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Chevy Volt Experiencing Electric Mileage Drops In The Heat

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On: Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 11:28AM | By: Chris Weiss


Chevy Volt Experiencing Electric Mileage Drops In The Heat

A few weeks ago, we reported that some Nissan Leaf owners have been experiencing battery capacity issues. Those owners were concentrated in hot states, supporting the fact that hot weather will be an obstacle for electric vehicle performance. Now that it's a scorching mid-July, Chevy Volt owners are reporting some problems with battery performance.

Unlike the Nissan Leaf issues, which were focused on the amount of charge that the battery could hold, the Chevy Volt complaints, which have surfaced on the GM-Volt.com forums, relate to decreased range. The original poster of the thread claims that his all-electric mileage has dropped from 43 miles to around 32.5 miles because of hot weather and air conditioning. While some posters mention little to no loss, at least two other posters mention similar drops.

The idea that an electric car's range would drop as a result of running air conditioning or other electrical equipment isn't news. EV manufacturers and the Environmental Protection Agency are careful to explain that actual driving mileage is affected by many factors. Running electrical equipment like air conditioning will naturally run the battery down more quickly than driving without it. Also, batteries themselves operate more optimally in moderate temperatures.

"Batteries are like humans when it comes to operating at peak performance in various climates — they operate best at a comfortable temperature," Michelle Bunker Malcho, a GM spokesperson, told AutoGuide. “That means that if it’s either extremely cold or hot where an EV is operating, range will be affected. This is true of any EV, not just the Volt."

In other words, the Volt may lose range even if you sweat it out and don't run the air conditioning. Battery performance fluctuation in extreme temperatures may be normal, but it will be interesting to see if headlines about weather-related performance decreases have any impact on sales, particularly sales in locations where excessively hot or cold temperatures are the norm.

Luckily for Volt owners, the range-extending gas engine is there to pick up any slack caused by hot July afternoons. Chevy rates the 2013 Volt's electric range at 38 all electric miles and gas + electric range at 380 miles. A loss in all electric range could mean extra fuel costs, but it shouldn't leave anyone stranded.




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