Jan 25

OnStar project promises renewable energy for recharging

 

As we’ve seen with the Volt and other green initiatives, GM is working to promote sustainability with perhaps its latest project being enablement of recharging from renewable energy.

On Monday, OnStar Communications contacted us and announced Volt owners “may soon be able to charge their vehicle using renewable energy.”

The actual time frame is “to be determined,” but the kinks are being worked out by OnStar and a company called PJM Interconnection with 17 Chevrolet Volts operated by Google’s Gfleet.

 

The way it generally works is OnStar-enabled technology receives a signal from PJM Interconnection showing the percentage of available renewable energy on the grid.

Data from this forecast is downloaded to the OnStar cloud, or Advanced Telematics Operating Management System (ATOMS). OnStar uses this signal to simultaneously manage the charging of many Volts and to match the renewable energy availability.

OnStar says a mobile app could be used to alert customers when renewable energy is available.

Google’s Gfleet is based at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., and as many of you know, Google is highly involved in other green projects and automotive experiments that include cars that drive themselves.

At the same time, Google is naturally willing to collaborate with real human drivers, as the species does not yet seem ready to go extinct.

This week, the OnStar-enabled fleet’s technology will be demonstrated at the 2012 DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio.

The public demo fits with an announcement by Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of planning and business development, who said it is nearly ready for prime time.

“This demonstration shows that in the near future customers will have a real signal of demand for renewable energy,” said Pudar. “As customers configure their Volts to favor renewable energy for their charging cycle, this real demand signal will influence utilities to tap into renewable sources.”

Note that Pudar says demand will prompt utilities to increase (now limited) renewable energy supply.

We asked Adam Dennison, an OnStar Communications representative who sent the info, “How hopeful are you that this will have a measurable or significant influence that it will push utilities to adopt more renewable energy sources?”

In response, he said “We think that as EVs continue to penetrate the marketplace that customers will drive a variety of demands throughout different industries. Certainly we believe that the energy industry will be one of these. Based on the level of interest a number of utilities have expressed in OnStar’s Smart Grid solutions, we are pretty confident that that they’ll be willing to look to more renewable energy sources.”

At present, peak hours for renewable energy generation from wind is generally between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. according to PJM data.

OnStar says it would therefore be possible for customers to use Smart Grid solutions to further reduce their carbon footprint and – as is already possible regardless of energy source – “save money by charging during these off-peak times.”

“Solutions like this one will ultimately lead to increased renewable energy generation and allow Chevrolet Volt owners to be a key part of that energy transformation,” said Pudar.

If the renewable energy service goes into production, customers interested in using it would need to sign up. Dennison did not say if it would cost extra or be made available with existing OnStar service.

Once signed up, OnStar would regulate customers’ charging using the renewable energy signal.


This video is not directly about the current project, but OnStar says it highlights an app it did for Google’s Gfleet of Volts.

OnStar says this renewable energy technology is the latest addition to its suite of Smart Grid solutions.

For your review, OnStar says it has developed other “intelligent energy management technology solutions,” including:

Demand response – This solution connects utilities to companies that have intelligent energy management products. These companies can use OnStar to manage energy use for Volt customers who opt in for the service. This future service allows the customer to save money on energy costs while enabling more efficient use of the electric grid.
Time-of-Use (TOU) rates – OnStar can receive dynamic TOU pricing from utilities and notify Volt owners of the rate plan offers via email. Owners will be able to use OnStar to load the rate plans directly into their vehicle and access them to schedule charging during lower-rate periods.
Charging data – OnStar also sends and receives EV data that helps utility providers without having to interface with the vehicle’s electric vehicle supply equipment. This includes location-based EV data that identifies charging locations and determines potential load scenarios.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 41


  1. 1
    Darius

     

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (6:55 am)

    Together with wireless charging EREV 40 (Voltec) will be ultimate solution for everyone. We will have 100% “carbon free” charging option at any parking lot.


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    Jan 25th, 2012 (7:23 am)

    Great to hear about this work being done. The next step would for us to program when we want to be done charging, and for the utility do turn the charging on and off as required to help them use low emission and/or low cost generation.

    Also, I really appriciate how well Jeff’s articles are formatted on the iPad’s “reader” function. Most sites only have the text, but GM-Volt has beautifully formatted photos as well.

    GSP


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    Raymondjram

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (7:38 am)

    It is nice to read that Google has worked with OnStar for its private fleet. This same work can be applied to every other Chevy Volt or other Voltec vehicle, and made available through all Android devices.

    The more “open” the system is, the better for all users! Now that this is a new application, it is wise for OnStar to negotiate with other Anerican EV and EREV producers (Fisker and Tesla included) to add it to their vehicles. So everyone who has a Volt and another American EV or EREV can check their charging status and determine which vehicle to use, as Google does with their Volt fleet.

    Go GM and OnStar!

    Raymond


  4. 4
    Nelson

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (7:52 am)

    Wow! The “you’re driving a car that runs on coal instead of oil” pundits have gotten to GM. They should just concentrate on the nationwide proliferation of Solar Tree’s in parking lots of (Malls, shopping centers, hotels, motels, movie theaters, supermarkets…) I’ve yet to see one on the east coast. What happen to that initiative?
    http://media.gm.com/content/media/us/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2011/Nov/1116_solar
    How about an upgrade to the Volts nav to add public charging stations as a POI.

    My SparkEV will need a place to recharge while not at home.

    NPNS!
    Volt#671


  5. 5
    Roy_H

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (8:05 am)

    Renewable energy generally costs more than standard, and it could vary depending on where it is coming from and spot price. Presumably this will be passed on to the customer and you may be able to set your options to select renewable only if it is below x price. Also of course you would put a time that the car must be fully charged by, i.e. 7:00 am. If renewable was not available, regular electricity would be used to ensure a fully charged car. The formula could get complicated, but certainly doable.


  6. 6
    jim1961

     

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (8:20 am)

    This is incredibly cool technology. I wonder if GM will use this green tech feature in their advertising. It might win over a lot of environmentally conscious GM haters who bought into the conspiracy theories invented by Chris Paine (in his film, Who Killed the Electric Car?). I just watched Chris Paine’s Revenge of the Electric Car. In this new film there are no conspiracy theories but GM is called the “enemy” more than once.


  7. 7
    kdawg

     

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (8:28 am)

    Raymondjram: Now that this is a new application, it is wise for OnStar to negotiate with other Anerican EV and EREV producers (Fisker and Tesla included) to add it to their vehicles.

    You can add Onstar to any car, but I don’t know if you could integrate these features easily. The Droid ap could at least tell anyone, “Hey, there’s extra renewable energy right now”


  8. 8
    BLIND GUY

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (10:08 am)

    I have to give this idea a green thumbs-up. However, I can’t really see this method of charging making an over-all measureable difference until thousands more EVs are being used. It doesn’t matter who uses the clean, renewable electricity; the main goal is to produce much more of that clean power. Does OnStar work in under-ground parking lots and closed garages? I think OnStar should be a free service as a perk for buying a GM vehicle for as long as you own your Gm. VEHICLE jmo. Many people just let these services expire because they don’t want yet another connectivity service fee.


  9. 9
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    Jan 25th, 2012 (10:09 am)

    Note, when your OnStar subscription expires and you dont renew, you lose all these connectivity features. Your MyVolt ap will not work, no remote start/pre-conditioning, no remote checking of battery level, etc…


  10. 10
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    Jan 25th, 2012 (10:10 am)

    BLIND GUY: Does OnStar work in under-ground parking lots and closed garages?

    Wherever your cell phone works.


  11. 11
    kdawg

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (10:14 am)

    BLIND GUY: I think OnStar should be a free service as a perk for buying a GM vehicle for as long as you own your Gm.

    I agree. It should be like the Kindle. Good for the life of the product. Maybe they could offer a discount rate if you bought 10 years worth, at $10/month, so $1200 upfront. I’d probably do that. The current 3-year price seems high at $1100. This is the “directions & connections package”. I’m wondering if the Volt aps will work with just the “safe & sound” connection.

    Jeff – that’s something to ask GM, next time you have their ear.


  12. 12
    Loboc

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (10:23 am)

    I’ve been in IT for over 30 years. I’m in favor of tech that makes our lives easier. This implementation seem to need too much end user tweaking and monitoring ( at least initially).

    Make it simple and non- intrusive and ya got a winner. All I want to do is drive. Messing around with uplinks and timers might be fun for 30 minutes or so, but I got better things to do with my time.


  13. 13
    kdawg

     

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (10:25 am)

    Darius
    Together with wireless charging EREV 40 (Voltec) will be ultimate solution for everyone.

    Sweet. Wireless charging is the way to go. And this way Neil Cavuto can’t complaing about “plugging in”

    From your linked article:
    Wireless Charging enables the customer the ability to have “transparent” recharging of plug-in electric vehicle—EV, combustion engine (IC) PHEV, fuel cell (FC) PHEV—through a seamless connection to the EVSE charger and automated charging process. For WPT [wireless power transfer], essentially the customer does not have to do anything except park the vehicle in the right spot. The integration of DSRC communications (specified by SAE Hybrid/DSCR committees) allows WPT increased interconnect ability over present conductive communications with V2Infrastructure assisting in location of available chargers, an automated secure charging and billing and options such as connectivity with smart grid.


  14. 14
    Darius

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (10:34 am)

    That is perfect idea invented by NordPool (Scandinavian power exchange). General idea is to trade “green” power directly to customers who want to pay extra for being green and not waist their money on expensive green toys. Green power is always extra. Power generated by solar panels on your roof cost ten fold more (in case depreciation, interest and grid backup cost included) than “green power” generated on large utility scale. Normally wind power is 2-4 times more expensive than coal power.


  15. 15
    Shawn Marshall

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (10:53 am)

    (click to show comment)


  16. 16
    Steve

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (11:40 am)

    Looks like nonsense to me. You can’t determine with any sort of instrument at an outlet what method produced it. The car can’t tell the difference either. Once a production source feeds into the grid, it’s all the same stuff. The only way to differentiate it is sales and marketing.

    Anyway, does it really matter what I utilize the green generated electricity for? Isn’t the ecological benefit the same? Am I going to watch TV only when green electricity is available or whenever I want to?


  17. 17
    Noel Park

     

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (12:08 pm)

    Steve: Looks like nonsense to me. You can’t determine with any sort of instrument at an outlet what method produced it. The car can’t tell the difference either. Once a production source feeds into the grid, it’s all the same stuff. The only way to differentiate it is sales and marketing.

    #16

    I have always thought the same way, but someone posted a really thought provoking comment here the other day which seemed to show that it isn’t always necessarily so. It seems the there is enough wind capacity in Colorado and Texas now that there is actually excess power available at night when there is evidently more wind. So, if electric cars could charge off of that, it might provide a very useful storage capacity for excess power. I don’t think we’re there yet, but it’s an interesting thought.

    Loboc: Make it simple and non- intrusive and ya got a winner. All I want to do is drive. Messing around with uplinks and timers might be fun for 30 minutes or so, but I got better things to do with my time.

    #12

    Amen. +1 There’s no way I’m going to mess with this, partly because I refuse to buy a Chinese “smart” phone. But never mind.

    But at least I’m on a TOU meter and charge between about 2AM and 5AM. So if that’s when the most wind power is generated, maybe that helps some.


  18. 18
    Steve

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (12:52 pm)

    Noel Park,

    But likely most cars would be charged at night anyway. Using the car as a utility buffer is another matter and still the car or overall demand can’t tell the difference of green vs not as green electricity.

    How will the car owner be reimbused for extra battery cycling by the utility company using his car as storage and demand leveling?


  19. 19
    Jackson

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (1:26 pm)

    Sorry, what I care about is domestic energy for transportation, enhancing energy security. It’s OK to exploit the green crowd, provided you understand that this is what you’re doing (and don’t damage the energy security message). I kind of think that the Volt is inherently a hard sell to greenies, most I know are waiting for the LEAF or another BEV; marketing emphasis for the OnStar app should reflect this (keep it fairly low-key compared to energy security, superior driveability and insurance against energy-cost volatility).

    Until they find a way to import electric current from somewhere beyond North America (long range wireless a la Tesla perhaps, or superconducting submarine cable), I have no use for an app or other system which discriminates by energy source. Even at this, there are few things as fungible as electricity; selecting by “energy source” is factually meaningless unless there are direct ‘pipelines’ from different generators to select from.


  20. 20
    Charlie H

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (2:10 pm)

    (click to show comment)


  21. 21
    BLIND GUY

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (2:21 pm)

    If a person chooses to help the Clean Energy umm, movement; there are already many ways to do that: conservation, efficiency, walk, bicycle, car pool, mass transit, directly or indirectly threw some Utilities buy or rent power etc… Some of these methods save you $ and some will cost you more $. So whatever your motive is; as a very large Nation, we will get to cleaner energy if we all do our part JMO.


  22. 22
    Noel Park

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (2:27 pm)

    Steve: How will the car owner be reimbused for extra battery cycling by the utility company using his car as storage and demand leveling?

    #18

    No, I’m just saying that, if folks with electric cars who lived in that service area were charging at night anyway they might capture some wind power that would otherwise go to waste. As far as giving any of it back to the grid, that’s a whole different and much more complex issue, as you correctly point out.


  23. 23
    Noel Park

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (2:29 pm)

    BLIND GUY: So whatever your motive is; as a very large Nation, we will get to cleaner energy if we all do our part JMO.

    #21

    Words of wisdom IMHO. +1


  24. 24
    CorvetteGuy

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (2:51 pm)

    OT–

    Finally, after 15-plus months, Chevrolet has decided to add the words “Extended Range” to their tv ad for the VOLT:


  25. 25
    Gieso

     

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (3:13 pm)

    This is nice technology and its great that it can be applied to a test fleet as a prototype. I am just hoping that this is not the only thing that the OnStar development team is focusing on. The MyVolt.com website is in dire need of an update to turn the efficiency and milage status features back on for existing Volt owners. It seems like it would be embarrasing to OnStar/GM to have a website listing the “Latest News” from July 2011.

    It really doesn’t matter how wonderful the new OnStar prototypes are if the fundamentals are not properly maintained. OnStar needs to get the basics for the Volt in line and properly maintained before they start developing new applications. If OnStar does not maintain its current stuff, no one will use the new stuff since it is clear that OnStar is not committed to maintaining what they have.


  26. 26
    Jeff Cobb

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (3:17 pm)

    kdawg: Jeff – that’s something to ask GM, next time you have their ear.

    I forwarded Blind Guy’s and your comments, and Adam Dennison from OnStar said this –

    “We feel that our pricing structure is such that customers can affordably get the safety and security of OnStar. The monthly or yearly plans give customers the freedom to stop or start the service when they feel necessary rather than them having to pay for the service if it was, for example, simply rolled into the overall cost of the vehicle.”

    ###

    If this was not what you’d hoped to hear, please don’t vote me down. I’m just passing on the comments. You asked, and I got OnStar’s answer.


  27. 27
    Dan Petit

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (3:54 pm)

    Austin Texas is right there already with plenty of wind energy capacity which is already within the power mix. Charge schedules at night are an automatic “in” for green energy.

    On another interesting note;
    I just got in the new SPX Genisys System 5.0/2011 software diagnostics upgrade, and, the Volt is certainly within this upgrade. I spent two hours this morning studying the new code structures, and it is very clear that the diagnostics instantly pinpoint the slightest irregularity. It is quite amazing to know the depth of precision that has been applied by the relentless genius of the GM design teams. Other OEM’s are honestly not even close to the GM advancements.

    Extremely impressive GM!!


  28. 28
    BLIND GUY

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (4:32 pm)

    Jeff, Thank you for your efforts. I really do think that free OnStar for original owners could sway some peoples purchase decision; which could affect the bigger picture of GM as a whole. Second best might be: same free service, except a small, auto-pay billed service for each personal assistance contact. In other words; any automated service is free while any live service would have a modest charge to a GM credit card, for example. I don’t mind and understand paying for live service but I feel maintaining the automated portion is more of a stable service. I like paying for only what I use and I hate when someone tells me I can afford something. I never blame the messenger BTW.


  29. 29
    kdawg

     

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (4:35 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: If this was not what you’d hoped to hear, please don’t vote me down. I’m just passing on the comments. You asked, and I got OnStar’s answer.

    But he didn’t answer what package level of OnStar is required for the Volt aps. When the 3 years runs out, what do people have to renew with to continue to be connected to their Volt? The full blown Navigation OnStar, or just the Safe & Sound package?


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    Jan 25th, 2012 (5:12 pm)

    Loboc:
    I’ve been in IT for over 30 years. I’m in favor of tech that makes our lives easier. This implementation seem to need too much end user tweaking and monitoring ( at least initially).

    Make it simple and non- intrusive and ya got a winner. All I want to do is drive. Messing around with uplinks and timers might be fun for 30 minutes or so, but I got better things to do with my time.

    What’s so monitoringly feeling, and tweaky and intrusive about setting a timer? If you don’t want the service don’t sign up.


  31. 31
    kdawg

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (6:22 pm)

    I keep seeing this banner ad on GM-Volt.com.
    http://en.giuliobarbieri.it/products/electric-vehicle-charging-station-self-energy

    I’m wondering if/when we will see DC to DC charging for these solar cells. Why take solar power and convert the DC to AC, only to have the Volt’s charger turn the AC back to DC?


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    Eco_Turbo

     

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (7:10 pm)

    Seems like an avenue to charge people who specify renewable energy more for their KWHs. From what I understand, just an extension of what happens with some home meters.


  33. 33
    SolarExec

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (7:11 pm)

    Strikes me as a huge waste of effort and money. Chasing green electrons when they come onto the grid? Really? It costs a bit less than a penny a kwh (at least where I live) to buy 100% renewable power for my house. (~12 cents a day for the Volt to run 100% renewable in electric mode.) The green energy we buy might not be running at the precise moment we are charging – and even if it were we would not have any way to know which electrons arrived at our house! – but who cares? We buy the output of a wind or solar farm from our utility. The utility then uses that power to dial back on natural gas or coal when it is available. All good.

    IMO, better to just sign up for a certified green electricity plan than mess with this OnStar gimmick.


  34. 34
    MichaelH

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (7:29 pm)

    CorvetteGuy,

    Wow, I really like that ad. Thanks for sharing.


  35. 35
    Noel Park

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (8:13 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: OT–

    Finally, after 15-plus months, Chevrolet has decided to add the words “Extended Range” to their tv ad for the VOLT:

    #24

    OUTSTANDING!!! +1


  36. 36
    Noel Park

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (8:14 pm)

    MichaelH:
    CorvetteGuy,

    Wow, I really like that ad.Thanks for sharing.

    #34

    Well you convinced me to go back and watch it, LOL. See above. It really IS good. Thanks. +1


  37. 37
    CorvetteGuy

     

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (8:36 pm)

    I really didn’t like the ad that much. It’s okay… but too slow paced for the SUPER BOWL where I’m told they are running it. People will be dashing to the fridge for another BUD while that ad is playing. No one will even remember it. But they sure as shootin’ gonna remember the new VW ‘star wars singing dogs’ ad. Sheesh….


  38. 38
    WORST AD EVER!

     

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (8:59 pm)

    GM can CGI substitute any vehicle in the ad, take out that 1 sec on the plug, and it works exactly the same as in, say, Cruze, Sonic, Spark, etc.

    IOW, no one really knows what vehicle GM is trying to sell, because the ad NEVER shows the entire vehicle, even for more than 1 sec.

    In fact, 0 sec on the Volt driving on the road at all. This, of course, also means that no one will know the advantages of a PHEV over, say, a Cruze, Sparks, Sonic, etc.

    And it’s even worse when GM was “forced” to build the Volt, as the message conveys…

    WORST AD EVER!


  39. 39
    Mark Z

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    Jan 25th, 2012 (10:50 pm)

    The ad is laughable in one way. A slow moving electric car on a track. It will be remembered as a very unique way to present a car, in parts, on the assembly line, running through your town. Be careful in LA or there will be graffiti sprayed on the sides of the vehicles while the Volts continue the build process in certain sections of town.

    Hopefully the nation will realize the most important message: The Volt is assembled in the USA and will help bring our economy back to health.


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    Janella Penington

     

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    Feb 14th, 2012 (2:24 pm)

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    scottf200

     

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    Feb 18th, 2012 (1:34 am)

    I’ve had issues with sending maps to the car (mapquest and maps.google) where as I expected the Virt Advisor to ask/download them but it/she states she can not give turn-by-turn directions.

    In talking with a couple different OnStar folks, they just had a *major* upgrade to their systems they use internally and seemed to have a few kinks but they were both pretty genuine in what it will provide as far as better service and smoother operations for them.

    Let’s hope that translates to better OnStar/MyVolt.COM stuff … perhaps they were just putting the pieces in place?!?!?