Heidi my greyhound

When Volts are available, here will be the place to talk about how to Detail, Maintain and Customize your Volt. Other good topics are charging (solar or otherwise) smartphone app usage, etc.
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:55 pm

Heidi my greyhound

Postby TommyBoy » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:44 pm

Yes, that's my nickname for my ordered / soon to become new Volt. The following topic thread is intended to be a mini-blog of sorts of the initial experiences: ordering, waiting, and more waiting, test drive, prep'g for it, receipt, initial commutes/around the town and first road trip, and what I'm learning from it all.

So far I am learning:
- The limits of Volt's product development lifecycle
- patience
- how people react to the idea

Project and product management is a fine art. As someone in IT (information technology), I often see how TOM (time to market) is both critical to the value of the product (market share, perceived worth, brand reputation, etc.) and limiting of its value and viability (update cycle, # and severity of post-launch fixes/support, cost of support/overhaead). I also see how difficult this problem is for those that manufacture a fixed/final product like furniture or an automobile. Actually, GM has impressed me with how ell they have managed overall the product development of the Volt.

That said, GM should have provided more colors than shades of grey: silver, Vivian Joule silver, cyber grey, and black. It reminds me of the saying attributed to Henry Ford, "We can sell you any color you like... so long as it's black." Where are the blue tones GM? Where are the browns? Thank goodness there is a red and a cream white. BUT with a revolutionary car, why not a "WOW!" color? ...like orange, a "Hotwheels color," etc.? In the end, given the limited number of colors, I am going with grey. i would have gladly had a radical Hotwheels chartruese! :ugeek:

Another limitation is the newness of the vehicle. The result is that GM has not yet been able to support test drives at the dealerships that it has selected and identified for Volt's initial sales. Bad idea. Every so designated dealer should have been provided/ordered one such "sample car" per Quarter (or whatever periodicity makes sense from a sales-production equation perspective). I have never bought a car that I have not driven. I am typical.

I have bought 1st generation/early release vehicles from Toyota and Mazda. Both dealers had a "sample car" to drive. Looking at the Hyundai Sonata at the beginniong of the year and at the Turbo Sonata when it came out later on, the dealer also had a "sample car." Am I that ahead in the Volt launch process or has GM placed more emphasis on hype (advertising) and thus set themselves up for higher roll-out expectations that they cannot reach? This issue will be fixed as the roll-out progresses, but it should have never sprung up.

Once I test drive the Volt, I may identify more basic product and roll-out limitations that GM, for some unknown reason, did not address/catch through their product development process. It also seems to me that GM could be putting at this stage of the PD lifecycle a lot more resources into the launch of sales and support for the Volt and perhaps less on mere advertising/buzz generation. Specifically, my dealer has seemed to have to discover several matters on his own. At least GM/Chevy has conducted some sales training for its dealers, and has put in place a customer service tel# just for Volt. Both have been helpful.

I am puzzled that my dealer has had to "go on a safari" to find out some of the most basic of consumer questions. But when he has, he has won me over as a customer since he consistently turns around and contacts me.

I never thought I'd buy a Chevrolet. I grew up in a Ford family. We bought Fords, period. I went off and bought German and Japanese cars since college. I worked for a company that supplied to people in my role a midsize GM (Buick and Oldsmobile). I hated mine. when I left there I went back to buying Japanese and German cars. I was looking to possibly even buy a Ford Fusion this time. But, my Chevy dealer has been a welcome surprise. The silence from GM on my order has not been so welcome.

Patience is both a blessing and an excuse for silence. Silence is deadly and keeps ships from getting sunk. Silence excuses inactivity, a curse. It helps us to be less egocentric, a blessing. It can also be the mental space that allows us to think of (and the motivation to try) an alternative, another blessing. But silence can also heighten or even blow out of proportion our egocentricities, making them deadly. And it kills the "welcome" we wish we'd given or received.

From Day 1, I've been confronted with waiting and silence. The day of the order, the computer went down and so my order had to be entered a day later.

I've already discussed the fact that I've not been able to test drive a sample Volt at my dealer. That silence got him and I to thinking about and making my order contingent, a blessed alternative. I'll not discuss how much I put down on the contingent order, but reading others' posts on the WWW, they and their dealers have been similarly creative. However, my dealer has not yet received any Volts even though he ordered the 1st day he was able to do so, accursed silence.

Another cursed silence has surrounded the teaser lease offered on the Volt: $350+/mo. Chevrolet's website for the volt declares it, but the website has no other information. And, following both the 'current offers' and the 'calulate your monthly payments' links on that website fails to include any information on the lease and prohibits using the lease as one's means of financing. Web chatting with the Chevy rep online is another dead end. I've tried more than once and the only information they've been given in their scripts is the promo and it has not yet been updated. I checked again this week.

"Example based on MSRP. Each dealer sets its own price. Your payments may vary. Payments are for a 2011 Volt with an MSRP of $41,000. 36 monthly payments total $12,600. Option to purchase at lease end for an amount to be determined at lease signing. Lessor must approve lease. Lessee pays for excess wear. Not available with other offers. Residency restrictions apply. Payments are an example based on current market conditions; actual payments in late 2010 when sales commence may vary based on changes in market conditions, including but not limited to money factor and residual applicable to vehicle. Includes benefit of tax credit, which benefits the lessor."

My dealer, again, being the go getter that he is demonstrating himself to be discivered that the lease is NOT by GMAC, and they have had to create a business relationship with this new 3rd-party finance company. Not a biggy, but again GM, it reflects on both the product launch process and is TEACHing patience with ambiguous silience.

So far, I am getting the following responses from my kith and kin:
1) honest inquiry
2) wonder and doubt
3) dismissal

Three friends in IT (information technology) have been most keen in asking me about the technology behind it. Another IT-type that has been following battery technology development, is a bit more wondering and skeptical as to how well GM has solved some of the problems that energy storage (batteries) and delivery entail. Two of my green energy friends (one is an owner of a 1st year Prius) are less interested in the techie aspects and more in the value of the plug-in aspect of the Volt. For example, how will it compare in energy efficiency to a Prius? ...Can PG&E give you any idea what % of their energy is renewable? ...Can you use solar panels on your roof to supply the total wattage (and possibly some spare) that the Volt will need for my driving habits? ...etc.

My spouse has asked much more practical questions: How much more will the Volt cost for a given month? What are our PG&E billing options and how will we be able to break-out your energy costs from the house as a whole (NOTE: we pay for our transportation costs individually in our home budget)? His sister is just as practical but focused on the driving experience: Will you like the 'umph' and turning radius (I currently drive a sports car that turns on a dime and has a pivot point about where the stick is located while she has driven/is test driving Acura, BMW and Mercedes)? ...Are the seats comfortable? ...Is it well enough equipped? ...How does it heat up the interior in the Winter and how fast is it in doing so?

Finally, I have some family members and a friend (from the MidWest) that are dismissive: You still need gas; it is not replacing gas. ...It is too expensive. ...Rush [Limbaugh] has said it only gets 40 miles on gas and electric. ...Rush and others have proven that the electricity is no cleaner than gasoline. ...etc.

I'll try to keep you informed what I discover.
Volt #898, aka "Heidi" (my greyhound) :cool:
GBV - Cyber Grey Metallic with upgrades: Premium Trim, Park Assist, Polished Al Wheels

Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:55 pm


Postby TommyBoy » Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:09 pm

"Speak of a devil and they shall appear" as the saying goes. That thought is behind the word "tuxedo" BTW. But, I just experienced the opposite happening to me. Not 10 min. after posting last week, my Chevy dealer called. He had his first Volt. This is the one that the dealership itself bought in order to run a local promotion. It includes the leather seats ('premium interior') and the park assist. Both of which I'd ordered.

He asked me if I wanted to take it for a short test drive: around the block and on/off the closest freeway. I, of course, jumped at the opportunity, but was fully 'armed' with my concerns, questions still needing to be answered. So I went there like I do a doctor's appointment with my laundry list. Here's what I discovered yesterday evening:

Here is a quick synopsis of my take-away’s:
Front Roominess – More room than many “passenger well” styled interiors
Fit and finish – Nice inside and out: appointments, leather, door seals, windows, engine compartment, etc.. Reminds me of a BMW or other higher-end car.
Console – Multi-mode inputs are great! So too is the layout and feel of the “fixed” controls.
Sound – Rich, not tinny
Driver seating position – Steering wheel and seat adjust nicely
Trunk privacy cover – flimsy cloth on bungee cords looks cheap and is impractical. It contrasts completely/clashes against the nicer look and feel of the rest of the interior, hurting its overall appeal. I think I am going to store it in a drawer until I find something better in the after-market.
Open pass-through to trunk – looks like someone forgot to put in the courtesy wall between the trunk and the passengers. Also this gap and the other “miss” are not good for heating/cooling the passenger space.
Rear seat – Leg room isn’t there, but door entry room is. Head room and shoulder room also are nicer than many small cars. Once you get your knees in, no hunched-back and cramped/pinched rides in this back seat for this six-footer.
Heating/Cooling – Seat warmers are fast and comfortable. Air ventilation heating is slow and weak. Even the salesman remarked that it was cooler than he'd have liked.
Driver’s seat – Where’s the lumbar support adjustment knob? Manual is OK (for me). Seat was, nevertheless, firm and supportive without being a Pine board.

Power – I was bit surprised by the instant power the Volt gives you. That instant power was also evident in starting up at the green lights, getting onto the freeway, and even turning right at signal lights (after stopping for the red, of course). No programmed restraint of an automatic. No sluggishness of a 4-cylinder. No occasional hesitation of a turbo. That said, it was also easy to get the feel of and so not an untamable beast either. Very nice!
Solid Feel – It was very sure-footed on the open road. It seemed to enjoy speed as much as the driver. I felt like I was in control and could have easily pushed it ...if this wasn't a dealer test drive and this wasn’t his only copy.
Nice and Quiet – No air noise. No motor noise. Some may find it eerie, but I found it comforting, allowing me to listen to the car more intently as well as the stereo (without cranking it up in conjunction with higher speeds)
None. ...enough said!
Turning & Responsiveness – Is a lot easier in a parking lot than I expected, but turning radius is also bigger than I expected. That said, DEFINITELY NOT a 'boat' like a crossover or a midsize+ car. Instead, the steering is sure. Driving a Volt may not be as nimble as my 2-seater sports car, but I think it will still be as fun to drive.
Pot holes – We hit one and it seemed to bottom out a little.
Brakes – Ours lost something during the drive (no, not after the pot hole), firing off an alert to get the car serviced. At that point the brakes also seemed to lose more strength than I was comfortable with for more than a day.

So am I ready to drop the contingency? In a word: DEFINITELY! :ugeek:

Did I? You bet.
Volt #898, aka "Heidi" (my greyhound) :cool:
GBV - Cyber Grey Metallic with upgrades: Premium Trim, Park Assist, Polished Al Wheels

Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:55 pm

GM's Order Tracking Websites

Postby TommyBoy » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:57 pm

Two order tracking (status/updates) have been identified for the Volt. I frequent both, but prefer the GMConnects one - http://www.chevroletconnects.com - because of its email notifications, its actual content, and its display works well within a Blackberry as well as a PC/MAC Webrowser.

Consider my order's recent updates:
- I was notified last month when the order went to the assembly line
- I was notified Tuesday when it finished it's assembly and received its VIN
- I was notified today (Thursday) when it was bayed for transportation.

Also the details and history of the order is right there on the status page as 2 separate tabs. Nice! 8-)

It would really be nice :o if the same kind of tracking was provided for the electrical charger.
Last edited by TommyBoy on Sun Jan 30, 2011 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Volt #898, aka "Heidi" (my greyhound) :cool:
GBV - Cyber Grey Metallic with upgrades: Premium Trim, Park Assist, Polished Al Wheels

Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:55 pm

Good minds think alike

Postby TommyBoy » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:40 pm

For example:
- It seems that I am not the only person that thinks the open pass-through between the back seat and the cargo area is a "miss." A cover is now available as an after-market accessory at the dealership. Called a "Rear Seat Storage/Barrier" and a "Cargo Organizer" it is available to see here http://www.gmaccessorieszone.com/Chevrolet/2011/Volt/. It is described in one forum as attached by Velcro, but not (too?) cheesy. I still wish there was a true armrest/fold-down from a true barrier. But, I've seen similar in roadcars so I'll take what I can get for now.
- In talking with my dealer, I understand that GM WILL BE supplying a sample volt for test drives.

Nice to see that the old saying is holding true, and that GM is still improving their product/its launch. I hope to see more along this lines. It will surely demonstrate "the new GM."
Volt #898, aka "Heidi" (my greyhound) :cool:
GBV - Cyber Grey Metallic with upgrades: Premium Trim, Park Assist, Polished Al Wheels

Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:55 pm

Updated Signature

Postby TommyBoy » Sun Jan 30, 2011 5:39 pm

I updated my signature in this forum yesterday since:
a) I got an update about 2+ weeks ago to let me know my car had made it through the assembly line, and
b) I got another update within 3 days of the 1st notice that Heidi was accepted into shipping, and
c) I got a third update at the end of last week that it had been shipped by rail, even giving me the carrier. About that time, my dealer also emailed me to let me know that "it should be here in the next week or so."

So Heidi is on her way! It is fun :D , but we have to maintain our calm exterior!! :ugeek:
Volt #898, aka "Heidi" (my greyhound) :cool:
GBV - Cyber Grey Metallic with upgrades: Premium Trim, Park Assist, Polished Al Wheels

Site Admin
Posts: 108
Joined: Sun Jul 11, 2010 9:48 pm

Re: Heidi my greyhound

Postby PatrickZWang » Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:50 pm

Sweet Tommy!

The volt turns heads like none other! It's great being one of the first with one!


Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:55 pm

One step closer

Postby TommyBoy » Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:48 pm

It seems we are one step closer to getting our Volt. I received a notice today that it was de-trained yesterday.

So when will I get to meet Heidi at my dealer? ;)
Volt #898, aka "Heidi" (my greyhound) :cool:
GBV - Cyber Grey Metallic with upgrades: Premium Trim, Park Assist, Polished Al Wheels

Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:55 pm

Re: Heidi my greyhound

Postby TommyBoy » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:42 am

The date has been set: This Friday we'll be seeing and picking up Heidi :mrgreen:

I'll post pictures afterwards. Not that I'm excited, proud or anything... :ugeek:
Volt #898, aka "Heidi" (my greyhound) :cool:
GBV - Cyber Grey Metallic with upgrades: Premium Trim, Park Assist, Polished Al Wheels

Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:55 pm

Re: The 1st Month

Postby TommyBoy » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:14 pm

So it has been a month since I took possession of Heidi.

Here is a picture of that day
Picking up Heidi, 04Feb11
Picking_up_Heidi.jpg (28.86 KiB) Viewed 5770 times

Greg Kim, my salesman, was great giving me making sure my onStar was setup (including my mobile app), going over everything in the car, and even the nickle tour of the dealership and its service center. And, since we'd gone over the finance options ahead of time and particular T&Cs of the $350 lease program, that part went smoothly as well.

The drive of my normal commute is short. ...About 4 miles round trip: 2 down the hill and two back up it. Since that day, I've tried charging every night, charging once a work week, etc.. I've deliberately driven beyond the range of the electric charge and made sure to use up a full tank to help make sure the gas motor gets a decent break-in. I've made sure I've commuted to the South Bay during 880 rush hour. I've driven on day trips using Sport and Mountain just to begin to get the feel of them. I've driven city streets, hilly ones, I-580 and 880, and a couple of more rural ones here in the Bay Area.

My impressions:
1) The nimbleness and pick-up remain a sweet note of the Volt. The heating/cooling remains the pronounced "mixed"/druther matter.
2) I wish...
- The charge did not get eaten up so quickly on the highway. It seems to me that the gas motor could assist a little sooner (e.g., when accelerating while getting on from the ramp).
- The steering wheel had paddle shifters so I could switch between D and L more readily. The transmission lever is just not the same as a manual stick.
- Sport and Mountain drive modes stayed "on" (like cruise control) so when you start up the car, it is in the same mode as when you last drove it.
- I understood all the ins-and-outs of the center console. Still learning it.
- The onStar navigation included the locations of public EV chargers as a point-of-interest. It could either be a fixed display item or a selectable one.
- The "vroom" of start-up could be turned off. ...or at least selectable like a ringtone.
- There were more, as well as coordinated, accessories. For example, some nice lime green umbrellas might go nicely with the green accent package, and grey ones might work well with the silver accent. Also, there should be several smartphone stands designed to work on/in the lower section of the center peninsula to take advantage of the outlet and pass-trough in the armrest.
- The front rubber dam did not scrape: on my driveway, at each corner as I drive down the hill (thanks to the drainage gullies in the road), and so many other times.
- The manuals and other paperwork came in a leather, rip-nylon or other sturdy pouch/jacket for safe keeping in the car.
- The onStar smartphone app (Android) did not forget its username and password everytime there is an update of the app.
3) I am glad...
- I bought from the dealer that I did. They threw-in the cargo-backseat wall as a small thank you [the gap was one of my "misses" discovered in my test drive. Please see earlier post.] They have also helped with a couple of questions and minor hick-ups.
- My experience getting the Level-2 charger went so smooth. And, it did not cost me a dime (yet).
CT500 Installed, 08Mar11
CT500.jpg (18.38 KiB) Viewed 5770 times

The gap in the drywall is mine to replace and that is the "yet" of the earlier sentence.
Volt #898, aka "Heidi" (my greyhound) :cool:
GBV - Cyber Grey Metallic with upgrades: Premium Trim, Park Assist, Polished Al Wheels

Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:55 pm

Re: Heidi my greyhound

Postby TommyBoy » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:42 pm

Well it has been a little over six months and i promised myself to write a check-in at that point in time so here it is...

Talking to another auto buff at work, I'll use the following format: a) what do I like the most, b) what do I like the least, c) what would I improve, and d) what am I still wanting/needing to still get to know better?

Like MOST: 1st, the pickup and steering of this car. 2nd'ly, this is a well made, solid feel car. As one parking lot attendant told me, "Chevy has really upped their game with this one."

Like LEAST: Almost no parking lots have electrical charging stations, even here in the Bay Area. It ought to be as necessary/incentivized as handicap parking slots. Office complexes as well as shopping centers, as well as city and commercial parking lots need EVCs. Sadly, I heard that the City of Mills Valley decided NOT to install two (2) stations recently despite being given incentives to install them: http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_18948602. Should EV owners boycott in return?

IMPROVE: This is a biggy!!! This is a safety issue!!! Relocate the drive mode button away from the on/off button. Twice in the six months, I've been driving and mistakenly hit the on/off button when I wanted to switch drive mode. Once, on the freeway, I even turned off the car by mistake doing this error. They are simply too close together. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel for the drive mode would also solve this issue for most drivers shifting modes while driving.

STILL LEARNING: The entertainment segment and voice commands segment of the console. I try, but almost never get a call placed through the voice commands. I've still not had a chance to work through the entertainment system beyond the plethora of radio stations.
Last edited by TommyBoy on Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
Volt #898, aka "Heidi" (my greyhound) :cool:
GBV - Cyber Grey Metallic with upgrades: Premium Trim, Park Assist, Polished Al Wheels

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