Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! One of the things I’m giving thanks for, is that General Motors updated it’s AutoBook application, adding the configuration options for the 2017 Chevy Volt. At last, I can build my next Volt!
Screenshots are available here for the 2LT (base model) and 2LTZ (premier model).
Some things that jump out at me:
There is a paint color, “Citron Green Metallic,” that is shown to be a “promotional color with limited availability.” If only it is the green I asked for…
Apple CarPlay will be available from the start of production!
ADAPTIVE CRUISE CONTROL!!!!! I reviewed a Cadillac ELR with this feature. Oh yes, it will be mine! (although there is a note, saying it is currently not available to order) I hope this option goes live, before ordering begins. It’ll be a real disappointment, if I have to delay my order to get this feature.
Adaptive cruise control adds a second type of Forward Automatic Braking. Without Adaptive Cruise Control, the option is called Forward Automatic Braking, Low Speed.
Apparently, you can get Volt-branded sill plates.
The heated seats have an automatic feature. It’s not clear if the auto feature is only during remote start, like the first generation Volt or if it is available as you drive.
I still wish the Light Ash/Dark Ash leather option was available on the LTZ model. I think it looks great with the Kinetic Blue Metallic paint.
It appears the HomeLink buttons for controlling your garage/gate openers will not return to the 2017 model.
As for standard equipment, here are PDFs of the base (no extra options) LT Volt and LTZ (Premier) Volt configurations. That’s how I verified that HomeLink is not present in the 2017s.
For those of you in the North Texas area, I will be accepting placeholder orders immediately on the 2017 Chevy Volts, using the AutoBook program. Three preorders have been placed so far (including mine). We will not know pricing at first, but this placeholder order gets you a spot, in the ordering queue. A $500 refundable deposit is required to place an order. If interested, email me at Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine, Texas. Let me know which model: 2LT (Base) or 2LTZ (Premier) you want as well as the options you need and your contact info. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!
For those of us unable to get a 2016 Chevy Volt, due to our insolence of living in a non-CARB state (not a dietary thing), I have news on the 2017 Chevy Volt’s availability.
The 2017’s will go into production in February of 2016, just three months from now. They should begin arriving in dealerships in late March or April. Some dealerships, like Classic Chevrolet (where I work) have started taking orders and deposits on the 2017 model year. At this point, the orders cannot be placed with General Motors, but clients wishing to get a spot in line can do so, using our unofficial order list. Those on the list, will have their orders be officially placed next month, when GM opens ordering.
If you want a 2017 Volt and live near the Dallas / Fort Worth area, contact me!
I am awake at 6:47AM on Thanksgiving morning and just thought to myself, “I wonder of GM’s vehicle ordering application, “GM AutoBook” has the 2017 Volts yet.
It does, albeit without pricing.I guess I know what I’ll be doing this Thanksgiving morning: Configuring my 2017 Volt!!!
In October 2015, the plug-in market continued the dive of the previous month, with three exceptions, one borderline at that:
Chevy Volt: UP 114% (2,035 vs. 949)
Nissan Leaf: DOWN 1% (1,238 vs. 1,247)
Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 58%(91 vs. 216)
Cadillac ELR: UP 128%(82 vs. 36)
BMW i3: DOWN 43% (986 vs. 1,720) ***Last month’s sales may have been a fluke
BMW i8: DOWN 18% (149 vs. 182)
Ford Fusion Energi: UP 5% (849 vs. 808)
Ford C-Max Energi: DOWN 3% (695 vs. 719)
The price of gasoline started a weak increase over the first week of the past month, then dropped steadily, until the last day of October. The 2016 Chevy Volt began arriving at dealerships in the eleven CARB states and really seems to have boosted Volt sales. Coupled with this were astounding purchase and lease incentives for the 2015 Volt, which I am sure contributed to quite a few of those moving as well. I ended up buying a 2015 myself. The result was a 114% increase in Volt sales, when compared to September, and the best monthly number since August 2014 and before that, the next previous month of higher sales goes back to December 2013! This gives me optimism about the 2017 Volt, which will start arriving in March/April 2016. The Nissan Leaf experienced only a 1% decrease, compared to the previous month.
The adoption curves, in the lower graph, are starting to look frightening. The Volt and Leaf adoption curves are diverging from the original Prius’ more every month. Does this portend the end of plug-in vehicles? Obviously, I don’t think so, but the trend is undeniable. Hopefully, the new 2016 & 2017 Volts will start the curves converging once again. There are other new vehicles that have been announced that could help, like a redesigned Nissan Leaf. That being said, the original Prius sold a total of 154,919 units by the end of its 59th month of availability. Compare that to the Leaf’s 87,462 (56% of Prius adoption) or the Volt’s 84,656 (55% of Prius adoption) and you’ll get a feel for what’s ailing me.
The Plug-in Prius showed another significant monthly decrease in sales, falling to its lowest monthly sales volume EVER, AGAIN. Stick a fork in the Plug-in Prius. It’s done.
The Cadillac ELR rebounded with the best month in sales, since May 2015, but it’s still the bottom performer, with sales lower than the Prius. The BMW i3 seemed to return to more typical volumes, which saw monthly sales spring up 117% in September, only to drop 43% in October. The i8’s sales dropped by 18% from the previous month’s sales, which had been a decline from the month before that.
Definitely, I think low gas prices are a hindrance to market visibility and therefore, sales. However, from my perspective, seeing people experience electric drive for the first time, it appears the number one motivation to buying a plug-in vehicle is how fun it is to drive.
Sales, compared to the same month a year ago, are almost all down, and down a lot, with the exception being the Volt and the two Fords I track.
I’ve been watching the development of autonomously driven vehicles for a few years now and part of me wondered, “Why?” Most of us enjoy the act of driving our vehicles. Yes, I’d like to switch to autopilot for my daily, traffic-congested commute, but the rest of the time, I think I’d prefer to be in control rather than a passive passenger.
I am reminded of this, every time I sell a Corvette. About half of the drivers want a manual transmission, because they like to shift. The eight-speed automatic transmission, available on the Stingray, shifts faster than any human is capable. If you want to win the race, get the automatic. “If you want to have fun,” my customers counter, “get the manual transmission.”
People like to drive. Why are we moving away from that?Here is something I’m passionate about: NOT getting killed while driving. I’ll bet you’re pretty much the same as me, in that respect. If not, may I recommend seeking out a mental health professional and beginning treatment today?
Those who have been with this blog, since its inception, may know that my electric vehicle journey began with a bang.
A guy driving an SUV, rear ended my Lexus, crushing the rear end almost to the rear window. As his gigantic vehicle approached, I could clearly see the driver looking down and to his right, the standard texter pose. You see, the right lane of freeway had come to a stop, because a fracking water truck had rolled onto its side, on a curving exit ramp (for those of you from the DFW area, the University exit off of westbound I-30). I was on the overpass, looking down at the fracking truck, lying on its side. There were police on the scene already, and those of us that needed to exit at University, were waiting patiently.
As his SUV approached, I looked away from the rearview mirror, looking for an avenue of escape (no pun intended) (oh, who am I fooling? Pun WAS intended!) The lane to my left was moving at around 50 MPH and traffic was heavy, so there was no chance I could switch lanes to avoid the accident. There was nowhere I could go. I stood on the brake pedal, hoping that I would not get thrown into the car in front of me, while averting my eyes from the oncoming truck.
The SUV driver didn’t know we were all stopped because he wasn’t looking at the road at all.
I learned something about myself, in that moment: I do not want to see death coming. I will avert my eyes from it and wait.
As I stared forward, I heard the SUV’s brakes screech just before impact. The crash was so loud that the officers below all stopped what they were doing and looked up. One officer pointed to herself and motioned she was coming up to help us.
I looked around the interior of my car and everything was as before, with the one exception of the coin holder. It had sprung open from the force of the impact and coins had been thrown around the cabin. I was surprised that I felt fine. When the officer (and ambulance) arrived, she tried to convince me to get into the ambulance and go to the hospital, but I declined. The owner apologetically approached and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you until the last second.”
I replied, “Of course you didn’t. You were too busy texting instead of paying attention!” He did not try to deny it at all and apologized once again.
So I’m really against texting while driving. Or reading books (yes, I’ve seen this happen). Or holding a phone to your ear. Or putting on makeup. Or anything that might distract you enough to kill me accidentally. All of these activities, except the application of makeup, can now be performed with minimal physical conflict with your responsibilities as a driver, thanks to the move toward the “connected vehicle.” I guess we’ll have to wait for Homer Simpson to invent the makeup gun to solve that last issue…
The connected vehicle began with your mobile phone. It may now be connected to your vehicle by USB for power and bluetooth for communication. If you can control your phone by voice command (like Siri on the iPhone), you don’t even have to touch your phone to:
make outgoing, and receive incoming calls
ask for driving directions
add appointments to your calendar
play songs or albums in your music library
dictate outgoing text messages
have incoming text messages read to you
read a book
It seems that lately, when I see another driver weaving around in their lane (or mostly within their lane), or driving so slowly that everyone is steering around them to pass, that the reason is always the same: They’re texting.
This makes me so angry that I am tempted to flip the other driver off or roll down my window to employ colorful expletives to illustrate my opinion of their driving.
THIS SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING TODAY!!!!
Most new vehicles produced over the last four years have the ability to allow hands-free calling. Even the most primitive flip phone I’ve seen recently allows the use of a headset or earpiece, freeing one’s hand to steer in an emergency situation. But still, every single day, I see people driving with one hand, while holding their phone to their head. Haven’t these people read Disconnect by Devra Davis? Well, on the bright side, Ms. Davis may be describing natural selection. Those that die off from cellphone-inflicted brain tumors or distraction-caused driving accidents may just be being selected by evolution for extinction.
I understand we all think we’re smarter, better, faster than we really are. We all think we’re better drivers than we are. Well, except for me. I’m a great driver. 😉 We all think we don’t need these new-fangled contraptions to keep us undistracted! But obviously, we’re all full of crap. Just Google “texting while driving.” Even law firms are posting distracted driving statistics to drum up business. Just a couple from the previous link:
One out of four car accidents in the U.S. is caused by texting.
Texting while driving is SIX TIMES more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
Then there are the images Google will find. Heartbreaking images. Many of these created as a public awareness campaign to curb accidents caused by texting while driving.Solutions have been proposed and some tried. Austin, Texas created a law banning texting while driving. The problem was that people would say they were making a call, checking navigation, playing a song, etc. The city modified the ordinance to say that holding any electronic device for any reason, while driving, is illegal. Time will tell if this will have an impact.
Although I salute the new law, I doubt it will make a difference.
Some have proposed that mobile phone manufacturers put in a restriction that prevents a user from texting, if the phone detects it is moving above a certain speed. This would only work if ALL mobile phone providers were on board. Then the question is raised, “Can’t I text if I’m just a passenger?” Inevitably, one manufacturer would defect from the text ban group, in order to get a marketing advantage over other manufacturers.
So, it appears to be up to the car manufacturers to save us all. If cars could only connect seamlessly with mobile phones and allow interaction with these devices without having to handle them, the problem is solved.
Not so fast.
This only works if the vehicle owner knows how to use this connectivity.
How many of you have read your vehicle’s owner’s manual cover-to-cover? How about your smartphone’s manual?
Yeah, something else is required. The vehicle salesperson or manufacturer has to educate the customer on how the connectivity works. The customer also has to see the value in this to change their driving habits. After purchasing a vehicle, the customer wants nothing more than to hit the road and enjoy their new toy. The salesperson wants nothing more than to say goodbye and find the next customer (and commission). Neither wants to take this next, important step.
So, manufacturers have stepped in and begun automating driving.
My first experience with this was “Forward Collision Alert” and “Lane Change Alert” offered by General Motors on their vehicles. These seem designed for texters. What do texters commonly do that’s dangerous? Drift out of their lane (or off the road) and rear-end others. These two safety features attempt to address those problems. However, most drivers don’t use their turn signals to change lanes, so they turn off Lane Change Alert. Commuters, in heavy traffic, like to tailgate the car in front of them. Their drivers will turn off “Forward Collision Alert.”
Touché drivers! Care to parry, car makers?
Okay, How about “Lane Keep Assist” and “Forward Collision Alert with braking?” “Lane Keep Assist” gently steers the vehicle back to the center of the lane, if it is detected that the vehicle is drifting out of its lane. Of course, the driver can prevent this steering change by holding the wheel and gently steering against the change. This function is dependent on well-marked lane boundaries, so we’ll need to update the stripes on many of our roads. “Forward Collision Alert with Braking” just augments the beep or vibration, letting you know you’re about to rear-end another vehicle with the ability to stop the car completely. Already, I’ve seen advertisements where manufacturers are stating their FCAWB is better than other vehicle manufacturers’ systems.
To implement these features, cameras and other sensors have been added to vehicles to make them ‘aware’ of vehicles around them as well as the roads/lanes. These are items that will be needed to ever have autonomous driving, so they’re evolutionary changes with an obvious goal in sight: automated driving. Of course, all programs crash, so you’ll need to be able to take control manually, in the event of an emergency situation. This reminds me of this scene from “I, Robot,” where Will Smith decided it would be a good idea to take control of his autonomously driven Audi.
The next snag I see on the horizon, is the lack of standardization among manufacturers for autonomous driving systems. Part of how these systems work will eventually require that they understand how the other vehicles, around your vehicle, will respond to what your car is about to do. Then there’s the people who will disable the autonomous feature so they can have a commuting advantage over other drivers, whipping their cars in and out of lanes to pass automated vehicles. You just know that’s going to happen.
I understand where autonomous driving is coming from. We aren’t responsible enough as adults to drive without distraction, so we’re all being grounded from driving manually.
Since then, as my regular readers know, I have leased or purchased four Chevy Volts (and am planning a fifth in the next six months). I was fortunate in that, when I was shopping for an EV, there weren’t many to choose from. I didn’t have to pore over specifications to make a decision. It came down to the only two plug-in vehicles I could afford, the Chevy Volt or the Nissan Leaf. Due to the battery issues, in the news at the time, I selected the Volt. I lucked out, because I believe that, in the current (no pun intended) status of infrastructure, the Volt is the obvious choice. It has a great electric range and the gasoline-powered range extender allows flexibility like no other plug-in vehicle (except the Volt’s cousin, the Cadillac ELR). Only those two vehicles run exclusively on electricity until the battery pack is depleted. At that point, they automatically switch to the gasoline engine to continue running. In fact, my manager Hank opened my eyes to the fact that, “You don’t ever have to plug in a Volt. It can run like any gas-powered car, as long as you keep putting gasoline in the tank.”
Now, several companies have announced hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and I started looking at those as a possible alternative to a plug-in EV. I’ve come across new information (to me, at least) that makes me lean toward staying in the EV world. There are three factors that are influencing me:
My carbon footprint
I can become my own fuel vendor
The “carbon footprint” factor may have surprised people new to “Zero Emission Vehicles.” The reason I always wanted a hydrogen-powered vehicle is that the by-product of the drive system is water. Pure. Clean. Water. How could that not be a great thing?!? Well, as it turns out, it’s the way the hydrogen is made.
What? Why do we have to make the most common element in the universe? Can’t we just grab it from the atmosphere? The short answer is no. From the Wiki accessible by the link above, “Currently, the majority of hydrogen (∼95%) is produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming or partial oxidation of methane and coal gasification with only a small quantity by other routes such as biomass gasification or electrolysis of water.” This fact has completely ruined the aura of Hydrogen vehicles for me. Many people might counter with, “Most of the electricity in the U.S. is generated by burning coal.” While true, it is something over which I have control. For fifteen years now, I have only bought electricity from companies that generate electricity using 100% renewable energy sources (Green Mountain Energy & Beyond Power). In Texas, that is predominantly wind power and yes, I know the wind doesn’t always blow and these companies have to occasionally buy energy from unclean sources. However, they also purchase extra renewable energy, if available or buy extra clean energy from renewable sources on the grid, to offset the dirtier energy they had to buy. Yes, I’ve also heard the argument that EVs are dirtier than gasoline-powered vehicles. Nope. Untrue. So, I believe the Volt is the only vehicle (other than the exorbitantly priced ELR) that matches my driving needs which are:
Drive on electricity as much as possible, and
Let me use gasoline if I need to drive farther.
This thought is echoed in the Volt slogan, “Electric when you want it, gas when you need it.” I do not believe this will always be the case. As electric charging increases in speed and charging infrastructure is built out, the dependence on the range extender will lessen and eventually disappear. For this reason, I see the Volt as the perfect transition vehiclefor where we are right now.
Although “cleanliness is next to Godliness,” I have to admit, I believe the real nail in the coffin for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is the second factor I mentioned, convenience. My Volt and I only go to a gas station once every three months (yes, you read that right) and I pout the whole time. Why am I having to leave my home and stand in the heat/cold/rain to refuel??? This thought caught me completely off-guard. Convenience is the strong suit for plug-in vehicles! I absolutely LOVE coming home and plugging in, instead of driving to a location to refuel.
Additionally, hydrogen is not dense and must be stored in a pressurized state in order to store more energy, per cubic foot of space. The pressures involved may be as high as 5,000 PSI or 10,000 PSI. Driving around with a tank of hydrogen pressurized that much gives me pause. I know the NTSB or some such government agency, must have come up with a way to do this safely, but every time I think of this issue, the same image pops up in my head:That may not be rational, but there it is…
Finally, since owning a Volt, I have lost track of gasoline prices. Once a month, I review gas prices for my EV sales numbers reports, but other than that, I never notice. I don’t pay “the man” for my fuel anymore, except every ninety days. I have locked in my electric rate for the next three years, so I have no fuel price volatility. I don’t have to shop around. If I put solar panels on my house, I’ve become my own fuel provider, with prices locked in for 20+ years! I’m not at the mercy of anyone.
My 2012 Blue went back to the leasing company on the 21st of July. My wife Bonnie has to return her 2012 white Volt by December 28th. We were so excited to be getting a 2016 Volt, when the news hit: No 2016 Volts in Texas (and 38 other states).
Although disappointed at not getting the 2016, in time for the Income Tax credit on our 2015 tax returns, we knew we needed the tax credit, so we pulled the trigger on a new 2015. The incentives available on the last of the 2015’s was PHENOMENAL, tempering our disappointment a bit.
It’s the first one we’ve had with the backup camera and Bose sound system. Very sweet.
In September 2015, the plug-in market was on a power dive, only one plug-in I track increased sales from the previous month (and that one was a doozy!!!):
Chevy Volt: DOWN 31% (949 vs. 1,380)
Nissan Leaf: DOWN 11% (1,247 vs. 1,394)
Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 37%(216 vs. 344)
Cadillac ELR: DOWN 20%(36 vs. 45)
BMW i3: UP 117% (1,720 vs. 792) ***HOLY COW! WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?!?!?
BMW i8: DOWN 13% (182 vs. 210)
Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 15% (808 vs. 949)
Ford C-Max Energi: DOWN 1% (719 vs. 723)
The price of gasoline started a precipitous drop in the first half of the month, and stayed down through the end of the month. The Chevy Volt’s sales ended a three month upswing and fell 31%. The Nissan Leaf experienced an 11% decrease, compared to the previous month. I’m still concerned about the widening gap between the original Prius’ adoption and the current sales performance of the Volt and Leaf.
The Plug-in Prius also showed a significant decrease in sales, falling to its lowest monthly sales volume EVER. In fact, August 2015 had been the worst month of sales for the Prius until September 2015, which showed a 37% decrease from the previous low water mark. This one is circling the drain…
The Cadillac ELR experienced its second-worst month in sales, only selling 36 units. Many Cadillac dealers are not handling these anymore. I’ve done searches for new ELRs, and there are very, very few, within a 250 mile radius around my location. The only lower month for ELR sales was the month it debuted, December 2013, when it sold only 6 units. Although I love the ELR, its price is way out of line.
The big news of the month was the BMW i3, which saw monthly sales spring up 117%, to a high water mark of 1,720 units sold! That’s 38% higher than 2nd place in September, which was the Leaf, at about half the i3’s price. The i8 dropped by only 11% from the previous month’s sales.
Sales, compared to the same month a year ago, are almost all down, and down a lot, with the exception being the two BMWs I track.
Chevy Volt: DOWN 32%(949 vs. 1,394)
Nissan Leaf: DOWN 57% (1,247 vs. 2,881) **Last month, this was down 56%
Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 39% (216 vs. 353)
Cadillac ELR: DOWN 68% (36 vs. 111))
BMW i3: UP 68% (1,720 vs. 1,022)
BMW i8: UP 214% (182 vs. 58) **Last month’s jump was due to it being compared to the very 1st month of i8 availability.