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I drive a 2018 Volt and we just replaced my wife's Avalon hybrid with a Tesla Model X. I thought I would share my initial impressions in comparison with the Volt. In particular, the things GM got right.

  • Apple CarPlay: Tesla doesn't have it. That's a real shame, CarPlay isn't perfect but I miss it.
  • Media Player: The built-in media player on the Volt appears to be better. The Volt shows me how much time remains on the song, and you can drag the slider to fast forward or backward. I don't see that functionality on the Tesla.
  • Auto High-Beam: Both cars have automatic high-beams, but they implement it differently. On the Tesla you turn on the high beams manually and they go low automatically. Kind of the reverse of what I'm used to on the Volt.
  • Auto headlights: The Volt seems much better at this. The Tesla seems to cut the lights on and off as you drive through shady stretches of road. The Volt waits a lot more before cutting on.
  • Lane Keeping: The Tesla has some indications on the dash, but nothing like the way the Volt nudges you back into your lane. I did not buy AutoPilot for the Tesla, perhaps they have it there.
  • Wi-fi hotspot: The Tesla has it's own internet connection, but it cannot be made into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Not that I'll pay GM for it on my Volt!
  • Keyfob, phone app: The Tesla and Volt phone apps are comparable, but the Tesla connection to the car is faster and more reliable.
There are some glaring Volt deficiencies that I wish they'd attend to. These would be relatively easy fixes but we'll never see them.

1) On the Tesla, if no buttons are pressed while the Navigation is selected, in a few seconds all the other items on the screen hide and full space is devoted to the map. If only the Volt did that! It would make such a difference on that 8" display.

2) Over the air updates. How hard can that be to do? When I read about the features on the newer Volts there are some that could be easy updates to my older Volt I bet, but GM just wants to sell me a 2019 model apparently. When I read about new Tesla features, I can expect them to show up on my car at some point.

Of course the Tesla has lots of other features that the Volt lacks, but it costs twice as much so that's not a fair comparison. What I've listed seem to be design decisions.
 

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My 2018 Volt hides the buttons after a few seconds so the full screen is available for the map. Maybe a setting to turn autohide on?
 

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The problem with OTA is it can be hacked (show me a system that hasn't been hacked and I'll show you a system where no one has tried hard enough). The CBC news had a segment where a Chrysler was hacked, the guy on the laptop took control of the gas and braking and the driver could do nothing about it. Multiply that times ten on a more automated system and....well no thanks. Disaster waiting to happen.
 

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The problem with OTA is it can be hacked (show me a system that hasn't been hacked and I'll show you a system where no one has tried hard enough). The CBC news had a segment where a Chrysler was hacked, the guy on the laptop took control of the gas and braking and the driver could do nothing about it. Multiply that times ten on a more automated system and....well no thanks. Disaster waiting to happen.
Keep in mind that auto updating and hacking do not go hand in hand. Even without OnStar service (I cancelled it last week) my Volt continues to keep in touch with GM. Anyone know how I can disable the radio for this?
 

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My 2018 Volt hides the buttons after a few seconds so the full screen is available for the map. Maybe a setting to turn autohide on?
My 2017 Volt cannot hide, manually or automatically, the buttons for HVAC, fan, FF, Rew, volume, seat heater... And I like it that way, because even if the screen goes blank from one reason or another, I can still set my comfort levels while listening to music... :)
 

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I know it is more of a hassle to go to the dealer, but I would rather not have OTA updates. OTA reminds me of Windows updates in the newer versions of Windows that give you little control over them and then an auto update breaks things. I'd much rather have the control of going to the dealer, having the dealer install the update, and the dealer - hopefully - testing it. I know for Tesla OTA are necessary due to the lack of a dealer network.
 

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How about these other features?

You can have Amazon deliver your packages to the trunk of your Volt.
You can order food advertised by GM along the route through the Volt's integration with the phone app, so that your food is ready and warm when you arrive.
The live traffic messages and warning is integrated with the Volt through OnStar.
 

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I know it is more of a hassle to go to the dealer, but I would rather not have OTA updates. OTA reminds me of Windows updates in the newer versions of Windows that give you little control over them and then an auto update breaks things. I'd much rather have the control of going to the dealer, having the dealer install the update, and the dealer - hopefully - testing it. I know for Tesla OTA are necessary due to the lack of a dealer network.
How much of testing is the dealer supposed to do and are they really doing the testing religiously after every walk-in software updates? Or simply they update the software, starts the car, check if there is any warnings, etc., and drive to the lot to park it off and call it done.

If dealers are not doing much of the testing, OTA updates and walk-in updates are essentially identical, except that OTA saves you time.
 

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How much of testing is the dealer supposed to do and are they really doing the testing religiously after every walk-in software updates? Or simply they update the software, starts the car, check if there is any warnings, etc., and drive to the lot to park it off and call it done.

If dealers are not doing much of the testing, OTA updates and walk-in updates are essentially identical, except that OTA saves you time.
That's true, so I guess the best thing would be an on/off enable for auto updates. I'll take the OTA when I am in the local area, when I am ready for it. I'm not sure if Tesla has this functionality, but if they do then OTA is certainly the way to go.
 

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My experience with Volt vehicle software updates affecting vehicle operation for my 2017 Volt is that the Chevrolet dealer's Volt technician downloads the update from a secure GM server via a VPN connection or a corporate intranet connection (not the public internet.) The update may be then be installed in the vehicle via USB. The service technician can verify whether the update was successful.
 

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Depending on how long something takes to download and install, you don't want to be sitting somewhere waiting for your car to finish a sw update before you can get in and go.
 

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Depending on how long something takes to download and install, you don't want to be sitting somewhere waiting for your car to finish a sw update before you can get in and go.
Hopefully the software is downloaded to the vehicle, a checksum is performed on the download and, if it passes, the update is applied. Much like what is done with mobile devices.
 

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That's true, so I guess the best thing would be an on/off enable for auto updates. I'll take the OTA when I am in the local area, when I am ready for it. I'm not sure if Tesla has this functionality, but if they do then OTA is certainly the way to go.
Hopefully the software is downloaded to the vehicle, a checksum is performed on the download and, if it passes, the update is applied. Much like what is done with mobile devices.
I created a thread on this process.
https://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?326261-Tesla-OTA-updates-basics
 

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The problem with OTA is it can be hacked (show me a system that hasn't been hacked and I'll show you a system where no one has tried hard enough). The CBC news had a segment where a Chrysler was hacked, the guy on the laptop took control of the gas and braking and the driver could do nothing about it. Multiply that times ten on a more automated system and....well no thanks. Disaster waiting to happen.
Yup. Any system ever designed will have some weakness that someone will eventually find. But that's actually an argument for OTA, not against it...

The exploit you mention was on most FCA cars, and although they created a firmware update to fix it, that required a dealer visit - a year later, only 25% of the fleet was updated if I remember the article right, so most cars were still vulnerable.

About the same time, Tesla had a vulnerability identified. They analyzed it, developed a fix - and pushed it to the entire fleet in 48 hours by OTA update. The only people who weren't covered by the end of the week are the couple stubborn holdouts who are refusing to update off of firmware 7.0 because the idea of holding the steering wheel under Autopilot annoys them.

(In fairness, I'm stubbornly holding on to 2018.14.2 because they haven't offered any new features to me in more recent firmware that justify putting up with the more frequent prompts. Firmware 9 should show up one of these days...)

Unless you're going to give up all of the benefits of having a connected car, you're vulnerable. Better to be able to patch immediately.
 

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Keep in mind that auto updating and hacking do not go hand in hand. Even without OnStar service (I cancelled it last week) my Volt continues to keep in touch with GM. Anyone know how I can disable the radio for this?
I believe that there is a module that is used to communicate with OnStar. I don't know whether or not pulling this module will cause the car system to raise a flag and prevent further use of the car (there may be an additional function associated with that module).
 

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As an owner of both a Tesla and a Volt, you are totally missing the point of Tesla OTA updates. GM updates are infrequent and fix issues. Tesla updates their cars about 2x/month with bug fixes and new features/functions. You would have to visit the dealer almost every other week. In the last year there has been a whole new nav system, map updates, auto sensing wipers, vast improvements in Autopilot, a new faster web browser, a pin to unlock the car, a pin to limit acceleration and top speed..... With your Volt you are stuck with the features when you purchased the car. With a Tesla, your car is updated constantly keeping it current with the newest versions other than hardware changes. Updates are scheduled and you pick a time when the car is down. They are not forced on you. A Tesla is more analogous to an iPhone than a car. You would not go to the Apple store every time they released an update. In terms of hacking, Tesla, Apple and Google/Android have been pushing updates for years with no problems. When I brought my Volt in for a camera issue and GM updated the software, it took them a week to make everything work.
 

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OTA updates is something Tesla got right. People want the ability for their car to have new features, treating it more like a mobile device. Other car manufacturers prefer that you have to buy a new car to get new features. I guess for what you pay for a Tesla, it's a finge benefit of the premium price: pay more for an "upgradeable" car.

Mike
 
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