Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I got a call from Colin at Enterprise Burbank today and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the concerns I had after my last rental experience during my Volt's service were being looked at and changes were planned. He said they had added a new person for the wash rack (hmmm... added or replaced?) and were planning to work on ensuring that cars had a 1/2 tank of gas when handed over to the customer. I told Colin that I had discussed the issue with my service adviser at Community Chevrolet and that he said many of his customers have complained to him. But I also told Colin I appreciate his reaching out to me and I would give him another try. All in all, a very nice gesture.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Charge Cord

Picked up the new charging cord from Vic at Community Chevrolet this morning. They needed to adjust the paperwork but they said they would mail my copy to me so I wouldn't have to wait around. I had a chance to talk to Vic about the rental car experience and he said he gets blowback from his customers all the time about that. Of course, there's nothing he can do about it, but nice to vent to a sympathetic ear.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Volt Sighting!

Saw a white Volt today at the corner of Denny and Victory, heading east on Victory.

On top of that, when I got to work in Pasadena this morning, a bus driver got my attention and asked about how much MPG I get. When I told him I was getting about 800 MPG right now, he thought I didn't understand him. So I explained, briefly, about using mostly electricity except when on longer trips. He was amazed. :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Whoa! How the Chevy Volt Became a BMW???

Now this is a cool article. I had to watch the Volt powertrain video too.

"What's the bottom line here? BMW's best engineers examined the Chevy Volt and concluded that it was going to be the car to beat. They were so desperate to copy it that they hired the chief project manager of the Volt to make it happen as quickly as possible. I think BMW's finest engineers know a little more about what makes the best car, than some U.S. pundit who has never even driven the Volt."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Service Complete... almost!

Ah! Got my Voltie back this afternoon and man am I glad to be done with that noisy, vibrating Impala rental. I bitched to Enterprise about the gas thing and they gave me a 1/4 tank credit to use next time. At least it was something.

So when Vic, the service adviser at Community Chevrolet, called me and said I could pick up my car, he said that the one thing they were waiting on was the replacement 120v charge cord. It is supposed to be in tomorrow, and he will call me to come by and exchange my old cord for it. They are holding the paperwork open until then.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Drop Off For Service

My Volt Adviser had arranged an appointment for me to get the "Enhancements for side impact pole performance" done and so this morning at 8:05 AM, I went to the Community Chevrolet service department and they had no idea who I was or why I was there. Vic Marshi, the service adviser, did not have a record of my appointment. He said there was no problem at all in doing the service today. Actually there were 3 campaigns that needed to be done including an air bag check and a charge cord enhancement of some kind. Vic was excellent and the glitch of not finding the appointment was not at all an issue for me, but it did prompt me to follow up with my Volt Adviser to see what happened.

Unfortunately, the rental car experience was not as good. Enterprise came and picked me up at the dealer and I was given a choice of three Chevrolet models, and I had no preference so they gave me a Chevy Impala LT. (Next time, maybe I will look the car over and ask a few questions before deciding!) The Impala is what you would expect from a rental, not horrible but not really nice even on a good day, but on this day it had bug splat remains all over the paint from a very poor washing, and, as it turns out, only 1/8 of a tank of gas. (The dude who walked me through the handoff of the car said 1/4.) This is the second time I've gotten a rental from this facility when I have had my Volt serviced and both times I have had to put gas in the car before I could get on the road to work. This is *really* unacceptable. Whatever contract GM has with Enterprise, they need to specify that the car have some gas in it! I think 1/2 tank minimum to start. I ended up having to wait in line to gas it up before I could go anywhere. Unbelievable. This absolutely HAS to improve.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report

This actually arrived in my In Box on March 14th, but just now getting around to posting it.

Mileage: 6557

Electric Miles: 441
Gas Miles: 1
Total Miles: 442

Percentage on Electric: 100 %

Oil life: Still at 83%

Electric Consumption:  33 kW-hr/100 miles

Tire rotation is still due at 7500 miles.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

News of the Enhancement

Got an email from my Volt adviser today saying they can start to schedule appointments for the battery compartment enhancement any time after March 19th. She said it will likely take a couple of days, so asked if I would need a rental or loaner vehicle. I asked for an EV or Volt loaner, but I bet I get an Enterprise rental Malibu. As with the software enhancement done earlier, it will reset the EV range estimation and some of the preference settings. I asked for a morning drop off. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Wash and Wax

Sunny and a bit warm today, I decided I would pull the Pontiac out of the front garage and do my weekly car cleaning in there instead of out in the sun like last week. When it's hot like that I have so many problems getting the Aquanil-X product buffed off the paint. Since I now seem to have TWO cars to do each weekend, I don't need it being any harder. Working in the garage was nice. I have decent lighting and an iPod hooked up to a cheapo stereo that sounds just fine for a garage. I can sit on an office chair with wheels to do the sides, instead of stooping and kneeling. Works out pretty well. I did my Voltie first, then Bob's ActiveE. His wheels get much dirtier than mine and are harder to clean, having a more complex rib design. But the CroftGate products make pretty easy work out of it. No water needed.

Don't know how many weeks I'm going to want to do *both*cars, but I'll keep doing it until I feel worn out.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Side Trip

I had to go over to Sunset this morning so that little side trip made me use up all my electrons with still a mile to go on my way home tonight. No worries, the generator got me home just fine. :-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Silent Approach

Had my first close encounter with a pedestrian stepping off the curb and right into my path tonight as I was leaving work. I was going fairly slow as I was approaching a stop sign. He was walking the same direction I was driving and was going to cross the street. I kept my eye on him and when he started veering towards the curb I was ready. I could have hit my little pedestrian notification device, which is activated by pulling the turn signal stalk towards you. But at that point it was a little too late and when I touched the brakes, the tires made enough noise that he looked up and stopped. He was never in any danger, but it proves that you have to watch for such things when moving at low speeds near people.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hot Wax!

Wow, I went out to wash and wax my Voltie after breakfast this morning... OK morning was over, it was after 12... but as I sprayed my AQUANIL-X and wiped it off, I noticed it was really difficult to buff out to the usual shine. Then I noticed the overspray was turning white and drying almost as fast as it hit the paint. I had noticed it was kinda warm out, and the car was sitting in the sun, but this has not been a problem for several weeks when I've washed the car. Well I checked the thermometer and lo and behold! It's 90° out! And in the sun, I'm sure it's a lot hotter for that product hitting the paint. What a dummy I am! OK, back inside to wait for the sun to go down. I've got some movies to catch up on anyway. ;-)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Volt Manufacturing Hiatus

So last night the NY Times reported that the Volt assembly line will take a hiatus for 5 weeks because, well, lets be blunt, the cars aren't selling as well as expected. My reaction is exasperation on many levels.

  • GM has had garbage for advertisement on these cars. They don't explain what the car is at all. They don't mention the upscale features, so some people think it's an economy car and are shocked by the premium car price tag. But it *is* indeed a premium car, and is priced pretty well for such a car, especially when offset by the lower cost to fuel and operate it. If GM set expectations in its advertising so folks understood this is a Lexus/Buick-level car, then the sticker shock could be avoided. GM doesn't mention the lower maintenance costs, the ability to drive across country, the way the fuel economy rating is pretty much the worst you will get instead of the best, as in other cars... the list goes on and on of the stuff people aren't hearing about. Having the BMW Active-E in the family now is an eye-opener. There is no retail price on it, as the car is not for sale, but there is an implied retail figure and people are definitely *not* surprised at how high it is in the slightest. But the"Chevy" is always a shock to those same people. Guess why! GM has to counteract that.
  • The fire incident, no matter how silly or unwarranted, hurt the car's image. And the likes of Fox News will do their best to keep it in people's minds. So GM needs to *indirectly* address that by talking up how safe the car really is. Talk about the number of airbags, its crash rating, its satisfied drivers... anything to counteract the incredibly persistent memory people have for bad news.
  • The car is a *horrendous* political football. Fox News likes to condemn it regularly. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) can't keep his nose out of it. Wing nuts say it's "Gubmint Motors" trying to ram something bad down our good citizen's throats...  it's ridiculous. Where is the story about the guy who drove across country doing an average of 75 MPH through deserts, hills and valleys, with no problems and great gas mileage? GM could host some kind of endurance or long-range touring event and get Matt Lauer to interview General Motors CEO Dan Akerson about the results of such an event. Come on, this isn't brain surgery. Forum after forum that I am on has people who have never even seen the car, let alone driven one, talking about how bad it is and how it will never succeed... the negativity from uninformed and highly vocal people is withering.
  • The car was designed while W was in office and before the financial meltdown. It has nothing to do with today's economy and is nothing but a well engineered alternative fuel vehicle. It's been thoroughly developed and tested *before* delivery to buyers/lessors. (Unlike a certain German car... the Active-E... that also resides in this household now.)
  • As good as it is, the car is not perfect. The 40-ish mile battery range is fine for every day and most of the time I don't need any more. Obviously, when I do, there is the generator. I'm very satisfied with the car's range and capability. But the truth is that just an extra 10 miles would make me feel even more satisfied on some psychological level, and would allow me to maybe use the "sport" mode more often if I felt like it. It's silly, but it's there. And the design, while highly effective and seamless, is becoming very slightly dated already, if only from an aspect of how people think about such cars. All that aside, the car is amazing in just how transparent the technology is. You can just get in the car and drive - anywhere - without giving the mechanics and electronics much thought. You just drive like any other car. As opposed to something like the Active-E, which is intentionally designed to be different in how it is operated. 
I sure hope things turn around soon. I think it's pretty obvious that electric cars with batteries, and perhaps a range extender of some kind like a gasoline engine or a hydrogen stack will be needed for the future. And I think that once people start hearing the truth about how good such vehicles are, the faster the change will happen. But GM needs to start doing some serious advertising and get their head out of their nether parts.