to spare, certainly in the winter time. Suppose I park the car there for a 1 week trip, will I surely make it back having to run a defroster and consition the battery. Probably. What if it were 75miels? Hence I would argue that the Volt does have advantages for most users particularly those of us using the Vectrix since we are already used to a maximum 40 mile range. Having seen two batteries die because of overcharging and overheating in the Vectrix I like the idea of using only 65% SOC in the Volt as opposed to the 100% that the Leaf used. They could increase the range to 70 miles by simply setting the software to use 100% SOC. It will be years, hopefully, until we know how well either battery holds up.
With reagrds to charging efficiency. Clearly, in the three years that I have owned two Vectrix's it was clear that you use 150% of the wattage that you take out of the battery. Argue with me as you wish, just measurte it. To get a full charge for the 3700Watt battery draws 5500-5600Watt. If I use 10.4KW on the Volt, it draws 12kW for the full charge, that 15% loss. Both values measured multiple times using Kill-A-Watt.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

Here is the data from my daily work communte, oneway. The profile along with the stats. Its not flat at all, actually 250m ascent. Total distance travelled 15 miles, battery used 3.0kW or 30%. That is exactly 200Watt/mile. The first 10 miles @ 40-45mph country road, the last 5 miles is highway driven at 60-65mph.
course2.JPG
Course profile.JPG

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

Down around mile 17, looks like you're climbing over a pole! HAHA!! ;-)

My personal thoughts on the leaf, are the same as the Vectrix. It will be the perfect vehicle for a very small number of consumers in the US. The Volt, on the other hand, will appeal and be useful to a much larger number of commuters who simply can't afford a second gas burning long range vehicle.

When you say "generator", is this car powered ONLY by electric, with its extended range provided by a gas burning generator? How different is the performance when running off the generator? Can you tell by power or speed limitations?

I'm like you, most of my days are less than 20 miles, but with LOTS of stops and starts and very short trips. However, I often have to go to Montgomery (40 to 60 miles round trip) in addition to my commute habits, so there are unfortunate days when the Vectrix has to sit even when the weather is great for it.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

moccasin wrote:

When you say "generator", is this car powered ONLY by electric, with its extended range provided by a gas burning generator? How different is the performance when running off the generator? Can you tell by power or speed limitations?

Volt has four modes of operation:
1) only electric drive with main E-Motor from the battery
2) only electric drive with two E-Motors from the battery at higher speeds in order to keep the electric motors down to efficient RPM
3) only electric drive from the generator plus it charges the battery when surplus power is available (extended range)
4) (all ye electric only folks look the other way now :-) combined electric AND mechanical ICE drive plus generator operation at high speeds in order to keep the electric motor down to efficient RPM

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

Under most circumstances the car is only propelled by one or both of the electric motors, the main motor being a 111Kw, the second being the either run typically as a 55kW generator but can help the primary motor out. As a result there is no transition when the generator turn on, just the source of the electons change from battery to generator. If after 45 miles the generator comes on, it simply provides enough electricity to keep the electric motor going, and if needed it dips into the battery as well. Note that since the main electric motor has 111kW while the generator has only 55kW, if you press the pedal to the metall, the generator would not be able to produce enough electricity without the battery to produce the full 149hp output. Since this however only happens sporatically, when passing for example, the car will use both battery and generator electricity to fuel the electric drive train.
The Volt has been critisized by some to engage the generator directly onto the drive train in exeptionally rare circumstances making it a parallel hybrid rather than a serial hybrid. I have not yet had that happen and frankly, this is all semantics as far as I am concerned.
"At certain loads and speeds, 30 to 70 mph (48 to 110 km/h), the internal combustion engine may at times be engaged mechanically via a clutch to an output split planetary gearset in order to assist the electric traction motor propelling the Volt. Therefore, the Volt can operate either as an all-electric vehicle, a series hybrid or a parallel hybrid depending on the battery's state of charge (SOC) and the vehicle's operating conditions"
If in extended mode with a depleted battery, the generator still turns off when you are stopping at a light or are in stop and go traffic. It typically will not charge the battery until you plug it in. INterestingly, suppose you drain your fuel tank to empty, the Volt will dip into its battery reserved, the ~6kW remaining, and will let you drive a few more miles then normal to get you to the closest gas station.
All in all I must say this is such a well thought out concept that I dont understand why the car gets critisized so much by people who have never driven on.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

I find that by only charging my Vectrix to about 138-140v, rather than fully charging, I save a boatload of electricity. I have a feeling, and this is purely from a non technical viewpoint, that the final part of the charge takes a huge amount of electricity for very little gain.

e.g. I ride on the freeway for 22km to a friend's place. When I leave I'm on 140v.. when i arrive there, i'm on 132v. I charge for one hour and it's back to 140v, and by the time I'm back at my place it's again at 132v, which means, in my books, 22km takes about 1 hour of charge.

OR...I leave with it fully charged at 143-145 v....I arrive at my friend with STILL 132v showing, but if I leave it plugged in until it's finished, it's working away for over two hours.

Are my assumptions wrong?

I only bring this up, because the OP's post about usage doesn't really take the above into account, where the volt is already not charging up fully, which is where the biggest waste is.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

moccasin wrote:

When you say "generator", is this car powered ONLY by electric, with its extended range provided by a gas burning generator? How different is the performance when running off the generator? Can you tell by power or speed limitations?

Maybe this article from Jalopnik answers some of your question, it's titled "Chevy Volt Engine Won’t Recharge Batteries While Driving; Just A Regular Plug-In Hybrid?". Evidently the generator dosn't charge the battery even though it could like hybrids do.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt
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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

Yes,
that is absolutely correct. Once the battery is depleted, only AC will charge it back up. (Regemneratibe breaking will still be putting a little charge into the battery). That designe makes a lot of sense because it would be extremely inefficient to charge a battery from a generator. The efficiency would be around 25%. Just like if we had to charge our Vectrix from a generator every time, we would be way better off driving a gas powered cycle. The best description is that the Chevy is a pure electric car for the first 35-45miles, then it becomes a serial hybrid. By comparison the Prius is a parallel hybrid that engages the battrey powered emotor and gas motor together most of the time.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

HarryS wrote:

Both values measured multiple times using Kill-A-Watt.

Thanks for the good information! That's what I love about this forum is real life experiences so people considering buying one of the vehicles we discuss here have access to information that doesn't make it into the brochures.

HarryS wrote:

well,
You, I am sure use this car for one purpose only and have a second car when going on a longer trip.

Wrongo, piston puss! :-) My primary source of transportation is my feet. They get me to most things I want to do including shopping. My backup is a bicycle when I need to go farther, faster, or need to haul more. We also vacation using the bicycles. The car is mostly for times when walking is impractical and biking is dangerous such as dark, icy winter nights. It really doesn't get used all that much.

It is not my intent, however, to start a war over which type of car is better. Electric vehicles work for some people like me. Plug-in hybrids work better for other people. Both demonstrate a commitment to transitioning to better and more efficient types of transportation which is what this forum is all about.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

Hey Harry, curious question for you. Is the power source switchable on demand?

Let's say I need to run 45 to 50 miles today, the first 10 miles and the last 10 miles on the highway at 60-65 mph, and the middle 25 to 30 are going to be stop and go traffic zones, with speeds barely touching 45 mph between lights. Would it be possible, or prudent, to START my commute by running off the generator for the highay miles, then switch to battery for the heavy traffic zone, and then let the generator kick in whenever the batter gets low (presumably somewhere on the highway on last leg?

I can see where a starting and stopping generator could get annoying in heavy traffic/congested areas, so I'm wondering if it'd make more sense to save the battery for that part and use the generator for the 10 mile easy drive sections?

I ask this because that is the exact scenario of my wife's daily commute to work and back. Fly the first 10 miles, crawl the second ten miles, then on the way back you crawl the first ten miles and fly the last ten.

Thoughts?

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

I'm not Harry, but yes, the Volt allows such driving profiles too: Start out in generator mode for a fast wizz and save up the battery capacity for the final city miles, and vice versa of course.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

Well Mike,
I hate to disappoint the previous poster but No you cannot change at will what the source is with one small exception.
The vehicle will always run on electric until the battery is depleted to about 25% and then start the generator. The exeption is when you switch the driving mode to "mountain". In this mode, the battery will only be depleted to 40% when the generator comes on. This is to maintain a sufficient additional battery to support the generator on long steep mountain climbs. Now what you can do is to start your trip in mountain mode when you know that you will end up somewhere in stop and go city driving. After 25 miles on the highway the generator comes on. You drive for a 100miles and get off the highway. With 15miles to go you switch to normal driving mode and use the 15% battery you left "in the tank".
That's about as much control that you have.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

HarryS wrote:

Well Mike,
I hate to disappoint the previous poster but No you cannot change at will what the source is

Darn - it would be cool to be able to choose. I wonder why they don't allow it?

Quote:

That's about as much control that you have.

Well, that is until someone "hacks it" :-) What folks have done with Prius hacking is amazing (not to mention our very own The Laird has done with the Vectrix charger).

It reminds me of Mik's tagline something like: when there's no way there's always a way...

So, don't give up hope! ;-)

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

This is interesting! Apparently the Chevy Volt and the in principle identical Opel/Vauxhall Ampera do differ in this point. Ampera, according to test reports, has a "Drive Select" switch that allows manual selection of the "mountain" mode as described by Harry, but also a "hold" mode that immediately starts the generator, even with a full battery, and thus allows saving battery charge for a fully electric end of the trip. Sadly I cannot verify if this is really the case, but I have read it in various test reports already.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

MEroller wrote:

This is interesting! Apparently the Chevy Volt and the in principle identical Opel/Vauxhall Ampera do differ in this point. Ampera, according to test reports, has a "Drive Select" switch that allows manual selection of the "mountain" mode as described by Harry, but also a "hold" mode that immediately starts the generator, even with a full battery, and thus allows saving battery charge for a fully electric end of the trip. Sadly I cannot verify if this is really the case, but I have read it in various test reports already.

I believe there was a similar sort of difference between European and US Priuses. The EU versions had an "electric only" button on the dashboard. The US versions didn't - but many folks in the US enabled it. I don't own a Prius so I don't know the details.

It makes me wonder if there isn't some sort of issue hiding within the US FMVSS (vehicle safety standards) that somehow makes the manufacturers shy away from this in the US? Or perhaps it's the reverse and they have to provide it in the EU? At the end of the day there must be some reasoning behind these sorts of differences whether one agrees with the argument or not. They wouldn't change it "just because".

Curious!

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

OK, so curiosity got the better of me and so I asked a guy who knows all about the auto industry and the Chevy Volt:

"Here's the deal: if you put the "select" button in the car in the US, EPA assumes you will always run it in gas mode and will assess the mileage rating for the car running on the IC engine."

This means that they'll never put these features on US cars because that would ruin their CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) numbers. One of those reasons "damned if you do, damned if you don't". But at least now we know why. Hopefully "hacking" this will be easy and just a question of finding the right connectors in the wiring harness :-) [but don't do that because you may void your warranty]

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

Oh my, that would truly be a sickening reason for such differences, but sadly such rubbish is quite commonplace. I clearly remember the time at my old job when we first developped a luggage safety net for a US SUV, and we realized we would have to stich on a half dozen safety notices around the rim warning the US public that a dog chewing on such net might actually cause it to loose it's safety function, and similar self-evident bits of "wisdom".
What a troubled world we live in?! Thanks to the lady who poured hot coffee over herself and SUCCESSFULY sued McDonalds over not having warned her that the coffee may ACTUALLY be hot...

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

Two propulsion systems (electric and gas) and any problem in either an both don't work, that describes my Prius and that's what I like about the Volt that it can run independent of the engine for at least 25 miles. I'm keeping mine, holding out for an easy solution like this that I could convert it to an all electric some day.

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Re: Fun comparison Vectrix versus Chevy Volt

MEroller wrote:

Thanks to the lady who poured hot coffee over herself and SUCCESSFULY sued McDonalds over not having warned her that the coffee may ACTUALLY be hot...

You know what never gets quoted about that story? The fact that the coffee was actually significantly hotter than coffee is normally served at, as I recall it was in the upper 100s, rather than the lower 100s. But it makes a better story if you ignore details the jury heard, like 185 degree coffee.

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