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The Chevy Volt was a popular hybrid car from General Motors. It was killed in late 2018 in favor of an all-electric future.

I love the Volt; I was one of the early buyers of the Volt, and I get a lot of emails from Volt buyers and I get it,” said [GM president Mark] Reuss. “But at the end of the day, if we can get the battery chemistry vertically integrated, correct, and cost-effective, and our control systems are taking everything we’ve learned from Bolt and Volt on how to use the battery to get more range and be cost effective… the customer is going to be much, much happier by doing a pure EV than a stopgap.

Chevy Volt reviews and news

The Volt wasn’t a failure by any means. As we learned in 2016, GM delivered its 100,000th Chevy Volt in the US and the fleet racked up 1.5 billion electric miles on a total of 2.5 billion.

It’s an interesting statistic, which shows that the Volt successfully replaced with electric miles 1.5 billion miles that would have normally been gas-powered, but it also highlights the need for fully electric vehicles since GM’s Volt fleet still used gas for an important 40% of its total mileage. Hopefully, the percentage will go down with the increase in electric range that came with the 2016 Volt, which now has a fully electric EPA rating of 53 miles.

For comparison, Tesla’s global fleet of roughly 150,000 vehicles travelled over 2.6 billion electric miles. While the fleet is slightly bigger, the Volt has been on the road for two more years.

Toward the end of its life, the Chevy Volt was getting better and better on an all-electric range. A 7.2 kW charging system cut recharging times nearly in half, by adding about twice the all-electric driving range per hour of charge (standard on Premier trim and available on LT trim).

The Chevy Volt was already the “most electric” of all plug-in hybrids, but the 2019 model year update made it even more electric than it already was.

Chevy Volt Pricing

Although the car is no longer being made, you can still find used models on various lots. Electrek has done the hard work of finding the best deals. Find the lowest purchase and lease price on our dedicated pricing pages.

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Environmentalists demand that Michael Moore’s anti-EV film be retracted

On Earth Day, a documentary entitled “Planet of the Humans” appeared on Michael Moore’s YouTube channel. You might expect a film from the acclaimed rabble-rousing film director, who served as executive producer, to champion the cause of clean-energy technology and electric vehicles. Instead, the movie characterizes solar and wind energy as a sell-out to corporate America. And EVs are just a means for utility companies to burn more coal.



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The 2019 Chevy Volt enables you to get more all-electric mileage

At Electrek, we try to focus on all-electric vehicles and not plug-in hybrids because they most often offer only very little electric range.

The Chevy Volt is the exception with its 53 miles of EPA range. It is enough for most people to cover their daily commute and we often hear about Volt owners not having to fill up their gas tank in months or even years.

Now with the 2019 model year, Chevy is enabling you to use the battery pack even more with faster charging and less reliance on the engine.

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2019 Chevy Volt gets double the Level 2 charging speed, some other niceties

GM today announced a somewhat minor upgrade to the 2019 Chevy Volt PHEV that will be available this fall.

Headlining the new feature set is an improved 240V charging system that will up the rate of charge from 3.6kW to 7.2kW or 16A to 32A. The move, which matches the charging rate of Chevy’s Bolt on Level 2, will give the Volt a full 53 mile EV charge in 2.3 hours according to Chevy. There is still no DC fast charging option for the Volt.

Other updates to the 2019 Volt include:



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GM announces partnership with Boston startup WiTricity to develop wireless charging technology

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Love it or hate it, wireless charging has been around for years. While stereotypically the technology comes with enough convenience issues to make most users question its superiority to traditional chorded tech, like any contemporary invention it has steadily improved over the past few years.

Earlier this week, a partnership was announced between Boston-area startup WiTricity and General Motors (GM), with the goal of developing wireless charging pads for electric vehicles.

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Canada reaches record numbers of electric car sales helped by launch of Tesla Model X & strong Volt sales

canada-ev-sales-q3-2016

The introduction of the Tesla Model X in Canada and consistently strong Chevy Volt sales helped the country reach record numbers of electric car sales during the last quarter. Canada now has a fleet of over 20,000 plug-in electric cars (BEV and PHEV) and added a record of over 3,300 electric cars in just the last quarter (July to September).

That’s 60% growth year over year.

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All-electric 818 kit car built with a Tesla drive unit and two Chevy Volt battery packs

electric 818

Tesla hacker Jason Hughes’ idea to build a car from two Tesla performance drive units, a few Tesla battery modules and two full Chevy Volt battery packs doesn’t seem so crazy now. It’s still crazy, just not “so crazy”. Ottawa-based car tuner and car shop, Eurodyne and Tapp Auto, just released a preview of a new race car using a similar setup, albeit not as powerful.

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GM delivers 100,000th Chevy Volt in the US, fleet racked up 1.5 billion electric miles on total of 2.5 billion

2016 Chevrolet Volt

GM announced today that it surpassed the 100,000 mark for Chevy Volt sales in the US – making the Volt the first plug-in vehicle to achieve the milestone. Interestingly, GM broke down the EV miles vs Gas miles driven by the fleet since its introduction in 2010.

The company says that Volt owners have driven “almost 1.5 billion miles in EV mode of a total 2.5 billion cumulative miles.”

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‘Tesla Hacker’ building a 1,000hp electric car using Tesla drivetrain and Chevy Volt batteries

WK057 madness

When Jason Hughes, best known as the ‘Tesla Hacker’ who first spotted the upcoming 100 kWh battery pack in the Model S’ OS, retrofitted a classic Tesla Model S P85 with an entire Autopilot hardware suite, something Tesla itself refuses to do because of the cost and complexity, we thought we just witnessed the apogee of his ‘Tesla hardware hacking’ experiments, but we were so very wrong.

We learned a little more about Hughes’ latest project this week and it could prove even more impressive technically speaking than his Autopilot retrofit, and certainly more spectacular.

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2017 Chevy Volt Review wrap up: All of the upside and none of the downside for ICE converts

Chevy Volt 2017-review

I’ve been forming my big picture opinion of the 2017 Chevy Volt over the past week and journaling the experience in a set of diary posts (1, 2, 3-4). It has definitely been a journey from my initial impressions to becoming extremely comfortable with the car in a matter of days.

Overwhelmingly, the 2017 Volt is a fantastic car that will fit into many people’s lives and probably be one of the most functional mass-market electric cars for the next 3 years. The numbers don’t lie – Volt sales are up while some EV competitors are down.

I say 3 years because I believe that is how long, give or take, it will take electric infrastructure in the US to be as convenient as gas – at which point it will become more convenient. Sure, almost every house, building and structure has an electrical outlet which can charge on level 1 or 2 (and the 2017 Volt does both levels of AC charging), meaning you wake up every morning with a full 53 mile “tank” of electricity. But to finally close the convenience gap of gasoline and frankly beyond, pure electric cars need to be outfitted with high power DC chargers and long range batteries — both of which the Volt lacks.

As a pure electric car owner, there are still a bunch of ski resorts in Vermont I can’t go to with my long range ‘200 mile’ electric car. To travel to my parents’ house in Ohio from New York, I need to avoid the straight shot Interstate 80 and dip down almost to Maryland to stay on the Supercharger route. Even going to an EV show in Montreal next month will require me to go 2-3 hours out of my way to stay charged up.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re close, but we’re not there yet with electric infrastructure. The case is being made but there are still many obstacles outside of the $1 Trillion dollar Oil industry.  For one, currently three different DC fast charging standards exist (Tesla, SAE and Chademo) so there’s work needed to either consolidate or build (more) adapters. DC charging will also speed up over the next few years. Teslas can currently charge at 135kW while most other EVs top out at 50kW. That means most DC charging “fill ups” will take at least 30 minutes.  But Tesla wants to take that down to 5-10 minutes by the time the Model 3 is released and has all but abandoned its under 90 second battery swap plan.

I’m currently willing to make these route/time sacrifices because I love EVs, clean air and my Tesla, but I don’t think mainstream users are OK with going hundreds of miles/several hours out of the way to make a medium-long trip electrically for the next few years.

That’s where the 2017 Volt fits in.

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2017 Chevy Volt Diary, Day 1: Delivery and setup

2017 Electric Blue Chevrolet Volt

2017 Electric Blue Chevrolet Volt

The fine folks at GM have given us a shiny new (OK, 500 miles) electric blue 2017 Chevy Volt to test drive for the next week. I’m keeping a diary of my experiences every day here and will wrap up the week with my conclusions. (Day 2, Day 3-4, Conclusion/Wrapup)

Day 1, Delivery and Setup

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Ford Focus Electric review: an impressive EV in need of a refresh

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I managed to come into a lease of a Ford Focus Electric starting in August 2013, and this is my review of my time with it. For a little bit more background on me, and my newest primary car, please check out my review of my Cadillac ELR here.

The Ford Focus Electric (FFE) is an excellent first all-electric car to market. Coming out starting in 2012, there was not much competition, and in my opinion it was the best all-electric on the market at the time.



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My Year with the Cadillac ELR Plug-in Luxury Coupe [Review]

IanELR

I have been an aficionado of electric cars ever since Tesla came up with their production roadster. I am writing this review because I noticed a gap of reviews, especially long-term ones, for my car, which is rarer than a Tesla roadster. I thought I would share my thoughts and experiences with my ELR I have now driven over 25k miles in.

Feel free to jump down to the review of the car if you like, but a little of my background and decision-making is helpful, which is why I provided this section.

MY BACKGROUND A little about me first, so that my logic and car evolution makes sense. I have lived all around the US and in Europe but I have grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am 22 years old and I am software developer. I love technology and I have grown up with wonderful California weather. My first car was a Volvo C70 ’04 convertible, and then I moved to a Mustang GT ’06 convertible in college. Considering I both went to school (UCSD) and lived in California, convertibles are amazing. While the idea of wind blowing through my hair is appealing, the engineer in me saw the benefits of the electric car. My parents got a Ford Focus Electric in 2013; I had a realization that these cars were here to stay and were going to be the future.

Being a little young and naïve I went and got myself a 2014 Ford Focus Electric as my only car. I knew when I graduated at the end of 2014 I would be working in California with plenty of charging ports and I would make it work. I was going to be green! The pull of the quiet, smooth drive, the cheap “gas” and the minimal (almost nonexistent) maintenance schedule for the length of my lease were significant additional benefits. Additionally, I got to drive a brand new, expensive car, subsidized by the government down to an economical level. Fast-forward to having graduated and the restrictions of the all-electric lifestyle (with a car that had only a 75 mile range) as my ONLY car being a single bachelor became too much. So now I need to find a new car (and unload my lease which is a whole other story). My work offers free charging so I become interested in finding a plug-in hybrid.

TL/DR: I love technology and convertibles, but the pull of the electric car got me around on having a roof. I got an all-electric, which being my only car was too hard, so I got rid of it. I am going to stay electric by getting a plug-in hybrid.

THE HUNT Given the free charging that my work offers, and my long commute, I wanted to stay with an electric car. I had been spoiled by the drive of the all-electric, and in California you save time by getting to use the HOV lane as a single-occupant. I compiled a list of cars that can take advantage of my free charging, get a HOV lane sticker, and qualify for rebates. I will briefly go through my thoughts and test drives. I do a lot of research, especially when it is a purchase this big.

  • Prius plug in – clearly a compliance car, not really able to drive over 40mph on electricity alone and have to baby it to get its measly 11 miles (estimated; not anywhere near actual) of electric range. It also drove very loosely; I felt like I was driving a lunch box.
  • Accord plug in – a good solid car, but it seemed expensive compared to the competition, especially for how cheap the car felt. To me, it was a basic boring sedan, a modest improvement up from the Prius.
  • Ford Fusion plug in – great car and probably my favorite. Lots of bells and whistles, it can basically drive itself on the highway. I am concerned about the dual drive train and not having all the trunk room.
  • Ford Cmax plug in – while it was better than the Prius, it was an econobox and not nearly as stylish. Would pick the Fusion with the same electric range.
  • BMW i3 Rex – a really futuristic car, and very out there. Styling is like it or hate it, and I was OK with it in a conservative color scheme. Drove really well, since it is basically an all electric. It got really expensive when I wanted the self driving options and big screen (I love gadgets) and its engine is really built as an extender, not a dependable mode of transport, you would not road trip 2 gallons of gas at a time.
  • Chevy Volt – I liked it a lot, but it felt like a 35-year-old dad kind of a car. It made sense, lots of good eco design decisions and room for the kids. No passion, but on paper the best car, especially where the drivetrain was concerned.

A couple things I found out is that while you are in all-electric territory here in the US, the $7500 rebate applies to everyone, when you go into plug-in territory it changes based on the battery size (IE range). So the Volt got the full $7500, the Fusion a respectable $4400 and the Prius a paltry $2500. Also, not all cars that are eligible for rebates are eligible for a sticker. For example the Porsche plug-in family get government rebates but cannot get California HOV stickers.

When I learned the Volt had a bigger, luxury Cadillac sibling, I had to go check it out. I did more research and learned GM was quietly running some great rebates on the ELR. Costing only a little more than a tricked out Volt, and being childless for the foreseeable future, I went with the ELR. It had the longest range of the current plug-ins and it is a great car.

TL;DR Chevy Volt and Ford Fusion were my favorite. Rebates and stickers have interesting details to consider. Voltec had longest range, went with the ELR

WineryELR

ELR EXPERIENCE I was considering doing a review after I got the car, but I am doing it now having lived with it for a year and 25,000 miles. I primarily use the car for commuting and I take a few road trips. This being my only car, I have put it through its paces. First and foremost I have to say this is a luxury car. I knew this going in, and I have loved all of my time with the car. For frame of reference, I purchased every package except for the Kona seats, because I thought it threw off the interior.

Everything in the car shows attention to detail, and it also shows over 100 years of automotive innovation. The hidden door handles in the massive coupe doors make you feel like you are getting into a science project and modern art piece at the same time. When you sit down in the supple seats and close the door, the CUE system welcomes you with a sci-fi like boot sequence. You notice the feel and design of the steering wheel, the large screens, and the arcing materials. You are cocooned in a tastefully laid out selection of suede, leather, carbon fiber, and wood. There is not a single dial in the car, and when off, just feels modern (more about the CUE later). The traditional design is kept when you look at the shifter knob, it is familiar and it comfortable in hand, not that you will be using it much in a 1-speed.

One of the sayings I love: If you don’t look back at your car after you park it, you bought the wrong car. I bought a piece of automotive artwork, and like most art pieces, it is either liked or disliked strongly. It is edgy, sharp, contoured and very American. I am a proud American and even happier that I get to support American industry, and innovation. The tail lamps are a throwback to the 50s fins on the large Cadillacs, and the headlights are beautifully trimmed in LEDs. Much like the CTS-V coupe, it looks like a Batmobile. This is the only Cadillac car with 20” wheels and they are really sharp. I also love the really low roofline; despite the fact that I am 6’1” and have clearance in the car. It is odd GM had to install A-pillar supports and you have tiny triangular windows, but it helps make the sleek profile. One strike against the design: visibility is poor. In the rear view, there is plenty to see, but there are large blind spots. Luckily these are taken care of by the blind spot monitors. Speaking of the rear view mirror, this one is minimalist, sturdy and a surprising step up from other cars.

The back seats cannot fit anyone taller than 5’6” but has enough legroom even behind me. The back seats are luxurious captains’ chairs in the same leather as the front seats, but because of the large, comfortable front seats and the low roofline, it can feel a bit claustrophobic in the back. They get their own cup-holder (not automatic) and a soft center armrest. It works in a pinch, and is nice if you are small enough, but I would not want to take a road trip there. You can fit a car seat in the back, but a coupe makes access difficult.

TL;DR The car is overflowing with luxury, and the focus is on the front two passengers. The car is a piece of artwork inside and out.

LeafFriends

VOLTEC DRIVE TRAIN Commuting or driving in town is where this car excels. It is absolutely a dream, just like one would expect an electric car to perform. With the bump in the power from the larger motor as compared to the Volt, there is plenty of oomph to get off the line, and up to highway speed. The torque is instant and feels quicker than it is, as with any electric car. In all-electric mode it is predictable, quiet, and smooth. Compared to the other drivetrains, this was designed for luxury, there is no torque steer when you floor it, and the car is heavy so the ride is cushioned but not cushy. When the gas engine kicks in, you can hardly hear it. It is designed to deliver just-in-time power, and when on the highway it will quietly putter along. Driving in the city the Voltec operates like a Prius, using battery off the line and then gas to sustain later, and it is here that it breaks down. You come to a stoplight and hear the gas engine making up for the power you just used off the line, and the engine is very non-Cadillac. It is small, and does not sound throaty like or refined like you would expect out of a car with an 80k price tag. Since the ELR has noise canceling I almost never hear the engine, but this raw noise is pumped out to the people looking at the automotive artwork from the sidewalk, and it does not leave a good impression.

The EPA estimates (37 electric, 340 total) are almost perfect. I will get 35 miles of electric range going 75mph on the highway for my commute of 45 miles each way. This has been consistent for winter and summer, although California doesn’t have those big of temperature swings like other states. I have gotten all the way to 46 miles out of the battery just driving around town. When I take a road trip, I get just about 300 miles per tank. I took a trip to Santa Barbara, which is almost exactly 340 miles, and left with both full. I made it in on fumes driving 70-75 the whole way. It was a quiet, and with the automatic cruise control, it was a really easy trip.

I did stress test the system when I went down to San Diego in the summer. Highway 5 is a big, flat, boring corridor, where if you aren’t going 90 you are being passed angrily. Going down this stretch, I kicked the car into mountain mode to build some battery reserve for the big climb through the Grapevine getting into LA. It was 110 degrees on the road, I had the air conditioner on, and was driving 90mph. Not surprisingly running the air conditioner, going 90mph, and generating spare electricity all while keeping the 1.4L engine cool was a challenge. The building of electricity was slower than normal, but it did not complain nor throw warnings of overheating.

TL;DR This a very robust drivetrain and feels great when in electric mode. No worries about running out of gas

Lighting

SPORT MODE Sport mode has two very distinct feelings. The throttle response is increased, and it takes away the luxury feel of the Cadillac tip-in, instead giving you all the power. It makes the ELR feel quicker, but it is still only 8.8 seconds to 60 which in Honda Fit territory. The odd part is when you are out of electric juice, your engines will work in conjunction with the electric motor. It feels like a turbo lag but it does take a full second off the sprint to 60. Strangely when the engine kicks in, the steering feels a bit more unruly, like there is torque steer. You can force the engine to engage and help you out before you are out of electric juice by using hold or mountain mode, but then you miss out on the suspension improvements. The ride with the adaptive suspension is awesome. The steering is responsive, tight, precise, and while it certainly cannot shine a light to the track racing I have done in the past, it does enhance the car for a bit of fun.

TL;DR adaptive suspension makes a big difference, but this is nowhere near a sports car

GADGETS This car is loaded with lots of toys, and as my pessimistic father it quick to point out: “it is just more things to break.” I happen to enjoy them, love them even, and here are the highlights.

Adaptive cruise control is the best option I put on the car, especially for my mostly highway commuting. The car drives itself, even coming to a complete stop. If it does come to a complete stop, you burp the accelerator and then it resumes normal operation. The system tracks around corners really well and will handle lane changes, and people coming into my lane. The car will automatically brake for me up to what is maximum battery regeneration, with anything faster needing to be done by me. The manual says the car can see 370 feet in front of the vehicle. While some cars have ugly squares of plastic for this radar system, Cadillac cleverly hides theirs behind the plastic (instead of metal) crested badge on the nose. The only problem I have ever had was driving to Tahoe and snow covered the cone, disabling the feature.

Regen on demand is fun, and enables me to drive with one foot a lot of the time. If you haven’t experienced it on the new 2016 Volt or some competitors like the BMW, it is basically a button that engages the heavy regenerative capability of the electric drive unit. Cadillac adds polish to it, having it not suddenly grab like a downshift, but gradually as if I used the brake pedal. This not only provides a fun way to drive once you understand how it performs, but helps me achieve maximum efficiency.

Rain sense is an awesome feature. I love how accurate it is, regardless of drizzle, downpour, or snow it will activate at the right speed.

The lane change alert is not very useful. I can tell when I am drifting over a lane, and more often than not is it annoying. I wish it would add some features to correct steering like the Ford Fusion, or the Tesla autopilot, but that may be asking too much. The new Volt adds correction, call lane change assist, not alert.

Intelligent headlights are a wash for me, they came with the luxury package and I think they are just ok. It is smart enough to shut off when oncoming traffic is coming, or I am gaining on a car in front of me. I only wish the high beams had a slightly higher (more daylight) threshold to turn on. There is a part in the dusk where I want them to come on and they do not.

I really like the rear cross traffic alert and the parking assist. When I am cornered between two Suburbans, I can confidently back out knowing my car will detect any coming traffic. This front and rear ultrasonic sensors displayed in the center cluster are also helpful.

The electronic cup holder is fun. I like the styling of it, and while it certainly is unnecessary it all goes into the vibe of the electric car. Along with this, having a button and no handle for the glove compartment adds to the modern feel (although I have to close it manually). There was a hope the metal-based cup holders were heated or cooled, and it certainly looks like they could be, but sadly they are not.

The hidden compartment under the CUE system is awesome, and fits my iPhone 6 Plus, plugged in, without a case. The integration with CUE is good enough I do not feel I need my phone out while driving, so having it out of my pocket, secure, charging, and playing high quality digital audio is great all while keeping the cabin uncluttered.

The power start up sound is a nice touch. It gives the quiet car a simple way for the user to tell whether the car is on or not. I thought after a year of hearing it, I would get tired of it, but instead it gives me just a little bit of a grin every time.

The interior door handles always amuse me when others try to get out, and I really like not having a handle to pull; it is yet another way the car feels futuristic. The good news is there is an emergency pull by the base of the seat to get out in a power loss situation.

TL;DR Automatic cruise control and rain sense are extremely useful, the rest of the gadgets range from mediocre to awesome but all contribute to a modern feel

Cadillac ELR

CADILLAC USER EXPERIENCE Cadillac’s center console media system has been met with critical review: it is slow, not always consistent in design, and hard to use while moving. I can understand all of these complaints, and I will address them all in this section.

I think CUE is an overall positive experience. For daily use, I think it is a great design and I really like the aesthetic of the system itself. The lack of buttons or knobs looks great when the system is on or off, and I like the feel of the capacitive section of the system. I think the proximity sensors that move the system to a minimalist view when you are no longer interacting with it is a very nice touch. When navigating some deeper screens, like address entry on the GPS, some buttons (back, submit, search, go, etc) are not always in the same spot between views, which causes me to hunt for them. Luckily I am not typically in these screens while driving so there is very little negative impact. There is a very polished energy flow view (much improved over Ford, Prius etc). The only part of the system that is significantly behind others in the space is the GPS, where the graphics and view are – nicely put – not easy on the eyes.

Because there are no buttons, you typically have to look down at the system to interact with it. This means that as you are bouncing down the highway you can miss the screen or the capacitive buttons and end up doing something you don’t want to do. Combine that with a slow response time for some actions, and you can end up being frustrated with the system. Luckily most of what I want to do when I am driving can be done from the steering wheel. I experienced this frustration most in the complimentary rental cars I have driven. The ELR, however, has a unique advantage here: it has a slopped console where the gearshift provides a perfect arm anchor-point for me to accurately interact with CUE. As a passenger in my car I can also rest my arm on this large center console, and since I don’t have to look back at the road right away, pressing the wrong button is not as frustrating.

The system is a bit slow, especially when interacting with GPS or other complex screens. Having worked with Tesla, Ford, Mercedes, BMW systems, I am very familiar with the automotive entertainment systems. Tesla is clearly the front-runner, but the rest of the automotive space leaves a lot to be desired. Cadillac has now announced that their infotainment systems will be disconnected from the rest of the automotive design flow, hopefully making them seem less dated on release. The Germans have all been copying each other (iDrive, Audi, Mercedes) and offer a great interface for media (radio, USB, XM). Ford mySync, designed to be like a tablet, has been wildly popular and has the best GPS view of any system. Also lacking compared to Ford is the built in voice control; CUE is so slow to be almost useless. It is accurate for making phone calls but forget about entering a destination. Luckily they provide a button to activate Siri or Google from the home screen; I just wish I could map this to the steering wheel button instead of CUE’s voice control.

My favorite part of the system is the integration with my smartphone using OnStar. I can remotely start/stop/lock/unlock my car. This is incredibly helpful for maximizing the range of my car, since starting my car uses the power from the wall when plugged in to prep the cabin, drive system, and battery to the proper temperature for driving. This leaves the battery energy for driving. The killer feature though, that no other remote app I have seen has, is the ability to send a destination to the car. I look up where I am going on my smartphone anyway, but now I can send the driving directions to CUE. It is also nice to see when my car is done charging, or locate the car if I have lost it in a parking lot. The only problem I have found with the app, is the push notification settings seem to have stopped working; I am seeing other users complain about it as well. Hopefully it will be fixed in an update, and maybe they will add Apple Watch support like Ford and Tesla.

Some underrated features of CUE are the universal favorites and the radio rewind. Universal favorites allows me to store GPS locations, phone numbers, XM, AM, FM and USB favorites to the same favorites bar. I can change the radio, set my destination to be home, and call my favorites all from the same screen. Customizing this is not straightforward, but once configured it is great. Radio rewind holds the last 30 minutes of live radio broadcast, so for example I can pause the radio and take a phone call and pick up right where I left off after the call. CUE even marks the media information changes so you can skip songs.

TL;DR CUE is much better than in other Cadillacs because of the interior cabin design of the ELR. There are still frustrations but the aesthetics are awesome.

WHY NOT A TESLA I have set aside this section because most people would consider the Tesla Model S the ELR’s closest competitor unlike the cars above. In my consideration of cars, I test drove a used 2013 P85. This is before the dual drive motor came out with the major refresh. Autopilot was just announced and you had to buy it new on a 60, 85, or P85+. GM at the time was running a huge discount on the ELR, so the Tesla I could afford for the same price would have to be used (hopefully 85 or P85), or an entry-level 60. To get it the same level of features, especially with autopilot (which was just announced) the ELR would have the cost advantage. With the rebates GM was running, the fully loaded ELR I got was less expensive than a 60 with autopilot. Looking used, there were very few 60s available, probably because those people are thinking of keeping their cars longer, and the P85s were being replaced for P85+. Unfortunately, because used cars do not apply for the green rebates, I would have to find a Model S for 10 grand below a new one for it to be comparable in price. But when you are looking in this space, cost is less of a factor in buying the car, so I will address the logic other than cost.

The test drive was amazing; it is clear why so many people love their Teslas. I drove the P85 and it was responsive, sure-footed, spacious, and full of tech. It felt to me like a software engineer took a swing at the automobile industry. They were able to shake a lot of conventions off, and do things entirely new. This has its ups and downs. For example a huge plus is the entirely flat floor, making the back middle seat more comfortable. On the other hand, they forgot cup holders. How does an American car company forget something as basic as that? They fixed it in the newer car (2014 at the time) but Tesla charged you for it. Also, things like the cool metal coating in the windshield that helped to reduce glare I learned blocks some toll tags from working. There is also the famous problem with the door handles not coming out when you walk up to the car. Lots of cool things, but there is merit to having over 100 years of automotive engineering.

It felt like all the driving parts of the car were done right but on an 80k car there were things lacking. The seats (which I sat in both performance and standard) felt like they were poor quality. The steering wheel was beautiful, but didn’t feel great. The interesting key shaped like the car even felt like it was flimsy. The media system made up for this. It, and its accompanying readout display, were responsive, crisp, and beautiful. I don’t know why I need to surf the web when I am driving, but I can if I want.

So what was the Tesla’s Achilles heel? It doesn’t have a gas engine. In my current lifestyle and location, the Tesla fits perfectly. I have a place to charge it reliably, and I have superchargers to get all over the US. The problem though is, as my only car, I did not want to get locked into another all-electric. While this electric was way better than my Ford and could handle 99.9% of my cases, the .1% had me concerned for buying a car that should last me 5-10 years. In my current job, I may have to move around the US or the world. I may end up having to live in an apartment with no charging, or in a city with no supercharger. That is where the ELR takes the cake, I get a luxury vehicle that can take advantage of the electricity I have now, but won’t hinder me if that is taken away.

TL;DR Model S is a software engineers take on the car for better or worse, but mostly better. After being burned by having an all-electric as my only car and a variable life plan, the ELR with the gas engine provides more flexibility and peace of mind.

SUMMARY The ELR is an amazing car, unfortunately released in the wrong order from its sibling: the volt, and priced uncomfortably close to the Tesla. This masterful, beautifully engineered machine has brought me much happiness. It is a great young-mans’ car for the eco-conscious, unfortunately it was priced a little to high for most buyers. Overall a fantastic job by Cadillac.

Tailight

Hands-on with CarPlay on the new Chevy Volt’s 8-inch capacitive display [Video]

Chevy Volt CarPlay

Earlier this year at CES, Seth and I had the opportunity to test drive the new Chevy Volt hybrid (okay, I actually just held the camera in the back seat) which has one of the best CarPlay screen we’ve seen yet. Check out our hands-on experience with the Volt’s very nice display from our test drive below …



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GM is going to kill the Cadillac ELR but it appears that new European Volt variants are on the way

Cadillac ELR

Yesterday AutoNews reported that Cadillac wasn’t going to be following up its ELR disaster with an upgrade to the 2016-17 Volt platform.

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen confirmed last week that the brand plans no successor to the light-selling ELR.”I plan to continue admiring it as one of the most beautiful cars on four wheels” de Nysschen told reporters during a media drive of the forthcoming CT6 large sedan here. “But we don’t plan further investment” in the coupe.

I panned the ELR on its announcement and saw this date coming, especially with its initial $76,000 price tag. Instead of improving the Volt’s drive specs, Cadillac wrapped the Volt in a luxury design (which isn’t bad to my eyes) but with the original Volt’s lack of rear cabin space and 40-mile range limitations.  This simply wasn’t going to get ‘Tesla Model S money’…



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Chevy attacks Volt’s Green competitors Prius and Leaf with nasty ads, loses the plot

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=105&v=Oji9NIqIqac

I have to say, as an EV enthusiast, these new ads from Chevy leave an incredibly bad taste in my mouth. Yes, the Prius’s NiCad batteries are older technology –and frankly as a Prius Plug-in owner there are plenty of vectors for attack on its battery system – but the Prius STILL gets better mileage than the Volt once the battery is used up, and the Volt’s battery ain’t that big. If I were making the Volt ad and I felt the need to attach the Prius, I’d point out that it is almost impossible to drive electric only with it where the Volt only uses gas on long trips.

Chevrolet’s global chief marketing officer, Tim Mahoney, said those ads have been extremely effective in helping improve Chevrolet’s brand image. Mahoney said Chevrolet’s “shattering perceptions” ads have bumped consumers’ favorable opinion of the brand by 3 percent.

The Leaf ad traps the focus group between floors in dead elevators, leaving them stranded there to emphasize the frustration of being stuck, a major concern for drivers of battery powered cars such as the Leaf. The Prius attack ads points out the car’s engineering is yester-tech.

The Internet ads will be cut down and broadcast on TV, Mahoney said. Volt ads will stress three things: The car’s 53-mile all-electric range, its technology and a combined gasoline and electric driving range of more than 400 miles. Most drivers, Mahoney said, will go between 1,000 and 1,500 miles between tanks of gasoline.

“We’re going to go head-to-head with Leaf and Prius,” Mahoney said. “The ads allow Chevrolet to talk in one way and they allow Chevrolet’s personality to come through. We’re going to be taking more risks,” he said.

In the below commercial, Chevy compares the Leaf’s 80 miles (guess they didn’t hear about the 100+ mile version that will be available in many places before the 2016 Volt) to the Volt’s 400+ with gas. I get it – but why not play up the bits about being electric?

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GM reveals a new plan for a self-driving Chevy Volt in 2016

Chevrolet-Volt-2016-hdGM CEO Mary Barra made a series of announcement today about the “future of personal mobility”, most notable of which a new plan for autonomous Chevy Volt to be available to GM employees to drive on private property next year.

A fleet of 2017 Volt equipped with GM’s self-driving technology will be made available in late 2016 for GM employees to reserve through a new car-sharing app and drive around the company’s Warren Technical Center campus in Michigan.

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Chevy Volt 2016 will be short-lived – 2017 model will come early

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Over the weekend we reported that GM pushed the nationwide release of the 2016 Volt to next year and would only sell the car in CARB states in the meantime. Yesterday the company confirmed to Auto News that they simply don’t plan on releasing the 2016 model outside of their top EV markets, which coincidentally are mainly CARB states. Instead the company will release the 2017 version early for a nationwide launch.

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GM delays the nationwide launch of the new Volt – Only available in CARB states until next year

mm_gal_item_c2_2.img_resize.img_stage._1An updated production timeline for the Chevy Volt sent to GM dealerships leaked on the GM-Volt forum over the weekend. The new timeline shows that GM decided to push the nationwide launch of the new Volt to February-March 2016 instead of the planned November-December 2015.

Production meant for California should start right about now and then GM will include all the other CARB States; Oregon, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire from October 2015 to January 2016.

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Here are the top automotive brands truly embracing electric vehicles

2013-Renault-ZOE_Image-014-1600Electric vehicles are here to stay, there’s very little doubt about that at this point, but which automakers are making sure that EVs are not a fad, but a trend? A new report from EV-Sales, a website tracking electric vehicle sales through car registration data, compiled the top automotive groups selling EVs in volume.

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2016 Nissan Leaf will feature 30kWh battery w/110 mile range option

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It looks like a Nissan dealership either jumped the gun or is making claims it probably shouldn’t on the upcoming 2016 Nissan Leaf.  Andy Mohr Nissan (via InsideEVs/Green Car reports) publishes the following info on the 2016 Nissan Leaf:

2016 Nissan Leaf Changes

While there are many features that make the Leaf a popular vehicle, there is one thing it’s known for above all else: its battery. The 2016 Nissan Leaf redesign will bring a first to the electric car: your choice of two different batteries.

  • The standard Leaf will come with the same battery as the 2015 model, featuring an EPA-estimated driving range of 84 miles.
  • Drivers of higher trim levels will enjoy a battery with as much as 25% increased capacity, delivering a driving range of as much as 110 miles.

The majority of electric cars only feature one battery option, and by providing drivers with their choice of a lower capacity battery if they don’t intend to drive long distances, the new Leaf can find a home in even more garages.2016-leaf



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