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Volts are in many ways like a cell phone, you charge them every night, you use them in all weather conditions, you expect them to be ready to go 24/7....

Now, why i can not update volt software to latest version as soon as it is released?


Why my 2011 volt can not have the same driving modes than the 2013 ? at the end is software, should be able to update !
 

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Three reasons.

1) Some of the "software" changes also require hardware changes.

2) Because car manufacturers have "never" made changes to vehicle software to add features to existing vehicles. Bug fixes and updates, sure all the time. But to us, treating the vehicle like we do our PCs, phones, etc. is something very new. I predict we will update user interfaces in the future but I don't expect things that effect the driveability of the vehicle to be updated. Too much chance a change will cause an unexpected issue. Also, the testing requirements to patch 10 past model years of vehicles would be huge. If your iPhone 3 crashes when you put iPhone 5 apps on it that's one thing. When your vehicle is rendered inoperable, it's a bit more serious.

3) Some things may be effected by federal and state regulations.
 

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Three reasons.

1) Some of the "software" changes also require hardware changes.

2) Because car manufacturers have "never" made changes to vehicle software to add features to existing vehicles. Bug fixes and updates, sure all the time. But to us, treating the vehicle like we do our PCs, phones, etc. is something very new. I predict we will update user interfaces in the future but I don't expect things that effect the driveability of the vehicle to be updated. Too much chance a change will cause an unexpected issue. Also, the testing requirements to patch 10 past model years of vehicles would be huge. If your iPhone 3 crashes when you put iPhone 5 apps on it that's one thing. When your vehicle is rendered inoperable, it's a bit more serious.

3) Some things may be effected by federal and state regulations.
Pete -

I understand that you're not a mouthpiece for GM, but those sound like excuses instead of reasons, quite frankly - "we've never done that way before, so why start now."

Can you explain how adding "hold mode" to 2011-2012 MY Volts falls into category 1 or 3? I'm not familiar enough with the inner workings of the software in the Volt, but it sure seems that hold mode doesn't require new hardware and there is no regulatory issue with it, it's more the "old school" company not wanting to do something different. Contrast that with a more "modern" company like Tesla, sending out betas to users to try out. My company isn't the most progressive one on the planet, but we ship new features quarterly and our customers decide if they want to accept them. This isn't consumer products, rather its pretty intensely real time embedded software running the cellular network - a fairly sophisticated heterogeneous network of systems. You have the luxury of all of the parts coming from the same company...

GM seems stuck in the "fire and forget" model of shipping, that a vehicle is a unit and if its not required to fix something then it won't. Just think how it would suck for the first users of Google that they'd be stuck with the interface, search database, and content from 1997 - that's a bit how "car manufacturers" (and toaster manufacturers and other hardware-dominated companies) treat their customers. We used to be there, 20 years ago. Radios were complex analog hardware - now they're sophisticated ASICs and DSPs with baseband & analog seperated making the majority of the system independent of frequency bands. That's not to say that older hardware can do everything, but we work had to ensure viability long after the sale.

People who run businesses (the "suits") want to monetize these kins of things. Fine: sell upgrades to software-dominated features as products and the perspective may change - make it a customer choice: want hold mode? Well it's $2000 and comes with these other features. The work changes from a cost (& possible liability avoidance) to a revenue-generator. That's what we did to get the suits on board and now it's a major part of our business.
 

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This is not meant as an excuse or reason to not push upgrades but adding hold mode, for example, would make the original owners and previous service manuals invalid.
 

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I agree 100%. Tesla does indeed promise that they will offer updates to their cars via software- to both new and existing owners. And the Old Guard will find themselves losing sales to young (and old) consumers who realize that this is a vastly superior model.

It will play out the exact same way cell phones did five years ago. Back then, what you bought was what you were stuck with until you went and got a totally new phone. Then Apple came along with the iPhone that delivered new features via software updates, established themselves as the most profitable cell phone in history, and hasn't looked back. Cars will get there too, it will just take longer. Anyone who thinks otherwise is stuck in a bygone era.
 

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This has to be at least the tenth thread on selling software upgrades to previous year Volts.

We have several posters who regularly come up with reasons why GM won't do it, but none of these posters are speaking from within the GM Volt team.

At the risk (certainty) of repeating myself, here is a business model and here are the problems. GM would package software improvements and optional fixes into a Service Pack and offer them once a year. Each Service Pack for a model year would include all previous Service Packs for that model year. GM already tests plenty of software changes for each model year, I think they call them calibrations. One more QA run should be routine. After 10 model years, there would only be 10 available Service Packs, but they would be fairly similar. So far, it sounds like the GPS model.

Problem 1: Think about how the world assesses GM vs. Toyota - number of new cars sold. Microsoft is assessed on revenue and profits. Selling new Windows or Office versions to users is more profitable than selling OEM licenses to manufacturers. This reputational issue has real consequences for GM. They need us to trade in our Volts even though there is little prospect of hitting the economic trade-in point in less than a decade. What will wear out in a 90% EV vehicle?

Problem 2: Think about buying a new car. You can get a lot of detail on dealer costs, make apple-to-apple comparisons of prices between dealers, and the condition of the car is never an issue. Now think about a used car. No two cars are the same, there are multiple conflicting price references, the dealer always knows more about actual local used car sales than you do, and you can't know everything about the condition of the vehicles. Where do you think the dealer has the bigger profit opportunity? You don't have to guess - the Wall Street Journal said that dealers make the big money on the used car lot and that's where they put their best salesmen.

Consider how enthusiastic either GM or the dealers would be about selling an almost perpetual car.

I think that part of the answer is letting the dealer sell the Service Packs, the way Toyota but not GM sells GPS database upgrades. The rest will come from competition from companies like Tesla and BMW that are already sending out feature upgrades. Time will tell.

In the meanwhile, while no Volt insider is addressing the issues raised in these software upgrade threads in any detail, you can bet that they are reading our posts.
 

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I'm taking my 2013 in today for a software update to address a couple of issues identified by GM (parking brake and charging time control.) I am VERY happy this was not some update pushed over the air because it's my CAR. I want an expert to do it and make sure it works properly. If an update causes my phone to malfunction, well that's not potentially going to kill me. My car, on the other hand...
 

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Remember too that if an update hoses a phone, no big deal and it does not generally cost $$$$ to fix. Hosing a car is a much bigger deal and a lot more expensive to correct, especially if the car is not usable.

On the flip side, there is no reason GM could not update non critical systems over the air, such as the infotainment or NAV system.

I do not understand why the features of the car are not more customization--- such as

being able to default Parking Assist to off
Number of blink the turn signal will do when it is tapped left or right
Headlights automatically coming on when the wipers are on
Why are the seat belt warning not all in one place

As much as I love my Volt... there needs to be a little more polishing on the interfaces/screens.
 

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If the dealers make most of their money on the used cars, wouldn't it make more sense to apply upgrades of software to the vehicle, even if the previous owner would not do it? That would raise the value of the vehicle for resale at little or no cost to the dealer. So they gave the previous owner less, and can charge more to the next owner. Or use those upgrades as a negotiating platform. "OK buddy, you can have this beauty right here for $18999. The hold mode upgrade usually costs $125.00, but if you buy right now, I can toss that in for free".

I can see the point of legal liability to GM on adding/changing features of a vehicle that has already passed federal testing, but I see little problems in adding new features to components like the audio system, or maybe to add some new graphics to the display modules. And I really doubt that hold mode has any hardware involved. Isn't it really just a modified version of mountain mode? Instead of kicking in at 15 remaining miles of range, it just kicks in immediately. Or am I missing something?

And as far as the user manuals, make them a pdf file that can be displayed on the user screen. When updates are available, put in a list of changes at the beginning of the document. That file could then be updated as software is changed. And allow me to upload that document to any device I want to, computer, tablet, phone, etc.

I think that most of us here understand there are costs involved to GM to make software upgrades available. I am not asking for those to be free. Publish a price list and let me decide if I think it is worth it to add that feature.

If a feature can't be implemented because of new hardware requirements, then just make that known. If we really need it, we can consider a trade in of the existing car for a new one with the features we need. Isn't that what we do with electronic equipment now? I still have an old 386 based computer that still works, but I certainly do not expect it to run Win-8.....

GM and/or the dealers could be making money on this. And isn't making money what it is all about? I would never consider trading in my 2012 Volt # C5277 just to get hold mode, but I would consider paying a reasonable fee for that upgrade. And when it is time to buy a new vehicle, I would certainly look at another GM model, as I know they are trying to keep me happy as a customer!

JMHO

C-5277
 

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I agree 100%. Tesla does indeed promise that they will offer updates to their cars via software- to both new and existing owners. And the Old Guard will find themselves losing sales to young (and old) consumers who realize that this is a vastly superior model.

It will play out the exact same way cell phones did five years ago. Back then, what you bought was what you were stuck with until you went and got a totally new phone. Then Apple came along with the iPhone that delivered new features via software updates, established themselves as the most profitable cell phone in history, and hasn't looked back. Cars will get there too, it will just take longer. Anyone who thinks otherwise is stuck in a bygone era.
I agree entirely. The fact is, Tesla owners of the Model S already receive over-the-air updates. GM had better get with the times, like discussed.
 

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Pete -

I understand that you're not a mouthpiece for GM, but those sound like excuses instead of reasons, quite frankly - "we've never done that way before, so why start now."

Can you explain how adding "hold mode" to 2011-2012 MY Volts falls into category 1 or 3? I'm not familiar enough with the inner workings of the software in the Volt, but it sure seems that hold mode doesn't require new hardware and there is no regulatory issue with it, it's more the "old school" company not wanting to do something different.
Actually Hold mode absolutely has regulatory implications and that is the reason it wasn't offered initially here in the states while Europe got it. By giving the driver this control, it presents the possibility of not using all of your electric range in a given trip. This affects fuel economy and CO2 emissions which presented an issue with EPA ratings. Obviously they've since cleared this hurdle, but let's not simply assume GM is just making excuses.

And Pete didn't say that just because they've never done business this way they won't start now. He said they've never done it this way so it's new, and then added that he expects they will progress towards this model (that doesn't just happen overnight). And as he points out, the risks are high. The cost of a SW update gone bad on your personal vehicle is immense, it's not a phone or computer.

This needs to be looked at objectively from GM's perspective as a business decision. I get the impression that a lot of folks simply think that because they as a consumer want this, GM should just provide it. And if GM doesn't, any reason given (be it valid or not) will simply be dismissed as an excuse. There are real costs to GM, and it doesn't necessarily translate into revenue generation. There needs to be a clear business case with a positive ROI. And don't assume that improved customer retention will meet this criteria. This is a nice to have for the vast majority of buyers, not a deal breaker.

Let's give Tesla some time before using them as a comparison. Most of their SW updates so far have been to address issues missed in development, such as the high parasitic losses. Their last SW update, to introduce a sleep mode, had a number of new bugs it introduced and they had to quickly roll it back. And let's not forget that they only have 1 model and 1 model year to support. When they have multiple models several years out with other SW/HW changes over the years, let's see if they continue this practice of adding features.
 

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Volts are in many ways like a cell phone, you charge them every night, you use them in all weather conditions, you expect them to be ready to go 24/7....
I like your description about the Volt.

You can classify the Volt (and any EREV or BEV) as the only true mobile electronic device or electrical appliance that actually carries you!!

Raymond
 

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Actually Hold mode absolutely has regulatory implications and that is the reason it wasn't offered initially here in the states while Europe go it. By giving the driver this control, it presents the possibility of not using all of your electric range in a given trip. This affects fuel economy and CO2 emissions which presented an issue with EPA ratings. Obviously they've since cleared this hurdle, but let's not simply assume GM is just making excuses.
BS. Hold mode is NO DIFFERENT than what I can do today in my MY 2012 Volt using Mountain Mode if its engaged with ~35% SOC (or whatever that number is). Here's where it is different - if I engage MM with <35% SOC (again, enter the same number as above), MM will charge the battery pack while Hold mode won't. Sound like MM is the dangerous, range reducing option that effects the EPA ratings.

In either case, that hurdle has been cleared, so what other barriers, besides GM, is in the way?

Contrast this feature with MyLink, which seems to actually require different hardware.

I'm not intending to attack Pete, just his company and the nameless, faceless people there that can't see an opportunity. I don't know all of the decisions that go into saying no, but saying no is the easiest thing for a bureaucrat to do. Saying yes means taking a risk, and risks have downsides. ("3 things can happen when you pass the ball, and two of them are bad." -- Woody Hayes; note the current state of passing in college football. Things often change when someone takes a risk...)
 

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Actually Hold mode absolutely has regulatory implications and that is the reason it wasn't offered initially here in the states while Europe go it. By giving the driver this control, it presents the possibility of not using all of your electric range in a given trip. This affects fuel economy and CO2 emissions which presented an issue with EPA ratings. Obviously they've since cleared this hurdle, but let's not simply assume GM is just making excuses.

And Pete didn't say that just because they've never done business this way they won't start now. He said they've never done it this way so it's new, and then added that he expects they will progress towards this model (that doesn't just happen overnight). And as he points out, the risks are high. The cost of a SW update gone bad on your personal vehicle is immense, it's not a phone or computer.

This needs to be looked at objectively from GM's perspective as a business decision. I get the impression that a lot of folks simply think that because they as a consumer want this, GM should just provide it. And if GM doesn't, any reason given (be it valid or not) will simply be dismissed as an excuse. There are real costs to GM, and it doesn't necessarily translate into revenue generation. There needs to be a clear business case with a positive ROI. And don't assume that improved customer retention will meet this criteria. This is a nice to have for the vast majority of buyers, not a deal breaker.

Let's give Tesla some time before using them as a comparison. Most of their SW updates so far have been to address issues missed in development, such as the high parasitic losses. Their last SW update, to introduce a sleep mode, had a number of new bugs it introduced and they had to quickly roll it back. And let's not forget that they only have 1 model and 1 model year to support. When they have multiple models several years out with other SW/HW changes over the years, let's see if they continue this practice of adding features.
My biggest issue is not what you say but that you and not GM is saying it. I'd like to hear from a Volt team member about the issues you raise. All we get from GM is generalities.

GM distributes updates (called calibrations) to critical software all the time to fix bugs. I guess they know how to test these updates reliably. One feature update release per model year per year would not add a big burden to the Volt QA group and at least this upgrade would come with revenue.

I don't know if you've been to the trade shows, but all the big car makers have EVs at least ready to gear up for production. Software feature updates may not be a deal breaker for EVs as a class, but when you consider the background of the typical EV buyer, it's a decider between brands. We just don't get frozen software and we don't see why buying new hardware makes a software enhancement any safer. Given the number of Volt patches out there and the absence of software-related accidents, Volt has QA and regression testing down to a science.

As for ROI, EVs are much too early in the innovation cycle for ROI to control decisions. This is the stage where you try to dominate the market, control standards, and then create a virtuous cycle where revenue from one model year funds R&D for later years. ROI will follow.

Until I hear otherwise from the Volt team, I will continue to believe that the importance of regular trade-ins to the existing business model is dominating GM's decision on selling software feature updates.
 

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So if they will sell an update to the nav system, why not let us first adopters that helped get the ball rolling at premium prices, get an update to our cars for software only things like the hold button, or the screen that shows energy being used or generated? We paid a lot more for our cars to begin with but would pay a bit more for things like these so I don't have to trade in my 2011. I figure the cost to trade up to a 2013 would be over $7,000 "IF" I can get another $7,500 tax rebate and the current $1,500 Calif rebate. $15,000 if I was not able to qualify for those. A couple of thousand for a upgrade package for useful things they did not put on the first ones would be great.

I am not an Apple fan but the reason they grew to one of the largest corporations in the world is they did not do things the same old way. Tesla is doing the same thing to the auto Industry. It will be interesting to see if GM will stay a leader or let others take it away. GM was bold and made a great car in the Volt. Just hope it doesn't end there.

Roy Volt #1019
 

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[Off-Topic] Definitely I can understand and appreciate why GM is reluctant to release new software that includes a major change like Hold Mode. It's extremely risky and it's not fixing a defect or safety issue, per se.

For the life of me I cannot understand why some folks here are so upset about not having Hold Mode. As far as I can tell, most of the folks who have Hold Mode don't even use it very often. (Any 2013 owners are welcome to chime in.)

I use Mountain Mode on occasion, to preserve some EV range on extended trips, and it serves me just fine. Certainly I don't worry about using some extra juice to heat the cabin. What IS the big deal???

Or is it just the principle of it all? In which case I happen to agree with GM. The benefits simply do not justify the costs and the risks.
 

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BS. Hold mode is NO DIFFERENT than what I can do today in my MY 2012 Volt using Mountain Mode if its engaged with ~35% SOC (or whatever that number is). Here's where it is different - if I engage MM with <35% SOC (again, enter the same number as above), MM will charge the battery pack while Hold mode won't. Sound like MM is the dangerous, range reducing option that effects the EPA ratings.
Are you saying that what I said is BS? Or that is was BS for the EPA to disallow GM from implementing Hold back in 2011? If you think what I said is BS, it's not. This was well publicized back in 2011. Here is just one of the sources, an article in Green Car Reports where Tony Posawatz, then Volt line director, makes it clear that the EPA & CARB blocked Hold Mode from the US.

2011 Chevy Volt “Hold Charge” Mode for European ZEV Zones, But Not U.S.

Now if you think it was BS for the EPA & CARB to do this, I agree with you. But that's a different discussion, the fact remains that Hold Mode does have regulatory implications which did affect US implementation. That is the point I was making, not that it was right or wrong of them to do this. So again, let's not assume GM is just making excuses.

In either case, that hurdle has been cleared, so what other barriers, besides GM, is in the way?
Cost, obviously. Why should GM do this? It wouldn't be free. It might make you happy, but what's in it for GM? Will you honestly never buy another GM vehicle if they don't? Try to remove your bias of being the benefactor and ask if it truly makes business sense for GM to do this. Do we even have the data to make this assessment accurately here?

Believe it or not, I'm actually not arguing that GM should NOT do this. I'm just saying we can't say they SHOULD do this solely because we want them to. It requires more than that to make a sound decision.

Contrast this feature with MyLink, which seems to actually require different hardware.

I'm not intending to attack Pete, just his company and the nameless, faceless people there that can't see an opportunity. I don't know all of the decisions that go into saying no, but saying no is the easiest thing for a bureaucrat to do. Saying yes means taking a risk, and risks have downsides. ("3 things can happen when you pass the ball, and two of them are bad." -- Woody Hayes; note the current state of passing in college football. Things often change when someone takes a risk...)
Yes taking risks is good when there is a clear opportunity to gain. Without seeing it quantified I'm not sure we can clearly state there is an opportunity to be had here. If you didn't own any GM vehicle, but held GM stock could you definitely say without hesitation right now that GM should definitely invest in offering SW updates to existing customers? Or would you want to see some data first that shows WHY they should do this and puts an actual price tag on the potential value? It's Risks vs. Rewards, not just taking risks for the sake of it.
 

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Are you saying that what I said is BS? Or that is was BS for the EPA to disallow GM from implementing Hold back in 2011? If you think what I said is BS, it's not. This was well publicized back in 2011. Here is just one of the sources, an article in Green Car Reports where Tony Posawatz, then Volt line director, makes it clear that the EPA & CARB blocked Hold Mode from the US.

2011 Chevy Volt “Hold Charge” Mode for European ZEV Zones, But Not U.S.

Now if you think it was BS for the EPA & CARB to do this, I agree with you. But that's a different discussion, the fact remains that Hold Mode does have regulatory implications which did affect US implementation. That is the point I was making, not that it was right or wrong of them to do this. So again, let's not assume GM is just making excuses.
If adding Hold Mode to 2011/2012 Volts caused this reaction from the EPA, I can imagine that GM would run the opposite direction as fast as they could:

http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/labelchange.htm
 
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