Armen Hareyan's picture

Pure BEV vs Range Extender: Chevy Volt Owner Weighs In

If you owned a Nissan LEAF, what would you want a bigger battery or a range extender? I asked this question in a Nissan LEAF group and most LEAF owners supported the bigger battery option, but here is one Chevy Volt owner standing by range extender.

Ivan Jue from San Jose, CA comments, explaining why he prefers the Range Extender option.

A bit torn on this. Would love to go back to a BEV again. But having experienced battery degradation (20% in 2.5 years on our '11 Leaf), I can't go back to a pure BEV just yet.

All batteries will degrade. While the earlier Leaf batteries take it to the extreme, even a Model S battery will degrade over time and use (though at a much smaller rate--~1-2% a year). Tesla reps have already told me this multiple times.

The PHEV allows for larger buffers and TMS that would hopefully maximize longevity. One Volt owner ("sparkie") has already gone 230k (and counting) on his Volt (88k on battery) with little to no battery degradation. According to VoltStats (using Onstar) quite a few Volt owners are not far behind sparkie (again, no reports of battery degradation).

Yes I don't like having a range extender, as I easily use the battery range on my Volt on most days. But there are a few occasions when having the REx is a real blessing. Such as when the charging destination is occupied or not functional.

If I keep leasing, sure, I'd go back to a BEV. But since I put on too many miles and want the car to be useful for 10 years, I'll go with the range extender for now. The additional maintenance requirements on the Volt's ReX is very minimal--oil change every 2 years is really it.

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My wipe and I had a LEAF and a Volt concurrently, now we both have Soul EVs. Our next cars still be 200 mile+ EVs.

Another situation where the Volt makes a lot of sense are locations that get extremely cold in the winter, like Minnesota or Michigan. In these frigid winter conditions heating the cabin to a comfortable temperature takes a lot of juice, but the Volt allows the driver to control whether to use petrol or the battery to heat the cabin, as well as a combination of the two; it's simply ingenious. For most the Volt delivers a mpg so high that in practical terms it's essentially equivalent to an EV, while at the same time providing flexibility of energy sources for situations like long trips or where it simply makes the most sense.

The complexity of understanding the Volt's place is that these scenarios aren't apparent to first time EV buyers.