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Chevrolet Volt – Extending Electric Driving Range

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Driving range, as in most vehicles, is important in a Chevrolet Volt. The importance, however, of the electric range of the Volt in particular is not as significant in contrast to a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) such as the Nissan Leaf. The Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid car, a feature which can be considered as a range extender. For this particular vehicle, although cold weather does impact driving range, it is not as detrimental as it would be for a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).

BEVs are all about the battery. Instead of gasoline, electric cars need batteries to run. Typically, these batteries are heavily affected by temperature. Think of a cellphone in cold weather: the battery life decreases more rapidly. In colder temperatures, the chemical reaction that takes place inside the batteries yields less current, and the batteries quickly reach a state where they can no longer supply the current required to meet the demands of the device. This means we would have to charge our phones more frequently in order to keep them working.  Thankfully, this is only temporary.  With the Volt, the same principle applies, but not to the same extent.

When temperature becomes colder, degradation in range is not permanent! Don’t fret and feel like your battery is totalled. With lower temperatures, EVs tend to have a lowered maximum available driving range based on different conditions including starting state of charge, auxiliary load, and temperature.

After investigating the effect of temperature on the 2011 Chevrolet Volt for over a year, we noticed when a fairly sudden change in temperature occurred, there was also a sudden change in driving range. This often happened when temperatures were changing considerably. As can be seen on the graph below, driving ranges were typically higher at elevated temperatures.

rangevtempchevyvolt  rangevtempchevyvoltmiles

During colder months, we also take auxiliary load into account. On the graph below, we can see that the auxiliary load tends to be higher when the temperature is lower due the increase in heating usage.  Since this load is higher, the energy being released from the battery must be distributed to more regions within the vehicle, and thus reducing range even more.

auxvtempchevyvoltauxvtempchevyvoltmiles

Although the Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid, it is still affected by colder temperatures; drivers should expect a temporary drop in driving range when seasons change. A few tips to consider when driving your Chevrolet Volt on colder days: reduce the amount of heat used, allow extra time for recharging, and store your vehicle inside.

Check out : http://green.autoblog.com/2011/01/18/chevy-volts-hvac-system-designed-for-grueling-winter-weather/ to see how the HVAC system was redesigned to prevent battery drained

 

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