It seems many are still unaware of the concern that the Chevy Volt will lack an Emergency Mode. As I’ve said in the past, I won’t buy a first-generation Volt if it is missing this key safety feature.
What is an Emergency Mode? At first I wasn’t going to re-state this, but I feel it’s necessary based on the unawareness that I caught in this article’s comments. Essentially, this only applies to E-REV vehicles like the Volt. An E-REV is a car that is primarily electric, but can also recharge its battery via an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). You charge your car using a standard 110V or 220V outlet, and after about 40 miles… the car fires up its ICE and the battery recharges via gasoline, as you drive.
The moral hazard here is that, in order to ensure that the all-electric battery lasts a full 10 years, you never drain the battery down to zero. After about 40 miles, you still have (on a new battery) about half the capacity still charged. In theory, you could drive 80 miles without using gas… but that would do too much damage to the battery.
Well, what happens if you’re out of gas, and you’ve driven 40 miles. Let’s say there’s a hurricane bearing right for you… or a tornado… or some maniac that wants to kill you. Your car has the power to go another 20, 30, even 40 miles to safety… but it won’t let you. It’s designed to just shut down and sit there. And, you’re going to die in that type of situation.
I was pretty surprised the last time I talked about this, some idiots actually rationalized that “well, you should die in that case, it’s your own darn fault you got into that kind of situation.” There’s no getting through to those kind of people, much less trying to show them how a situation that could arise through no fault of your own.
Once again, as I’ve noted in the past, this doesn’t work with hybrids like the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight. Single-mode hybrids cars like these have very tiny batteries, that would only run for a very short distance without gasoline in the drive-train.
Some also complained about the potential for abuse, that some motorists would hit the Panic Button and engage the battery frequently… doing damage and voiding the warranty on the Volt’s battery. I showed GM how they could easily take advantage of the OnStar modem, inside every Volt, to send a signal to OnStar every time the Panic Button is pressed. After three strikes, the battery’s warranty would be voided. Plain, simple, and safe.
Unfortunately, few have taken up this cause, so here’s my call to arms. Tell GM you want an Emergency Mode on the Volt. Your safety in a dangerous situation is important enough to engineer this simple solution.
In case you’re wondering… what will I buy if the Volt lacks this option? Well, the Pontiac G8 GXP, as a pre-owned car is probably the direction I’m heading in. Half the price of the Volt, and twice the performance. Sure, it won’t be all-electric, but it is a Pontiac… and that’s better than the put-puts that GM is going to be churning out. I would have liked to buy a Chevy Caprice, but Bob Lutz didn’t get his way…