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Chevy Volt charging unit

During a recent presentation at the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC) in California, General Motors' technical manager for the Voltec battery system, Roland Matthe, described how his quest to locate a suitable plug for the Chevy Volt in the city of Pasadena turned into a journey he'll likely never forget:

I noticed [a charging outlet] was quite hard for me to find for the Volt here in Pasadena, finally I found one in the Hilton Hotel. There was a Magna charge unit...with dust on...but was operational. The Magna charge unit is a...paddle for the EV1...and I found the DC connection, which Ford I think used in the 90s and the French vehicle used. And finally I found a normal US plug, and so luckily my car is charged every night.

If I wouldn't have found it, it wouldn't have mattered, I still have the range extender.

It's no surprise that someone involved with gas-and-electric powered Volt would tell a story like this, but it is ironic that Matthe stumbled across an outdated charging unit designed for GM's EV1. This story also details how the lack of plug-in standards led to the development of charging equipment that is now obsolete.

[Source: Green Car Congress]


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  • 37 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am very pleased with the thought and don’t feel like adding anything in it. It a perfect answer.
      ======================
      cheap trucks
      • 4 Years Ago
      Until local governments, power companies and crafty capitalists come up with a way to make money off them, I believe it would be good marketing for local GM and Nissan dealers to have charging stations installed at public venues. To be able to use a charging location with a sign stating "Local GM dealer" is providing this charge will stay in peoples minds and create good will.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Jalopnik did a very similar story with the Volt. It seems Volt drivers really, really like to push the "range anxiety" angle and the shorter 30-40 mile AER is only going to amplify it. That is why my support for the Volt is very cautious (don't really know if it is helping electric cars or doing more damage, esp. since it likes to call itself an "electric car"; ironically no standard ICE vehicle ever pushes the range anxiety angle).

      I would think the Volt has a charging station map like the Leaf, but I guess it doesn't.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Like anybody else, Volt owners want to charge for FREE.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @why not the LS2LS7?
        I'm not criticizing the goal of using as little gas as possible, which is quite reasonable. I'm criticizing using it as another poke at range anxiety. This article doesn't seem to have that as the main goal, but the Jalopnik article I read certainly did.

        I just seems to me people who don't drive electric cars and shouldn't even be affected by it or care (drivers of cars like the Volt which is supposed to be the "solution" to range anxiety) complain the most about it. Maybe it's unavoidable since like usbseawolf2000 says they have a different kind of anxiety, but I hope it doesn't become a pattern.
        • 4 Years Ago
        evchargernews is out of date enough that you can't count on it. As a Volt user, it'd be no big deal if you got there and the charger wasn't working or wasn't the type it said because they didn't update it, but for a Leaf user it could be bad.

        I am skeptical of any "in car charger map" like the Leaf has simply because there doesn't seem to be any up-to-date database. Instead there are 5 partial ones. And I don't trust the car software to merge the 5 in any realistic way.

        I don't get how you can criticize Volt users for wanting to drive without gas if possible. Do you criticize Leaf owners for the same thing?
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Volt owners want to charge for FREE"
        The map should also include free charging stations, not just paid ones.
        The automakers (or some kind of standard committee) should really try to consolidate the public charging station maps, for example the one at http://www.evchargernews.com/ seems to be the biggest and most updated (at least in terms of California).

        Since all EVs will inevitably come with LCD screens to show status information and thus likely comes with navigation (since it has the big screen already), finding a charging station shouldn't be a chore at all.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The really screwed up last-gen with electrics. 2 different chargers was a disaster . . . then again, it seemed the car companies wanted EVs to fail, so perhaps that was part of the plan.

      And they were both stupid standards.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hindsight is 20/20. The GM (and Toyota) Magne Charge inductive paddle was whizbang technology that reassured people afraid of electrocution. I don't know what was wrong with the AVCON rectangular connector that SAE J1772 REV NOV 2001 adopted, and I think most of the signaling logic specified for that version remains the same for the 2009 round connector.

        If you have articles discussing their shortcomings, please add the citations to the Wikipedia articles.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Volt owners have Range Extender Anxiety (REA). They are afraid of the ICE kicking on. That's why Matthe was looking for a plug.
        • 4 Years Ago
        REA, I like that description.

        I know I suffer from it when in a Volt. It's nice to have an ICE safety net, but it's even nicer to not have to use it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have been in Pasadena more than once driving around in circles (squares actually) following the blue CHARGER STATION signs and have never been able to find where they are pointing to (and nothing is on EV Charger maps). There are 8 chargers in a private parking lot in Pasadena which all work (Nema 14-50s) maybe he found it at the Hilton. (and why it's dusty)

      By the way, Chelsea had a good story about certain Volt drivers looking to run all electric.
      http://evchels.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/come-to-the-dark-side/
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, I was absolutely teasing- it was meant to be a lighthearted piece, not a huge statement. The Volt (any PHEV, really) is largely presented as not only not being dependent on public charging, but hardly interested in it. I run into a bunch of folks who think Volt drivers will be content to use their 40 miles or so, then use gas. Obviously the fact that the car can do that is a selling point for those who buy them, but I don't think anyone with EV experience would be surprised that PHEV drivers are going to want to maximize their EV miles too. That the Volt drivers who pinged me that week happened to be a couple of GM employees was coincidental, and made me smile.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Is her astonishment/surprise mocking?

        How can she find it strange that the people who bought Volts would want to drive on electricity? The early adopters who sought these out and paid thousands more than for a Prius did it for a reason and that reason is almost overwhelmingly likely to be so they could drive on electricity when possible.
        • 4 Years Ago
        http://electric.carstations.com/ shows Pasadena has Hilton with its antiquated Magne Charge and a nearby "Schoolhouse Garage" with more Magne Charge plus a "~120V Level 1: SAE J1772 (new format, low voltage)" of the brand "Coulomb ChargePoint".

        However, http://www.mychargepoint.net/find-stations.php (Coulomb's ChargePoint network only) comes up empty for Pasadena. One of them must be wrong.

        It's a shame there isn't an accurate map.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Would help if you read it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The EV Charger iPhone app seems pretty good.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The "outdated" EV1 charger is called SPI and is still used by RAV 4 EV owners.

      The other "outdated" charger is Avcon, the conductive one (likely that he described) and it works with several kinds of EVs that still exist like the Ranger EV and the Tango.

      You can still find SPI and Avcon chargers around town here where I am. Hopefully these will be changed to or supplemented with J1772s soon.
      • 4 Years Ago
      WOW. slow news day, ABG?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, Dave posts over at Grist. He's deep green and very political, but he's a great reporter on public policy on renewables. I don't always agree with him (I'm in the carbon tax camp vs cap-and-trade, to get all greeny inside baseball) but he's really smart, and vicious on concern trolls and the insincere of all types when it comes to energy. Well worth the read.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I have sent in many tips, to stories that are commonly of higher quality than what's on here, and have never received any response, so i stopped 'tipping'.

        LTAW; i would say a lot of posts on here are of low quality. The lack of intelligent selection of content doesn't bring in intelligent people, and that's the result.

        Pointing this out is low on the totem pole? please.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you don't like these topics.... why do you encourage them by posting? They count the hits on each page.

        ABG knows very well what stories are worth writing about by counting the hits. And guess what, any controversial topics, get the most.
        • 4 Years Ago
        And, truthfully, I would appreciate a recommendation of which blogs you'd recommend as being more, ahem, intellectual.

        I consider myself very open, and I'm a prolific reader, so I'm always on the lookout for new sources.
        • 4 Years Ago
        ABG is very receptive to "tips" and have a very convenient link set up.

        If you feel there's something that you would like covered - why not let them know?

        I agree, complaining that a story isn't interesting or making the SND comment is a complete waste of time, and is about on the same level of shouting "first".
        • 4 Years Ago
        "I have sent in many tips, to stories that are commonly of higher quality than what's on here, and have never received any response, so i stopped 'tipping'."

        I think that speaks more to the quality of your tip, than anything else. Maybe you should try providing a better explanation of why you think your news is pertinent - that whole "persuasive "writing" concept where the validity of your argument wins the editors over to your point of view. Or, maybe your links are too narrow, and would be better served on a less diverse site.

        If you don't think the posts are interesting, and you don't think they're responsive to your interests, why don't you find a forum where you're more in tune?

        "LTAW; i would say a lot of posts on here are of low quality. The lack of intelligent selection of content doesn't bring in intelligent people, and that's the result."

        So, you think that ABG is low quality, and the people who post here are unintelligent. You're certainly a charmer, aren't you? Kind of like Dan Frederiksen and that new Frank T fellow.

        I know I have a viewpoint that isn't shared by the majority of the readers here - and I know our discussions frequently get heated with accusations of trolling and shilling. Still, I have to say, being forced to defend my own views has greatly increased my understanding of a variety of technologies, in addition to introducing me to many new ones.


        I'll repeat my original suggestion - if there's news you think we'd all like to know - tip ABG. Tip them a million times. Giving up just shows that even you don't really care about what you're tipping them about.

        http://green.autoblog.com/tips/
        • 4 Years Ago
        The reason I asked, was because of this comment:

        "I have seen a brain drain on here going on for a while now. A lot of the more intellectual and informative posters are leaving, and not coming back."

        I assumed you knew where they went, and also knew their motivations for leaving ABG - but that doesn't seem to be the case. Maybe they were turned off by something you don't understand - like the legitimate annoyance Spence expressed?

        Perhaps they now just have something better to do. While I've admitted that I do learn a lot from the comments - and can agree with your comment that sometimes it seems less interested in intellectual advancement, and more a pissing contest. You may notice that I generally am on the defensive, in articles that are presenting positive information about something I'm interested in, while many would just prefer to bash.

        I've pointed out that that sort of behavior is counter-productive, and you seem to agree.

        "I think they are meeting a quota so they can get X ad impressions per day.
        That is not good journalism, and they are not poor bloggers.. this is a business and they are making money."

        comments = Page clicks = $$$

        If a topic gets lots of comments, and by that I mean page clicks, then that is generating a healthy number of ad views, and ABG makes money.

        So, I'll suggest a second course of action you might try: If you find something boring, or uninteresting, don't comment about it at all. That will be one less page click, after all.



        Maybe then, ABG will stop posting so many darn articles about those silly "fool-cells" that we all know are never going to happen! ;P
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't mean to pick on you 2 Wheel, I really don't, but can we lay off the "slow news day" quips? They are getting really stale. There will be stories that you or I may not want to read on ABG, but how much does it hurt us to skip them? Writing a daily blog about a very narrow segment of one industry is tough. I actually like these "real world application" stories, and I've lived right down the hill from Pasadena, so this might actually interest me. If not, I scroll right on past. Any of us can start our own green car blog where we only post what interests us, but I think ABG does a good job balancing stories from the OEM press mills, educational pieces, policy posts, and reports from average folks on the ground.
        And yes, sometimes it is a slow news day. No use dogpiling the poor folks on the blogger treadmill. They are already sweating it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Totally agreed that it is in part the business model. Undoubtedly they are given a quota of postings. I too wish that they tied through to more copy in the mainstream press and the green press. I'd love to see frequent links to someone like Dave Roberts, who covers alternative energy closely. But I guess that a little more gratitude is what I'm hoping for. I know how hard daily writing can be. Honey and vinegar dude!
        • 4 Years Ago
        ""LTAW; i would say a lot of posts on here are of low quality. The lack of intelligent selection of content doesn't bring in intelligent people, and that's the result."

        So, you think that ABG is low quality, and the people who post here are unintelligent. You're certainly a charmer, aren't you? Kind of like Dan Frederiksen and that new Frank T fellow."

        That is not what i meant at all, but good job turning it into a character attack.

        I have seen a brain drain on here going on for a while now. A lot of the more intellectual and informative posters are leaving, and not coming back.
        I'm not saying that ALL the posters aren't intelligent and ALL the posts are of low quality.
        Does that compute, LTAW?

        As for autoblog green not taking my tips, my experience is not unique. I have seen other people on here complain about it, then proceed to post the really interesting link in the comments since it won't be published.

        I always include a comment to explain why the article should be here / relates to electric cars / is special or newsworthy.
        Nonetheless, my tips have fallen on deaf ears and i'm not alone.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I like this post:

        "Does ‘sustainable transportation’ mean better cars or fewer cars?"

        "In virtually every city I'm familiar with, officials are attempting to revitalize downtown districts or create new, dense, walkable, mixed-use developments. They're trying to create places where people don't need to drive. Why? Because people love those places!"

        "On the other hand, though, I have some sympathy with automakers. They have to design for the world, and the policy regime, that actually exists. They can't be in the business of betting on public policy that isn't yet real. If it were a national goal to unwind sprawl, densify development, and build out inter- and intra-city public transit -- if there were clear signals from national and local officials that America is heading in that direction -- automakers might feel more confident designing cars that are suited to dense urban living."

        Which sums up my feelings succinctly. If more people lived where it made sense - near work, education, and cultural centers - they wouldn't need cars at all! If there were an adequate high-speed rail network interlinking medium-sized cities, wouldn't life be grand - and an adequate network of buses inside those cities? That's my dream too. The suburbs were a tragic design mistake, and led us down a road to ruin.

        But, he's realistic. The automakers know that not everyone lives with a short commute, that not everyone lives in an ideal climate. That not everyone can neatly segment their lives out into 100-miles trips; those people especially aren't interested in having multi-hour layovers between those segments. People are busy, and they're used to filling up and moving on...

        I agree, the better alternative would be to plan a future that requires fewer cars. Thing is, people who live in cities already don't really need cars. And the people in the suburbs generally want more car than is good for them. I won't claim him as a New Urbanist brother yet, but I can see his inclination....

        "Now Honda guy would probably say, we have to build the cars consumers want, and what consumers want is big, powerful, long-range cars. They want the cars they have now, only less dirty. We respond to demand."

        That's why the automakers are looking at EVs that have cargo and range capabilities beyond what pure battery power can provide. If batteries can catch up and deliver, great. If not, the car makers have another plan ready to roll in just a few years' time.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Boys, boys! We all want ABG to get better! Let's not attack each other or try and throw each other out. You both make good contributions. Save the hate for the true trolls, not the valued posters. And 2wheel, keep those good links coming in the comments!
        • 4 Years Ago
        There aren't any alternatives that i know of, so sorry, you won't be getting rid of me anytime soon :)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well i don't know about you, but i'd rather have less filler.
        There are days where it is all filler. I think they are meeting a quota so they can get X ad impressions per day.

        That is not good journalism, and they are not poor bloggers.. this is a business and they are making money.

        ABG is quite neglected compared to autoblog. Look at how many stories have 0 comments and are fairly useless. There are many posts on autoblog that belong here, but don't make it here even though the same company produced the same content. There are many other green technology posts out there floatin' on the interwebs that would fit the subject matter here too.

        So it can be done better, with less filler, if someone over there at HQ was willing to make it happen.

        No, i'm not starting a blog. That's not my area of expertise.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Spence

        Got any links to the Dave Roberts fellow you mention? I did a google search - I suppose he's the Grist.org writer?

        I follow physorg.org, fuelcellsworks.com (of course) automotivenews, and sae.org most frequently. I also keep up with the DoE and EERE programs for testing and research validation. Mostly actual news and hard science sites - the kind that get linked to by ABG as sources - and not so much opinion or politics oriented. I get enough of that here, LOL.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, please enjoy whichever blog you decide to move on to.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "described how his quest to locate a suitable plug for the Chevy Volt in the city of Pasadena turned into a journey he'll likely never forget"

      Really? I've never been to Pasadena, but I always assumed they had 120V outlets. If that's not available, I have to wonder if they have indoor plumbing too.
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