New Improved 2013 Volt - Now Charges 30 Percent Slower (Push "Leaf" Button To Fix)

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
new improved 2013 volt now charges 30 percent slower push leaf button to fix
In late 2011, photos of melted and damaged Volt charging cords appeared on the internet. GM initially blamed wiring problems in the electrical outlets, eventually, the company announced that they would replace all the 120V chargers in all 2011 and some 2012 models with a new unit. About 9,500 charging units were replaced.When the 2013 model came around, Volt owners were faced with a new and improved feature: Longer charge time. In self-help groups on the Internet, the culprit was quickly found: GM had reduced the default circuit load of the charger from 12 Ampere to 8 Ampere. Then, a low intensity war on the message boards ensued, and is still rages on. Here the latest dispatches from the front:Volt owners found out that there is a way to make the Volt charge at 12 Ampere and therefore faster. But that is buried a few levels deep in a maze of menus – and most annoyingly, it can’t be made sticky. Must wade through menus every time. Of course, the most practical solution would be to use the 240V charger on a 240 V circuit (something yours truly could install in a few hours, including a trip to the hardware store), but owners confess that they are too lazy/stingy to do that, and the complaints continue. “Melissa” of “Chevrolet Customer Svc” intervened. Chevrolet must have the matter outsourced, because Melissa identified herself as an “Associate of Morley Companies, Inc.” On its website, Morley introduces itself as a “group travel, business theater, interactive, research, performance improvement, exhibit, display and experiential marketing firm,” which more than establishes its credentials to handle the matter. Especially after its associates receive some remedial English lessons.Melissa informed the frustrated Volt owners that it’s not a bug, it’s a feature:“As a safety feature the Volt will automatically default to the 8amps. This was designed by the engineers as a safeguard the Volt needs. This is to assist and remind owners that the Volt needs to be on a dedicated, grounded, oriented outlet on an individual circuit to be able to charge. This feature is to prevent the outlet getting “warm” and overheating.”To change from 8A to 12A, says Melissa, is very simple. It also reminds the Volt owner that there is a competing product from Nissan:“The 2013 owners only have to push the “Leaf” button, select the charging tab, then charge level, and then push the amps they would like to charge at. You can change this level while driving. “Oops. Don’t let Ray LaHood read that last. No, you can’t make the 12A setting sticky, and don’t hold your breath that this will ever change:“This is the way the Volt was designed for the 2013, there will not be an option to retrofit, or change the charge cord charging design. We truly do value your feedback regarding this safety feature.”Howls of protests ensued. “This is absolutely idiotic form a usability stand point.” You honestly want us to push FOUR times?Yep, says Melissa. “I understand your frustration for the safety feature and we appreciate your feedback for the option.”That exchange happened in early September. It did not appease the Volt owners, and the discussion is raging on, wisely sans Melissa. Tired of talking to themselves, enraged 100 Volt owners widened the conflict. Complaints appeared in comment sections of Forbes. Expect more elsewhere. TTAC just received a reader’s letter, complete with headline! (See above.)BS comment: Of course, pushing buttons four times won’t make charging at 12A any safer, and it won’t help the outlet keep its cool. It simply gives GM opportunity to instruct the user each and every time of the potential hazards, and (hopefully) lets GM off the hook. A standard three prong (with ground) U.S. outlet is good for 15 Amp, should be connected to a 15A wring with a 15A breaker, and therefore plenty for a 12A load. If something else is on the line, the breaker should blow. Note the shoulds.
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  • Art  Vandelay Art Vandelay on Dec 06, 2012

    Why would I go all out and shell out Volt money and then skimp on the charger. In the grand scheme of things I wouldnt think it would be significant in the overall ownership cost even if I had to have an electrician come out and install a 220 circuit, and I live in an 80 year old house (The wiring has been upgraded over the years however). Is the 220 charger that much more expensive?

    • See 2 previous
    • Mfennell Mfennell on Dec 06, 2012

      @Dr. Kenneth Noisewater Because they'll get cheaper/have higher capacity, and you don't need one now? Another Volt owner risking life, limb, and property with nightly 12A charging.

  • Phil Ressler Phil Ressler on Jun 05, 2013

    I've been driving a 2013 Volt for most of my transport the past six months. My 450hp and 550hp cars have seen sharply reduced use. The facts of my experience are dramatic. My lifetime average of miles driven relative to gasoline consumed is currently 134 mpg. On my current tank of gasoline, so far gasoline economy is 178 mpg. What about the cost of electricity? Well, I'm a homeowner buying power from the Los Angeles Dept of Water & Power, and frankly looking at my year-over-year usage, charging the Volt is barely visible in my utility bill. I intend to install a 240V charger, but haven't gotten around to it yet, so I am charging at 120V/12A. I've only used a public charger once in six months. I live in a city divided by a mountain range running through the middle of it. Since the 2013 Volt allows the driver to choose when to burn gasoline while holding battery-stored LADWP power for level terrain or city speeds, I actively choose whether to drive my electric car from power stored in the battery or power generated from the gasoline-fueled generator according to conditions. I have no compunction about using gasoline as the generating fuel for my electricity when doing so will make a trip holistically efficient, but I also burn as little gasoline as I can. The Volt has a 9 gallons tank. I am typically buying 5 - 7 gallons about every six weeks. My Volt's battery-stored electricity range has so far ranged from a low of 34 miles on a 30 degs F night, to 53 in 75 degs F temperature on mostly level terrain and disciplined (but not slower than traffic) driving. On 100+ degs days, my range is typically 42 miles. When I have had to use gasoline to extend range for some sustained miles, liquid-fuel-only economy has ranged from 35 - 48mpg depending on how aggressively I choose to drive, and how much climbing a trip requires. My sustained average for gasoline-fueled driving in the Volt is 42mpg, city or highway. Would a 50+ mpg parallel hybrid use less gasoline compared to the Volt running on gasoline alone? Sometimes. But 59 mpg isn't 134. Nor 178. BTW, I bought my Volt; I didn't lease it. And as much as anything it is a test run of the Voltec platform for me to determine whether I like it enough to spend even more on a Cadillac ELR next year. So while the fuel efficiencies and the sharply reduced costs of driving relative to my recent cars are interesting, cost isn't a prime mover for me. The Volt is the least expensive car I bought in the last 20 years in inflation-adjusted terms, and the least expensive in the last ten years in raw dollar terms. There are further reasons to love the Volt. One is, it's quiet. Damned quiet. Once you get accustomed to the serenity of it, ICE cars begin to seem acoustically intrusive. I love the sounds of a big V8 but the absence of them makes renewed exposure to them less beguiling. Another is that the Volt feels structurally strong and exceptionally stable. There's some protest now and then from the low-rolling-resistance tires but handling is satisfying for a fwd car. I'm 6'3"; the Volt has excellent seats. Yes, I have leather. Even in our 106 degs F hot days in the San Fernando Valley, I have not had to use anything more than the "Eco" setting on climate control to stay cool. In the winter, during nights in the 30s, same to keep warm. The car warms the seats before it spends energy warming the full space. No one wants to be the fifth person in a Prius so the four-place arrangement of the Volt is fine with me, and those back seats are comfortable too, for anyone who fits. I can actually fit back there too, behind a smaller driver -- better than in too many larger cars. The hatchback bay holds plenty and then the rear seats fold flat too. Volt isn't a monster accelerator 0-60, but its performance 0-35 is excellent by any measure, and power delivery is completely, creamy, smooth. These are perfect characteristics for getting around a large city, especially one as diverse in terrain as Los Angeles. And the opportunities for substantial regen are numerous on every drive. Meanwhile, when I do get a 240V charger, I expect my gasoline use to plunger further still. We have climate change upon us, for both natural and anthropogenic reasons. But forget about climate change. We have a much more strongly positive correlation between rising CO2 in the atmosphere and ocean acidity. And then there are simple indignities of modern economic life, like refiners and fuel distributors using zone pricing for gasoline, and exporting California fuels while a shortage in-state "justifies" price increases. "Coincidental" shutdowns of multiple refineries for maintenance. We could have falling CO2 levels and still one can be happy to step away from petroleum antics even a little bit. Would I be able to effectively use an 80 miles range battery-only EV? Not as my only car. I couldn't make it to Orange County, San Diego, Santa Barbara or Palm Springs on a single charge, which are of course no problem with my Volt. But A Chevy Spark EV or Ford Focus EV could completely cover the majority of my Los Angeles local driving. The CTS-V lease is up early next year. I can't say I haven't considered becoming a two-charger household. When I first heard Volt drivers say "this is the best car I've ever owned..." I wondered what they drove before. Then I bought one, and now I understand perfectly. Phil

  • RHD The price will also be a huge factor. Most websites expect it to start at around 50K. Add in the dealer fees, taxes, markup, options and assorted nonsense, it'll probably easily pass 60 grand. A Chrysler Pacifica starts around 38K. The real test will be if anyone with nostalgia for the old VW Van/Kombi/Station Wagon/Bus/Etc. will be motivated to actually buy one. Once the new and unique wears off, its innate excellence (or lack thereof) will determine its long-term success.
  • Carlson Fan I think it is pretty cool & grew up with a '75 Ford window van so I can attest to their utility. $60K is a lot for any vehicle and I'm not convinced EV's are ready for prime time for a number of reasons. It would make an awesome 2nd or 3rd vehicle in a multi-car household but again the price would keep most from considering it.I agree with the other comments that those who have to have it will buy it and then sales will drop off. Offer a panel version for the commercial market, that could have possibilities.
  • Wjtinfwb Panther Black? or Black Panther? Shaped like a decade old Ford detectives sedan? Seems like an odd way to send out your marquee car...
  • Kwik_Shift Instead of blacked, how about chromed? Don't follow the herd.
  • Carlson Fan Nicest looking dash/gage cluster ever put in any PU truck. After all these years it still looks so good.