Chevy Has Had to Replace Zero Degraded Volt Batteries Yet
They just keep going...and going...and going...
How long has the Chevrolet Volt been on the market? The first Volts appeared for the 2011 model year at the end of 2010, making the first Volts sold around six years old, now. So, as the Volts gradually get older and older, we are creeping up on one of the highest concerns of electric vehicle ownership: battery degradation. Surely there are some Volts that have gotten new batteries over the range reduction.
As it turns out, GM’s response to whether they had gotten a lot of battery swaps is “No. And don’t call me Shirley.” In fact, there haven’t just been a low number of people getting a new battery due to reduced capacity, there haven’t been any. According to GM at a press event at Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant, “a grand total of zero Volt packs have been replaced because of ‘general capacity degradation.’”
This is despite some Volts racking up some seriously high mileage, like the one driven by Erick Belmer, which passed 300,000 total miles travelled several months ago, and likely has added far more miles since then.
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So how can the Volt battery pack last for so long while constantly being charged and discharged? As it turns out, through careful management to keep the Volt from bottoming out or topping off. To begin with, the Volt doesn’t use all of the energy capacity, with the first-generation Volt drawing only 10 kWh from its 16 kWh battery pack. Then, while the car is driving, it will only allow the battery to go as low as 20% to 25% of the total capacity before the gas motor kicks on, and will only go up to 85% to 90% when “fully charged.” In addition, the car uses a temperature control system to prevent the battery from getting too hot or too cold and affecting total capacity.
Even when it does start to lose capacity, though, the car senses the loss and increases the amount of capacity accessible for use, lengthening the usable life of the battery pack. All in all, for the first-gen batteries, GM expects the very first Volt drivers to keep going another two years before anything starts to be noticeable at all, as it offers an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty (although, that still may not be the time for reduced range, since Erick Belmer has taken his three times that without calling for a replacement battery). Worst case, GM expects capacity to be reduced 10 to 30% of the total after 8 years.
To put it simply, the Volt’s battery packs seem to be holding up really well, even six years after the first Volt hit the roads. Kudos!
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Daniel Susco is a native of the Dayton-Cincinnati area, and has written on a multitude of subjects. He can discuss Shakespeare, expound on Classical Mythology, and even make witty jokes about Pliny the Elder (More like “Pliny the Rounder,” right?). In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, cooking, woodworking, and long walks on the beach (just kidding – sunburn is no joke). See more articles by Daniel.