2012 Chevy Volt Passes 300K Miles, Owner Says “No Difference In Battery Since The Day I Bought It”

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Originally published on EV Obsession.

A 2012 Chevy Volt owner by the name of Erick Belmer recently surpassed the 300,000 mile mark in his plug-in hybrid — potentially giving some new insight into the durability of the popular model.

Of the more than 300,000 miles on the Volt, more than a third (over 105,000) were in the all-electric mode — which, interestingly, has had only a minimal effect on battery performance.

Volt Erick Belmer

“There’s no difference in the battery since the day I bought it,” Belmer noted during a recent phone interview with GM-Volt (given during his 110-mile each-way work commute). “I still get the same amount of EV miles I did when it was new.”

During the interview, Belmer also noted that his 2012 Chevy Volt with 300,000 miles on it was still running just as smoothly as his wife’s 2013 Volt with 96,000 miles on it.

“It rides just like my wife’s Volt,” Belmer stated. “We can’t tell them apart.”

GM Volt provides more:

Of these miles, more than 105,000 have been all-electric for the extended-range EV purchased April 2012, and it is one of the highest mileage Volts in a private customer’s hands having accrued miles at an exceptional rate.

In the 47 months that Belmer has owned it, he’s averaged 6,393 total miles per month, and of these, 2,236 miles have been on battery power alone. Just the EV miles are close to double the distance an average driver travels, and when we last checked on Belmer mid December 2015, he’d crossed the 100,000 EV-mile mark, and was believed to have been the world’s first to have done so. To date, the vehicle has been remarkably trouble free, said Belmer.

A millwright at General Motors’ Lordstown Complex and assembly plant where they build the Chevy Cruze, Belmer said he was faced with the long commute when the local GM plant he was working at closed down a few years ago. In the interest of staying near to aging parents and other community ties, when he was relocated by GM, Belmer and his wife decided the commute, while self-sacrificial, would be in their family’s best interest. But, they wanted a car that would be economical to run, and the Volt was chosen, said Belmer, after he and his wife – an accountant – determined that of all potential cars to draft into epic commuter duty, the Volt would make the most economic sense.

A determination that appears to have been the correct one, going by the figures below:

Volt stats

Worth noting here is that General Motors provides free employee charging at the Lordstown facility where Belmer works.

“This is the only car that I ever purchased that I feel I got more than I paid for it,” stated Belmer.

Image Credits: Erick Belmer; Volt Stats

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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36 thoughts on “2012 Chevy Volt Passes 300K Miles, Owner Says “No Difference In Battery Since The Day I Bought It”

  • Battery thermal management. Volt has it. Tesla has it. Nissan doesn’t.

  • GM also made a large battery capacity buffer in the Volt so that it’s guaranteed battery range is not that affected after the warranty. Nissan uses tiny buffer to maximize its EPA range advertised and has suffered the consequences of rapidly losing range through the miles of usage.

    After the Gen 1 Volt, and further improvements of battery packs that has active battery thermal management, GM was confident to make the buffer smaller compared to overall capacity in Gen 2 Volts. With a rate of 2 faulty packs per million the LG Chem battery packs used in Volt are super wow!!!

    • Yes that is a similar method used for critical LED light source applications like light projectors.

      They run the LED’s at 80% brightness from new and using a light sensor they ramp up the current and light output as the LED’s age so to the consumer it’s a consistent light output that meets specification throughout it’s service life or warranty period.

  • Wow, that is impressive, I hope GM has this family on a commercial soon. That is some hard daily driving. 100+ miles 2 hours one way. I feel his pain.

    I live outside of Boston and it takes me 1.5 hours to go 40 miles.

    Will need to look at the Volt next time I am in the mood for a car, but I would prefer all wheel drive, the winter roads (not this year) are difficult.

    • Volt with winter tires is actually quite good – mine has handled this slushy Maine winter just fine. The stability control seems very well executed.

      That said, 15 days until Tesla unveils the Model III…

  • Amazing. I had a 1995 Honda Civic, and after it got over 100,000 miles, it broke down often, and costed me over $2,000 in repairs, before I sold it for $300, to get rid of it. Did his Chevy Volt last 300,000 miles without expensive repairs. Even if it was under warranty and the repairs were covered, I’d still like to know. I hear a lot of talk about how newer cars can last well over 200,000 miles, but I have never had a car last more than 100,000 miles. It’s hard to believe any car could last 300,000 miles without a major repair or engine over hall.

    • I believe he’s replaced some wheel bearings, but that is about it.

    • If you have never had a car last over 100k, it might be your driving habits. Every new car I have ever owned went pass 100k before I sold them, all were still running with one exception. My 1978 Chevy Chevette Scotter (that was the stripped down base model). It had 175k on it when I hit black ice and shorten it 12 inches on the concrete divider.
      I have only kept two past 200k, a Mazda that needed head casket at ~175k and the clutch plate at ~225k. No other major repairs, I don’t count oil change, grease, brake pads, or tires as major. Oh and I have replace a muffler twice and one CV boot over time on different cars. Or course it is only in the last two models that I stop buying a “stick” so we will see how things go.

      • Oh, there are a lot of models which don’t last 100K miles. If you buy the models with all the black marks for repair record in Consumer Reports…

    • Something is very wrong with your driving, I have had 2 cars (still driving one). A 1997 odyssey with 190k before it got hit while parked and pushed onto the sidewalk and a 2003 accord with 188k still driving good, never spent more than $800 on any repair.

    • The Honda Civic is usually a very reliable car and many last 20 years and/or 200K miles. The trick is maintaining fluids. You must use the proper oil for your vehicle, change it regularly and keep brake, coolant and transmission fluids at proper levels and fix any leaks. You also need to have timing belts/chains replaced at recommended intervals. I suspect that you may be driving in a hash climate with extreme cold, heat, sand, dust, steep inclines or you’ve been towing a trailer or accelerating very aggressively. If you’ve had a catastrophic mechanical engine failure on a modern vehicle, is likely due to leaking seals, gaskets, a worn timing belt or failure to change fluids – problems that are typically prevented with regular maintenance. I drove a 1990 Toyota Corolla for 20 years and 190K miles and I never had a repair over $600. My mom’s 1995 Toyota Camry is still running reliably with 130K miles. She had never had a repair over $700 until recently when major leaks resulted in a $2000 tab. The car is in otherwise excellent condition and has low mileage for its age, so she decided to get it fixed instead of buying a new one. Two grand is only seven or eight payments on a 2016 model. If the repair gets you another 12 months or relatively trouble-free driving, it’s probably worth it.

  • When you stay in the middle SOC batteries last. When you run an EV down below 20% maybe not.

    • He has driven over 100k EV miles so he probably completely cycled those batteries pretty often. I don’t think he had them on middle SOC for long periods of time.

  • GM should offer this guy a brand new Volt when his finally dies.

    • Along with a TV commercial.

    • So…. in another 300k miles? The battery is brand new…!

      • True. I was also thinking this guy could put a crap ton of miles on a 2017 for real life testing.

  • So 47.2MWh and 5,270 gallons of gasoline in under 5 years?
    For comparison, same distance;
    Nissan Leaf 85.5MWh
    Toyota Prius 6,132 gallons

    I’ve said it B4 and will once more, it’s better to be one or the other, hybrid ICE or Pure EV, otherwise it’s too heavy for gasoline.

    I apologize if this seems negative, it’s just math.

    • Yes. Thats right. Prius also has long battery life. Dont get too wowed by commercials. Volt is way more expensive than a Prius. GM is trying to defend its decision to invest in PHEV instead of EV, but hedging with the Bolt. They still intend to use PHEV for their line up. Have not learned yet.

      • 🙂

        • Ahh no. I get in trouble for injecting any objections sometimes. Not trying to be disagreeable. Just trying to keep it real.
          Think of it this way. I might have my likes and dislikes, we all do. But what happens is we make the bed we lay in.
          If I say this thing is great and it isn’t, I may be stuck with what I wish for. So better keep it real.
          I often say, people don’t buy Teslas because they are EVs. They buy them because they are great cars.
          The Volt is decent. But lets not get carried away here. And this blurb about battery life is kinda adverts for GM.
          To be balanced we have to look at the whole thing. I like what was said about how you end up with about the same gas consumption as a Prius. For thousands more.
          Even a Prius doesn’t make sense compared to a Leaf, at least on the basis of cost of ownership.
          Operation and maintenance are an achilles heel of all ICE based vehicles.
          Everyone is focused on gas prices, but maintenance cost is a big deal.
          So is ownership experience. Not having gas pumping hassles, vibration, noise, fumes, dealership repairs and maintenance. It all adds up. Or down.

          • Better to be objective than blindly subjective..

          • Very true, I agree with you on pretty much everything… but there’s currently still a real market segment that an 80-100 mile electric car won’t hit. The guy in this article would have been better to go with a prius than his volt because of his driving habits (or maybe even a tesla – would have to run the numbers).

            But what about the people who drive 30 miles per day and then go on semi-regular weekend trips… a Leaf wouldn’t have enough range, but a prius would burn gas every day. A volt-like car could be fully electric during the week (which would cover the majority of miles) but still allow long trips on a regular basis. Is it perfect? No, not even close, but pretty much every car is a compromise in some way. But like you said – let’s call this what it is – it’s a very good option for many as a bridge car until fully electric cars satisfy more of the market.

          • I agree. Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for people who need the Volt. But that is not what auto mfrs are shooting for. They want the easy way. One size fits all and market domination with their own chosen technology.

    • you neglect to mention all the time waiting for a charge in the Leaf since his daily commute would require stopping each way to charge.

      • I didn’t neglect the detail. I wasn’t mentioning situational convience, just ground covered.
        Stand alone stats, not trying to account for anything beyond ecologic/resource footprint.

    • It’s just Math… so lets do it. 47.2 MWh is equivalent to 1400 gallons of gas, using the EPA’s 33.7 kwh to a gallon equivalence. That would make the volt’s energy use equivalent to ~ 6,670 Gallons of gas. So about 8.7% more than the Prius. This guy’s commute was about the best case scenario for the Prius over the Volt and it can only manage to be 8.7% more efficient.

      Now your numbers would put the Prius lifetime MPG at 49 mpg. Very optimistic considering all these miles would be highway. My girlfriends 3rd gen Prius has a lifetime mileage of 39.8 last time I checked. So lets assume 40 mpg, and you would get 7,512 gallons used in this scenario. Now what would this guy have gotten with a Prius? I have no idea but it could have easily come under the EPA rating.

      The leaf could never do a commute like this.

      TL:DR Guy who averages 290 miles a work day would have been 8.7% more energy efficient in a Prius if he managed 49mpg. I think the Volt held up dam well in probably the worst case scenario for it.

      • It’s not my fault you friend drives a Prius like a drag racer.

        • There must be something wrong with the Volt miles/kWh… 2.22 is not typical. most Volts get about 3.5 miles/kWh. I get about 3 in colder weather, 4 or above in warm weather.

          • The 2012 Volt which drove these miles has a ’16kWh’ battery and a 35-38mile electric only range. .
            In truth measured high as 17.1kWh, so I used the potential peaks, 38/17.1, 2.22222. If you prefer 36.5/16, 2.281.

          • ok, I see the issue here, you’re using the *total* battery size, not the *usable* size. It’s 16 kWh, but only about 10 is used.


            “For the 2011/2012 model years, the battery pack stores 16 kWh of energy but it is controlled or buffered via the energy management system to use only 10.3 kWh of this capacity to maximize the life of the pack. For this reason the battery pack never fully charges or depletes, as the software only allows the battery to operate within a state of charge (SOC) window of 65%, after which the engine kicks in and maintains the charge near the lower level. ”

            38/10.3= 3.68 miles/kWh

          • Well that’s a horse of a different color.

        • There must be something wrong with the Volt miles/kWh… 2.22 is not typical. most Volts get about 3.5 miles/kWh. I get about 3 in colder weather, 4 or above in warm weather.

  • This is consistent with experience with the prius. It validates the claim that batteries operated near the center of their state of charge have vastly greater cycle life times.
    The Volt only uses about half its charge capacity operated as a hybrid. That is, the battery discharges at about 75% full charge and charges at about 25% full charge.

    Also, in terms of calendar life, the amount of time at full charge is a negative factor.

    So keep in mind, in EV mode, the battery can use full capacity for range and may cycle from full charge to discharge.

    Once again, this does not affect cycle life much if done infrequently. If the battery is discharged from 100% right after charging it spends little time at max charge, there is little effect on calendar life.

    Also, if the owner is careful to never let charge drop below 20%, there is little effect on cycle life.

    Hybrids achieve long life with those things designed in.

    With Tesla, its achieved by conservative design, and by programming charging to be 80% in city use, and by making the battery so large that its full capacity is rarely used for most drivers.

  • It also says much about the high quality of the battery from LG Chem. No wonder why GM works much more closely with LG.

    • Jumping to conclusions there, you are.

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