GM Ups Volt Charge Rate  



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Sunday July 8, 2018 GM Ups Volt Charge Rate During the life of a car each model usually goes through a number of changes ranging from major redesigns to small changes know as a mid-cycle refresh.  GM has just announced the specs for a mid-cycle refresh for the 2019 Volt and while most of the changes are pretty minor, it does include one rather important update. 


First the minor change.  They are adding a couple of additional color option, for the exterior Pacific Blue Metallic will be added, while for the interior Black/Porcelain will be available on the Premier trim level.  There will also be some additional dealer-installed options.  The 2019 Volt will add the new Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system that includes an 8 inch touchscreen.  A new app will show how driving style, route, weather conditions, and cabin comfort settings will impact range.  A new setting will allow the driver to delay engine starting to provide heat in cold weather to not kick in until  temperatures reach as low as -13F.  There will also be some enhancements to the pedestrian alert system.


Now for the big change, GM has upped the charge rate from the Volt from 3.3 KW to 7.2 KW.  At full rate this will allow the Volt to get about 25 miles per hour of charge and make it able to fully charge in as little as 2.3 hours.  The faster charger will be standard on the Premier trim level but will come as an option on the LT trim level.


The faster charging rate really won't help much with overnight charging at home so why is this so important? 
The faster charging rate makes the use of public charge much more beneficial and can greatly extend the amount of electric vehicle miles traveled since an hour of charging at a public charger now means 25 miles of range instead of about 10 miles of range.  This means that it is more likely that someone can get to their destination without running the gas engine.  Even when travelling it means charging during a stop for lunch will give the driver a much longer electric only distance once they get back on the highway.  For public charging infrastructure it means that drivers will not have to tie up the charger for as long allowing someone else to use it.  It should be noted that some public chargers are limited to 6.3KW but even at that charge rates will be much faster.


Cost of public charging also plays a big role.  Most of the new chargers being installed are set to charge by the hour so the cost per mile varies depending on how fast you can charge.  The faster the charge the cheaper the cost per mile traveled.

This is the biggest problem I have with my Prius Plug-in.  It comes with  a wimpy 2.4 KW charger.  If I charge at the Century City Shopping Center it cost 95 cents per hour so a 1 hour charge, resulting in about 8 miles of range and would be the equivalent of paying around $6 per gallon for gas.


The current model Chevy Volt, the Prius Prime, and most other plug-in hybrids currently available use a 3.3 KW charger.  At this rate charging the Prius would result in an equivalent cost of $4.31 per gallon which is a pretty close the what we pay for a gallon of gas here in LA.


The Honda Clarity Plug-in has an even faster charger, allowing the car to charge at 6.6 KW.  At this rate charging costs would come down to $2.16 per gallon.


At 7.2 KWs the Volt charger would drop the equivalent cost per gallon down to about $1.90 per gallon making public charging much more cost effective.


Let me just say here that I made the calculations based on my Prius Plug-in which can get at least 50mpg so that numbers would remain constant to illustrate the point.  Calculations change based on the actual mpg of the car.  The current Volt for example is rated at a combined 42 mpg once the battery is depleted so the equivalent gas cost would be a little higher at around $2.26 per gallon but still a significant saving verses using gas.


Clearly, if you need to use public charging the faster charge rates of the Volt and Honda Clarity will make them more cost effective.  I'm not sure this will have any impact on most peoples decision on which car to by but it has certainly put the 2019 Volt to the top of my list for when I upgrade from the Prius Plug-in.


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