• Jan 18th 2011 at 9:55AM
  • 69
Harsh winter weather can diminish the range of battery-powered vehicles. Likewise, the performance of a plug-in hybrid like the Chevrolet Volt can suffer as the mercury dips. However, when General Motors' designed the Volt, the automaker wanted to develop a plug-in that could effectively tackle grueling winter weather without a noticeable degradation in performance. Volvo dealt with this issue by adding a small ethanol heater.

Though In the winter, the Volt's battery pack is often tasked with powering a resistive heater to warm the vehicle's cabin and, as Susan Stevenson, GM's benchmarking engineer for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems explains, "It requires as much energy to heat the interior of a car on a cold day as it does to drive at a constant speed."

Therefore, GM designed the Volt's HVAC system to minimize battery drain while still allowing it to pump out ample heat to keep occupants comfortable. In sub-freezing temps, the Volt's engine kicks in periodically to heat the coolant, creating thermal energy to warm the cabin. Andrew Farah, vehicle chief engineer for the Volt, explains the functionality of the Volt's unique HVAC system like this:
Volt drivers in Southern California will likely never experience this in their day-to-day commute, but if they pack up their gear and head into the mountains for some skiing, they will appreciate the enhanced cabin comfort made possible by this unique powertrain.
However, even with its energy-optimizing HVAC system in place, the Volt, like all other automobiles, is affected by the mechanical factors (i.e. increased rolling resistance of snow-covered roads and higher viscosity fluids) that are often associated with driving in cold climates and will likely suffer some degradation in fuel economy and electric-only range as temperatures drop.

[Source: General Motors]


Chevy Volt Electrically Equipped for Winter Driving


Detroit - When the first Chevrolet Volts purchased by retail customers rolled off the delivery trucks in New Jersey recently, they were met with the season's first major blast of winter weather. The new owners quickly found out the world's first extended-range electric vehicle came fully winterized.

One of the goals in developing the Volt was to create a plug-in electric vehicle suitable for everyday use regardless of weather. Typical northern winters take an even bigger toll on battery-powered vehicles than on traditional internal combustion-powered cars and trucks.

Engines produce plenty of waste heat that can be used to warm the air in the cabin and keep things comfortable. The inherently greater efficiency of an electric powertrain means less wasted energy, but it also means that the battery has to be used to power a resistive heater to produce that warm air - electrical energy could otherwise be used to propel the vehicle, which is one of the reasons why electric vehicles have a significantly shorter driving range in cold weather.

"It requires as much energy to heat the interior of a car on a cold day as it does to drive at a constant speed," said Susan Stevenson, General Motors benchmarking engineer for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

The Volt has several features designed to minimize the drain on the lithium ion battery while still affording occupant comfort. The exclusive OnStar MyLink smartphone app or the MyVolt.com website can remotely start the Volt and warm the cabin while it is still plugged in and drawing power from the grid, leaving the battery with a full charge to maximize the electric driving range.

"The coldest weather I've experienced so far with my Volt was 18 degrees during a drive to the Poconos and I've had no complaints," said Jeffrey Kaffee, the first retail customer to take delivery of a Volt in mid-December. "Most of the time I just use the Eco mode instead of the Comfort mode and it's been no trouble whatsoever."

Less energy is consumed maintaining the cabin temperature than heating it up, but even on the road the Volt has more to contribute. Heated seats available on the Volt require less energy to keep passengers warm and comfy than it does to heat the full volume of air in the car.

The Volt also can use the engine to generate some extra heat and electrical energy in sub-freezing temperatures. In sub-freezing temperatures, the engine will periodically cycle on and off, heating the coolant to create a reservoir of thermal energy that is then used to warm the cabin air.

Using engine heat this way enables faster window defrosting and rear seat heating than taking energy from the battery. Under light driving loads, the engine and generator also can put some electrical energy back into the battery during these heating cycles to extend the electric driving range.

"Volt drivers in Southern California will likely never experience this in their day-to-day commute, but if they pack up their gear and head into the mountains for some skiing, they will appreciate the enhanced cabin comfort made possible by this unique powertrain" said Andrew Farah, vehicle chief engineer for the Volt.

Even with all of the energy optimizations, the same mechanical factors that lower fuel mileage for traditional vehicles contribute to a shorter electric driving range in winter. Cold temperatures increase the viscosity and resistance of lubricants in transmissions and axles while roads covered in snow or slush increase rolling resistance causing the powertrain to work harder and drain the battery.

But the Volt's engine generator dramatically reduces the fear of being stranded. When the lithium ion battery is depleted, the industry-first extended range capability allows the car to continue on for up to 340 additional miles.

"Volt engineers spent many frigid weeks in places like Kapuskasing, Ontario and Fairbanks, Alaska testing and calibrating the climate control system to make sure that drivers and passengers remain comfortable while still enjoying plenty of gasoline-free electric driving even in the harshest winter weather" said Farah.

Founded in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet celebrates its centennial in 2011 as a global automotive brand with annual sales of about 3.5 million vehicles in more than 130 countries. In the U.S., the Chevrolet portfolio includes: iconic performance cars, such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long lasting pickups and SUVs, such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers, such as Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly" solutions, such as Chevrolet Cruze Eco with an EPA-estimated 42 miles per gallon highway, and the Chevrolet Volt offering 35 miles of electric driving and an additional 344 miles of extended gasoline range, according to EPA estimates. Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security, and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response, and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions, and OnStar availability can be found at www.chevrolet.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      Yes, Leaf = good in south, but what's the range in snowy winter?

      Seriously, can anyone answer this? Are there any Leafs in snowy areas right now?
        • 8 Months Ago
        As of the start of the year, Nissan only delivered about 2 dozen Leaf cars in the US, to California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Tennessee. Washington is the farthest north, touching Canada, but sees little snowfall. Tennessee sees occasional snow, so they might have some with the recent freeze hitting Atlanta.

        This is very much unlike the Volt rollout, which includes Michigan and New York cold-weather states, along with metro DC.
      • 8 Months Ago
      It is great the Volt is taking advantage of hybrid powertrains for HVAC. Prius has been doing this for almost 7 years.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Gen 2 Prius had a vacuum thermo bottle to store the hot coolant when shutting down. That raised about 30 deg F upon cold startup.

        Gen 3 Prius has Exhaust Heat Recovery system (replaced thermo bottle) so it benefits every time the gas engine runs (not only cold startup).

        Volt is lacking this technology. I believe it is the reason it couldn't qualify for SULEV or AT-PZEV emission rating.
        • 8 Months Ago

        Well, I think this is a better way to interpret the data. The MPG delta is 5%.

        5% gain in ideal weather and 5% loss in the worst weather.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The Volt has a much larger battery than the Prius. If one can optimize the battery use and charging, it should be more efficient - that "free" first gallon of gas adds up pretty quickly.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @LS7 - From what I see, your "dramatically" is a 5% to 10% hit. Sure, it's noticable, but not what I'd consider "dramatic".

        If you're going to compare Volt CS mode, without using the battery, I don't think that's the point of the Volt.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @LS: 5 / 40 = 12.5%, which is a lot closer to 10% than 20%.

        -10% of 40 is -4 mpg, or 36 mpg
        -20% of 40 is -8 mpg, or 32 mpg

        35 is closer to 36 than 32.

        Given the granularity of the reporting, I feel pretty comfortable saying that cold weather is a 10% hit, rather than a 20% hit.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The Prius mpg dips dramatically in cold weather. However, for the same reasons the Volt efficiency will drop too, I can't imagine the Volt would ever pass the Prius on charge-sustaining fuel efficiency, not with the Prius having a 30% head start.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I wonder how much of a fuel efficiency hit the Prius takes in cold weather? Anyone have numbers on this?
        • 8 Months Ago
        Given that the Prius engages the engine over 10 mph, the impact is probably pretty low - even a small engine generates a lot of heat.
        • 8 Months Ago
        He starts at 56 though!

        So he's down about 6mpg out of 56. Can we split the difference and call that 10%?

        I guess that blows the idea of "you can't get more than 40mpg in the winter" away though.

        John H:
        I don't know why you are dividing by 40. A Prius is rated at 50mpg. If you got 40, it'd be 40/50 or 80%, for a drop of 20%, or you can say 10 (the drop)/50 or a 20% drop.

        I am willing to got with a 10% figure though, given the data presented by usbseawolf below, it just doesn't show a 20% drop.
        • 8 Months Ago
        • 8 Months Ago
        @John H

        Exactly. It is as though the Prius had a heater you could never shut off. The relative efficiency of the two cars will get closer in cold climates though. Still suspect the Volt will win out in most common usage scenarios (based on efficiency, not price).
        • 8 Months Ago
        My understanding is that a Prius can't really break 40mpg in cold weather. 35 is actually pretty normal. That's not 5-10%, it's 20%. That's a dramatic drop in my book.

        While I in general agree that comparing the Volt based upon CS mode figures is to lose the point since the engine rarely runs anyway, we are talking about extreme cold situations here where the engine is going to come on, even before 35 miles are up. So the CS mode figures start to become more relevant than before.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I dunno, I don't really like this. And saying running the ICE extends your all-electric range is contradictory in my mind. To me, the moment the ICE turns on, your all-electric range has ended, even if the ICE just turns on to heat the cabin.

      I'd really like to know how an EV handles this. I mean I know how it handles it, but how well does it work out. If using battery power to heat the interior would reduce the range (all-electric in the Volt case) so much that the vehicle becomes significantly less useful, then I guess I'll reluctantly live with the ICE turning on.

      But I don't really have a way to know what the figures are here. GM isn't telling and Nissan sure as heck won't be bragging about how much range they lose in the cold. And what's the cold anyway? I'd like to think the car can handle "normal" cold, say 20F or even lower without running the ICE, especially if I pre-warm it by letting it heat before I unplug it. But if it's going to run the ICE every time it is below 45F outside, then a Prius starts to look like a lot better choice.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I wonder why you would consider a Prius based simply on how often the ICE in the Volt comes on. I would think that the real metric would be how much fuel each vehicle consumes over its lifetime.

        If the Volt's ICE kicks in every time it goes below 45F, but still manages to have better efficiency than a Prius under the same conditions (remember, the Prius doesn't somehow magically generate heat for free either), then stick with the Volt (considering you can/want to afford it).

        The Volt was never intended to be a pure EV, simply to be a better hybrid. This does not change that.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Because I want to go places on no gas at all. With a Volt, as long as my trips are short I can drive there using only the electricity I put in. Well, at least most of the time I can. I'd like that to be as close to 100% of the time as is practical.

        To me the kick is not using any gas and when I don't get it, I might as well have a Prius instead.

        You ask if I'm so hung up on not using gas why don't I get an EV? Well, I might. But EVs aren't practical for everyone, so the Volt matters.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @why not the LS2LS7?

        I understand your desire to travel using no gasoline. If you only drive to the supermarket and then go back to a plug, you wouldn't really care that some of your range is being used up by heat. If your commute to work, however, is close to the maximum electric only range of the car then you might want it to fire up the ICE to generate some heat and let the batteries propel the car (the assumption here is that much less gas is used to heat the car than to propel it)

        Given these two scenarios, and given that you can really only choose one solution, the second makes more sense in my mind.

        Ultimately, the Volt is (in part) a gasoline car. It was never intended to use no gas at all. It was only intended to greatly reduce the amount of gasoline used by the average commuter. It is a specific set of compromises designed to fit the largest demographic of uses. The Prius is a similar set of compromises, but one which seems to match your requirements even less (i.e. it almost always burns gasoline). That's why I was confused as to why the use of a little fuel to heat the car would turn you off to the point of selecting an option that uses potentially much more fuel to heat *and* propel the car.

        That said, it might be a factor of cost for you, which I would understand. The economics of the Volt don't make a lot of sense yet, so if you spent a lot of coin you might be wanting a much more pure EV experience. Lord knows I'm not buying one, so take everything I say with a huge grain of salt :)
        • 8 Months Ago
        I just want to mention I drove home on no gas tonight! And I'll drive to the ice rink and back on no gas either! And into work tomorrow!

        I managed to convinced my friend who owns a Volt to let me drive it for a day to see under real-world conditions how much of the range my commute uses up. The answer is not much at all.

        The listed range was 36 when I got in, 37 when I got onto the highway, and 31 when I got home. This despite driving 11 miles. So clearly I'm driving rather kindly, efficiency-wise. Assuming the amount of battery I use tomorrow to go back will be similar, I'd only use about 1/2 of the EV range to drive to work and back, so without charging at work I'd still have a lot of battery for lunch and side trips.

        I currently have the car plugged into my Kill-A-Watt to see how much the driving cost me. Drat, unless this thing is significantly underpromising and over delivering, I won't really find out, as it says it won't be completely charged until 45 minutes after I have to leave for the rink. Looks like I'll have to lump work and play usage together, and measure the total energy I put in this evening and tonight to cover both trips.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Nissan refuses to divulge true comparable range numbers for winter driving with the Leaf's heater on.

        Nissan said:
        - 138 miles crusing (no HVAC, 38 mph) - best case!
        - 70 miles highway (AC on, 55 mph)
        - 62 miles winter (heater on, 15 mph stop-and-go)

        No details were given as to outside temp / interior temp setting, so most likely, that 62 mile range is optimal for 30-40F, rather than 10F outside. But for all we know, Nissan could have been talking about a California winter of 50-60F. Without the details, it's hard to say. This is why real-world data from regular owners becomes very important.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Interesting that a gm press release states that the volt has 35 mile aer. I think the "25 to 50 miles" is more accurate, but it is a climbdown from 40. The 2011 volt is a great car but I can't wait to see what the 2012 brings to the table.
      • 4 Years Ago
      How on earth does it take as much power to heat the cabin as to drive the car forward ? Constant speed would need about 10kW, I can imagine what a 10kW resistive heater would do to the interior.... Furnace anyone ? 2kW should be enough even on the coldest of days.
        • 8 Months Ago
        To be fair, he said "2kW" - that's *TWO* hair dryers, not one, so it'd heat *twice* as fast as a single hair dryer.

        I imagine the OP lives in a warm weather state, or has never struggled with heating a home via heat pump or a room via electric heater.
        • 8 Months Ago
        OnStar or whever the Nissan versino is gets better than that, because you can also pre-cool the car on a hot, sunny day. Which might be as simple as cracking the windows and running the fan (non-AC) for a few minutes. Venting stored heat from a car like this would help take some of that huge initial load off the AC system.
        • 8 Months Ago
        And my post above refers to a Volt using OnStar when JohnH was talking about a Leaf. Way to pay attention, Ziv....
        But I think people will do the same thing with the Leaf, i.e. a Leaf driver will turn the heat on high for a minute or two before unplugging the car. That way you never have to have the heat on high, because the eco setting doesn't drain nearly as much energy as the high settings you need to use to warm a nearly frozen car. It will still cost you on the range, but not as much if you don't pre-condition the car at all.
        • 8 Months Ago
        according to the Nissan display Full Heat or A/C takes up 6 KW

        Cruising at constant highway speed can take about 15kw - 25kw depending on Cd
        • 8 Months Ago
        Most hair dryers are 1500W. Some are "1850W" which is the max a circuit can do. I don't really believe these draw the full 15A though, you'd pop a breaker too often. They probably are lying a bit.

        So it's not really two hair dryers, it's more like 1.4.

        My grandfather had a 1500W electric space heater. In a large room only the direct IR on your skin or clothes could be felt, it never really heated up the room at all.

        I do agree that 10 or 12kW seems like a lot for heating a car. If you really momentarily reached those figures, it would seem like wouldn't be something you'd sustain once the car heated up.
        • 8 Months Ago
        JohnH has a good point about the heat using up a significant portion of the energy available if you have to crank it. This is the only reason I think OnStar might be worth it, you would be able to precondition the car for 5 minutes before you get in it, thereby using the electricity from your homes electrical system to heat the car, rather than using the electricity from the pack to do it. Personally, I would leave the heat on low to save power and drive at a comfortable, but cool, temperature.
        • 8 Months Ago
        So you want to heat the interior of a 10F car with the equivalent of a hair dryer? Sorry man, it can't be done.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The Leaf pack is 24kWh, so if you have a half-hour commute, and you run the heater full-bore for the first 15 minutes, then half-rate for the remainder, you'll burn like this:
        6kW * .25h + 3kW * .25h
        = 1.5kWh + .75kWh
        = 2.25kWh used in heating for the trip.

        If the driving takes 20kWh, then it's
        20 kWh * .5h
        = 10 kWh used driving

        So the Leaf's heater incurs a 20-25% mileage penalty in cold weather.

        If you run it full-bore, it's 6 kWH / 16 kWH, or about a 30% penalty.
      • 8 Months Ago
      The ICE runs periodically to heat the cabin. The ICE runs periodically to keep itself lubricated. The ICE runs and applies mechanical power directly to the wheels under certain driving conditions. The ICE runs even when the battery has 25% charge remaining. The ICE sure runs a lot!
        • 8 Months Ago
        Actually I think the ICE runs when the battery has more like 40% remaining.

        But despite all this the ICE doesn't run a lot, at least under normal conditions.
      • 8 Months Ago
      It seems a little dumb using a resistive electric heater especially considering GM already have an air conditioning compressor installed in the car. Why not change a few parts and make it in to a fully fledge air source heat pump which can provide heating and cooling. Didn’t the EV1 use a heat pump?

      “In order to provide heat more efficiently, an electrically driven heat pump can raise the indoor temperature by extracting heat from the ground, the outside air, or waste streams such as exhaust air. This can cut the electricity consumption to as little as 20% of that used by resistive heating and thus reduce the environmental impact.” And the battery!

      “A heat pump uses an electrically-driven compressor to operate a refrigeration cycle that extracts heat energy from the outdoor air or from the ground or ground water, and upgrades its temperature to a level high enough to use for space heating. The working fluid boils at a low temperature, absorbing heat in an outdoor heat exchanger, then the resulting vapor is compressed and condenses to liquid form in a condensor inside the building. Heat from the condensor is absorbed by the air in the building (and sometimes also used for domestic hot water). In the summer months the cycle can be reversed to provide air conditioning. Heat pumps may obtain low-grade heat from the outdoor air in mild climates; in areas with average winter temperatures well below freezing, ground source heat pumps extract residual heat stored in the ground at a more constant temperature.”

        • 8 Months Ago
        Ever been in a freezing cold house "heated" by a heat pump? Compared to any fossil-based heater (oil, natural gas), it's not really heating. Same thing here. ICE has lots of stored heat available.
      • 8 Months Ago
      The Volt is probably much better than the Leaf for those that live in harsh Northern climates. The Volt is born in Michigan . . . the Leaf doesn't have much of a thermal management system for the battery.
        • 8 Months Ago
        My note below should have been a reply to this post...
        • 8 Months Ago
        What proof do you have of that? Liquid cool/heat management versus air?

        I think Nissan would not be releasing the car in Canada, if they were not confident of it's ability of handling cold weather.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Nissan also uses a VERY different chemistry in their cells than GM does.

        We simply don't know yet how they will handle cold weather.

        But I do know this..

        Carlos Ghosn is smart enough to have put in a thermal management system if the battery pack really needed it.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Yes, it's been proven many times. Nissan used air cooling and effectively no heating for the pack.

        See the Wired article on it.

        It's a big experiment, that's for sure. If Nissan makes this work, every car company will do it, because air cooling is a lot less heavy, expensive and takes up less space than a liquid system. But many, including myself, are skeptical that it can be made to work. I eagerly await the Leaf release in Canada to see how it really does perform.
        • 8 Months Ago
        We'll have to disagree. I think Ghosn is kidding himself if he believes this and that Nissan (nor most companies) is above taking shortcuts to get the first mover advantage.

        I simply don't believe in Ghosn enough to assume that when Nissan does things differently from the rest of the world, that they have the secret inside scoop that no one else found.

        Time will tell for certain though.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I always found this funny, seeing as how when I leave my cellphone in a car overnight in the winter, it will actually gain a bar or two of battery power.
      • 4 Years Ago
      OMG...it even needs gas to run the heater?
        • 8 Months Ago
        I think I know what Michael was trying to say.

        1) From and engineering standpoint, it smart. Just like GM's decision to have the engine physically power the wheels at speeds above 70 mph (rather than engine-to-generator-to-motor)

        2) From a marketing perspective... it is another misleading (some call it a lie) statement revealed. The Volt has been marketed as an "Electric Vehicle".. but it is turning out to be a vehicle that uses the gasoline engine much more often.

        Smart engineering... piss poor marketing.
        • 8 Months Ago

        Volt doesn't have full EV mode neither because it is faster in CS mode. It only go up to 100 mph. Tesla Roadster goes up to 125 mph so what speed would you consider "full EV speed"? See the problem there?

        If the Volt has 10 miles EV range left and if you switch to Mountain mode, the gas engine should turn on. Conditions may be different but the concept of plugin hybrid is the same.

        Sure, PHV Prius doesn't have full acceleration with only the battery power. That's the beauty with hybrids. You have two powertrains that works together. I am just not so sure if Volt's hybrid powertrains work together from looking at the result. I think it is actually Volt's weakness by not allowing the gas engine to join in, too bad. We have different views and we can agree to disagree.

        You can call PHV Prius as city car on battery, Volt as highway car on battery or the Roadster as super highway car on battery. It doesn't matter. The official engineering definition of a hybrid is the vehicle with two power sources (not what drives the wheels). Volt has two power sources just as the PHV Prius. Just because Volt can accelerate faster and higher speed on battery does not make it an EV!

        We can call Prius gas-electric hybrid and Volt electric-gas hybrid. However, PHV Prius is an electric-gas hybrid because it starts on battery (default is EV mode).

        Regarding the "corruption" of EV acronym, I have been using PHV for plugin hybrid.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @why not the LS2LS7?

        Only if your reason for using a Volt is based on fanaticism instead of practicality. The idea behind the Volt is to reduce your gasoline usage, not eliminate it. If you don't ever want to burn gas, buy a pure EV. If using a little gas now improves your overall efficiency, then the trade off is appropriate. Momentary gasoline consumption is irrelevant. Long term averages are what matter and that is what the Volt is designed to improve.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Much more efficient to use the engine to heat the cabin. My Fusion hybrid does the same thing to generate heat while using only electricity to run the AC compressor. I think the Prius is the same way.

        If your EV has an ICE engine, by all means take advantage of it when it benefits efficiency to do so. Well done GM!
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Jervicoe: excuse me, but can you redirect me to the graven edict that defines "EV" as you narrowly define it and the world accepts it?

        In the US, "hybrid" is just as dogmatic about being "Prius-like", using a small battery to augment a mechanical drivetrain.

        Given that, for the overwhelming majority of Americans, there are NO OEM EV's on sale besides the Volt (and the Leaf, at 1/10 the volume), the Volt *IS* the definitive "EV".

        Sorry, but the purists "lost" the naming war here.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The VOlt is mechanically similar to a Prius, however, the heavy reliance on the huge battery pack makes a *big* difference:

        The Prius is fundamentally mechanical, using the small battery to smooth things out where the engine isn't efficient (low speed, braking, stop/start).

        The Volt is fundamentally electric, using the ICE to cover the corners and edges where EV isn't efficient (high speed, cold weather, etc.)

        When you look at the spectrum from pure EV to pure ICE, the Volt is more EV-based, and the Prius is more ICE-based. And then you've got GM's BAS slotting between the Prius and ICE, with basic stop/start splitting the gap between BAS and ICE, yet again.

        The Volt = Prius argument is like saying a slice of Chicago deep dish is the same as a slice of New York pizza versus a slice of a savory meat pie or a grilled cheese sandwich. Sure, they're all basically baked breadstuffs with cheese & toppings, but the details produce very different results.

        • 8 Months Ago
        It's not just like the Prius PHEV. That's the problem.

        The Prius PHEV has reduced performance (and that's an understatement) in its EV range.

        If you design a car to be a fully capable car in both EV and gas mode, and this automatically means it costs more (as it does, because you need a larger battery and motors), then you also need a way to communicate that it is different from these other vehicles.

        And that's what EREV means.

        So if you're angry about putting adjectives on "EV", then why are you suggesting PHEV for the name? It's "plug-in hybrid" modifer on "electric vehicle"!
        • 8 Months Ago
        If you start off on electricity and then press the mountain mode button, the Volt does not turn on the ICE. Mountain mode just makes the engine turn on at a higher state of charge, and charge up the battery a bit more.

        Since when you start off on electricity you still have a ton of charge, the ICE still won't turn on. It'll turn on a little earlier, like perhaps when you have 25% battery range left, so essentially you go down to about 28 miles EV range.

        See, this is the thing, you're trying to make the two the same and they are not. The Prius PHEV doesn't have full performance in EV mode. It doesn't really have an EV mode, it has a partial EV mode. Basically, it's a citycar on battery. This is fine, if that's what you use the vehicle for. But for many others, it shows a significant difference between the two vehicles.

        This combined with the noticeable difference in any EV range (about 16 miles versus about 38 miles) is a big distinction.

        I would support calling the Prius a gas-electric-hybrid and the Volt an electric-gas-hybrid. Get Toyota to start referring to the Prius as a GEH or gas-electric-hybrid and then I'll join you to lobby GM to change their tune.

        It's just words though. Is it really worth all the trouble? A rose by any other name smells just as sweet. And despite your complaint that EV was being tainted by putting modifiers in front of it you managed to see enough of a distinction between PHEV and EV to not even notice that you were suggesting a "corruption" of EV to avoid another "corruption" of EV. Surely you can see that EREV is no worse in this way than PHEV?
        • 8 Months Ago
        Geez.. call Prius "Gas-electric hybrid" and call Volt "Electric-gas hybrid".

        Volt is not an EV. It has a tail pipe and the gas engine that powers the wheels mechanically.

        Volt is a plugin hybrid just like PHV Prius. Both starts in EV mode. Under "certain" condition, the gas engine kick in. Specific conditions are different between PHV Prius and Volt - either the driver shift to mountain mode, floors the pedal, battery charge runs low, battery temp too low, etc.

        Fundamentally, they both are the same. Ironically, Volt is mechanically more complex due to 3 clutches and additional coolant for the battery (PHV Prius battery is air cooled).
        • 8 Months Ago
        I switched to mountain mode on the Volt I borrowed tonight. It had a nearly full (>90%) charge at the time I did it. When you do it, the remaining electric range display changes. In my case it changed from 34 to 22 miles.

        But it didn't turn the ICE on. The ICE wouldn't turn on (under normal circumstances, apparently if it's really cold it might) just because you switch to mountain mode, it only does so if you are behold the newly raised minimum battery threshold.
        • 8 Months Ago
        And yet GM still resists calling this car what it is a HYBRID.

        • 8 Months Ago
        OMG....The car you drive now gets much worse MPG on cold days.

        OMG.....Every car on the road no matter how it is powered uses ALOT more energy on cold days with snowy roads and slow traffic.

        OMG....a nissan leaf gets LESS THAN 50 MILES OF RANGE on a freezing cold day with snow on the roads.

        OMG....shut up. :)
        • 8 Months Ago
        If the net efficiency & comfort improve, while net fuel usage is lower by periodically soaking a massive amount of heat from fuel, why is that a bad thing?

        Also, for regular cars, they inherently generate so much excess heat, simply by the fact that they use an internal combustion engine, I doubt running the heater significantly affects mileage. After all, that's why they have a radiator - to throw away a lot of heat!
        • 8 Months Ago
        Good point. It's further eroding on GM's claim that the Volt is an electric car. It's looking closer and closer to a typical series-parallel hybrid as we learn more about it. That's not a bad thing from an engineering standpoint, but it's getting further from the plug-in series hybrid or "EREV" it was presented as.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Both the Fusion and the Prius do this, and indeed it is efficient and appropriate for those vehicles. Those are gas vehicles, they are motivated entirely by petroleum input.

        But in a vehicle like the Volt, whose justification for its price is that you can drive about 40 miles without using any gas at all, using some gas is a concern.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The only way buying a Pure EV means using no gas ever is if you don't have another vehicle for longer trips or take taxis when your car can't make it. And you can't ride CalTrain either.

        I am realistic in understanding that I can't make long trips on electricity only in an EV or an EREV. But that doesn't mean I want to consume gas for short trips when I thought I wouldn't be doing so.
        • 8 Months Ago
        "OMG.....Every car on the road no matter how it is powered uses ALOT more energy on cold days"

        I don't understand this. If the ICE is 20% efficient, then the other 80% needs to be dumped as heat, and if you use this to heat your cabin why would this degrade range at all? That's the whole point of cogeneration isn't it?
        • 8 Months Ago
        OMG - where IS my Leaf???
        • 8 Months Ago
        The Prius is fundamentally mechanical,
        The Volt is fundamentally electric,

        But there is a word for that... oh yeah... "HYBRID"

        The big stink about GM is that they are trying to label the Volt as an "EV". And that term is really specific. So they threw on an adjective of "range extended".

        But the thing is a Hybrid! Just because the Volt now leans toward electric propulsion just as the Prius has been leaning toward ICE propulsion doesn't give them the right to masquerade as something else.

        Call it a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)... just like Toyota's Plugin Prius coming out soon.
      • 4 Years Ago
      97% of all new heating systems in Sweden are heat pumps so I guess you just need to install and spec them correctly hey? We are in the process of replacing our old natural gas boiler / furnace with a ground source heat pump. I’ll let you know if we freeze to death.
      • 8 Months Ago
      News flash the Volt uses a ICE for heat just like every other car they build. How is this news at all?

      Volvo has it right. Use ethanol for heat, unless you already have the 400 lb heater slash ICE built into your vehicle. Personally I think heating the cab in cold weather can be overcome in a myriad of ways in a true EV. If you have a fake EV that uses 80% of the energy put into it to produce heat you have no heating problems, I believe this has been proven for the last hundred years. Since the Volt is a hybrid and not a EV, why is this discussion taking place? Try comparing two EV's together, instead of one gas car and one EV, perhaps people may learn something.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The Volt has electric heaters, it under most circumstances doesn't use the ICE for heat.

        I don't see any advantage to using ethanol for heat. Why would I want to fill up my car with yet another consumable? Hassle.
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