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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Chevy Volt is proof positive that Americans are once again leading the automotive industry. Buying a new 2013 Volt hardly qualified me as a first-adopter, but I'm proud to have purchased a car I (still) genuinely admire when doubts--and prices--were much higher. That said, my high-tech, high-cost investment has me wondering whether GM's strategy is to encourage buyers to trade up with the same frequency as cell phones and similar low-cost gadgets, rather than keeping our cars current. Please read on if you share my concern.

On September 14, 2015, I snail-mailed the following letter:

Chevrolet Customer Assistance Center
P.O. Box 33170
Detroit, MI 48232-5170

Subject: 2013 Volt (VIN: XXX)

Dear Sir or Madam:
I love my fully loaded 2013 Chevy Volt. After two years and about 13,000 miles (while burning just 30 gallons of gas), I tell everyone it’s the best car I’ve ever owned—that American carmakers are back at the top of the industry. My Volt definitely turns heads at Seattle City Hall.
Three issues mar this otherwise sophisticated, high-tech automobile, however—all involving, ironically, the electronic Infotainment Center. I write in the hope that Chevrolet either has or is working on technical fixes, updates or upgrades that will keep my Volt at the cutting edge of technology, and demonstrate your commitment to customers after initial sale. Modern cars require a much larger capital investment than a smartphone, and I expect to keep my Volt through many iterations of phones. My dealership is unable to address these issues directly, and information available in the Chevy Volt User Forum is unclear and conflicting.
First, the Volt surprisingly has no ability to play back High Definition (HD) Radio. As you must know, superior HD Radio broadcasts are available over the air for free; the Seattle-Tacoma area alone, for instance, has at least 63 stations that broadcast in HD Radio. (See hdradio.com.) A paid subscription to SiriusXM Radio does not provide the same HD Radio programming, and in any event should not be a prerequisite to free over-the-air HD Radio broadcasts. And any such contractual arrangement between GM and SiriusXM would certainly not reflect consideration of your customers’ best interests. It might even be of questionable legality.
Second, apparently only the 2013 Model Year Volt lacks a backup camera system that includes convenient guidelines to assist with parallel parking. Just the bare camera, moreover, is roundly criticized by current owners as inferior to other Chevy vehicles. And when I purchased my 2013 Volt, I had already experienced the guideline systems included on acquaintances’ 2011 and 2012 Volts, as well as during test drives of other GM models. Although my dealer assumed when test driving my ’13 Volt that the guidelines simply required tweaks to the display settings, it now appears that GM and Panasonic were unable to agree to licensing terms for the ’13 Volt. Even relatively inexpensive aftermarket systems include better quality cameras with backup guidelines; the uniformly critical online commentary singles out this strikingly inferior facet of this otherwise extraordinary car. Can current owners at least buy better hardware and software from Chevrolet to correct this deficiency instead of resorting to third party aftermarket manufacturers?
Finally, consistent with the rapidly evolving technology of smart phones and computers, I sincerely hope and expect that Chevrolet will engineer and make available updates to accommodate emerging technologies on platforms as capital-intensive as modern automobiles such as the Volt. Recently, GM announced that 2016 models will interact with Android Auto and similar applications from Apple and Microsoft. It follows that owners of very recent year models should be able to incorporate smart phone systems through software upgrades. I’m willing to pay a reasonable fee for such upgrades, although leadership on Chevrolet’s part will be necessary to make certain that safe, certified software modifications are made available to your current owners.
Again, I am a loyal Chevrolet owner. Besides my ’13 Volt, I own a mint ’97 Silverado. In my 59 years, there have been many other fine Chevrolet products in my life. As the American automobile industry evolves with the latest technological advances, please remember to keep your loyal human customers at heart. Thank you for your consideration; I look forward to hearing from you soon.


To this letter, I received the following email reply:

From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2015 10:08 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Concerns with 2013 Volt technology 8-1592162375

Dear Peter Holmes,

I would like to thank you for contacting the Chevrolet Volt Team with your concerns with your 2013 Volt.


At this time General Motors and Chevrolet are working on upgrades with the Volts. Even though you have the 2013 model we still are working on different software updates for them. General Motors try to keep up with growing technology and try to pair the vehicles with the ever changing computer industry.


When we design the Volt, each model year we try to do something different to better assist the customer as well as make the vehicle affordable. With that being said General Motors decided to take the grid lines out of the 2013 and 2014. Also when we switch to a different company to supply us with the rear view camera in 2013 they did not have the patent to use the grid lines. But with such a huge amount of feedback from consumers like you they decided to add it back to the 2015 models. I understand how this may be frustrating to you. However at this time I do not know if they are working on a software upgrade for the 2013 and 2014 to add that function. I do apologize.


Your idea for the High Definition Radio is an idea that General Motors needs to hear about. I have not received much feedback on that type of radio system but that does not mean others have not voice their concerns.

I thank you on behalf of Chevrolet and General Motors for contacting us with your suggestions and ideas. Since you are a Volt owner you experience the pleasure of driving the vehicle and your feedback from your owning experience is greatly appreciated.

So to summarize your concerns we are working on upgrades to keep up with changing technology. We really appreciate the time that you took to speak your concerns and hope that we can continue to have your support as well as your suggestions and concerns.

If you have any other questions or concerns please feel free to contact me at the information provided below.

Thank you for being a Volt owner and have a wonderful day.

Sheila
Chevrolet Volt Advisor
866-754-8100
ext 5920872
[email protected]


Here's my reply (no response yet):


Thank you for your reply, Sheila, as disappointing as it was.

I delayed this response in order to see if some further word of updates/upgrades might emerge from Chevrolet, but so far the company hasn't even offered an update to my two-year old navigation system. You seem to imply that I should be grateful for some unspecified future software updates "[e]ven though have the 2013 model"; this is borderline insulting. Two years after purchasing a $46,000 automobile, I expected better customer care than I actually receive for my $300 cell phone. If GM plans to update its products to accommodate similar updates by Android, Apple and Microsoft, can you at least provide a guess as to when we might see some tangible evidence?

Your proffered explanation for the absence of backup guide lines (while wholly ignoring my concerns about the abysmal quality of the backup camera itself) is similarly inadequate. There are pages and pages of speculation on the Volt Owners Forum about GM's negotiations with Panasonic; your response appears to support the theory that the company simply made an economic decision to save money on its suppliers--at the expense of GM's own customers. The downgraded backup system should have been made known to purchasers at the time; you certainly shouldn't engage in revisionist history now. And you should certainly explore possible upgrades, even at customer expense.

Your response further seems to suggest that GM has never before heard of HD Radio. Other manufacturers are not only aware of this free, over-the-air technology, they are making certain their customers have choice: http://hdradio.com/get-a-radio/new-car/toyota. The real question is whether it was simply more financially advantageous to GM to strike a deal with SiriusXM that excluded free HD Radio technology to your own customers--perhaps with antitrust implications. While you probably will not make any such admissions in writing, please don't insult the intelligence of purchasers of such a technologically advanced automobile as the Volt by pretending to be unaware of HD Radio or the truly minimal hardware cost involved in making HD Radio reception available in GM cars.

I took great pains to write a traditional letter to Chevrolet with serious concerns about a car I want to believe reflects a renewed commitment on the part of the American automobile industry to be competitive, engaged, and responsive to consumers. Your email response, by contrast, apparently wasn't even proof-read. The company should know that I intend to post your reply in the Volt Owners Forum. Before I do that, however, I request that my inquiry be elevated for a more thorough, honest, and high-level response.

Thank you,
-Pete Holmes

Life is short. The new Volts look like Honda Civics to me, even though the tech specs are constantly improving. Do you think that Chevy is interested in reestablishing long term, loyal relationships, or will GM just rely on planned obsolescence to generate future sales?
 

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Do you think that Chevy is interested in reestablishing long term, loyal relationships, or will GM just rely on planned obsolescence to generate future sales?
Ummmm........ is there a third or fourth option?

System updates to infotainment. Novel idea. Can't say I've heard of one yet. Did I miss something?
 

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I would expect they might do NAV data updates for support. They have done that with other cars. Nothing that would take any hardware change at all.

Would be nice if they had a program to be able to trade in your battery for the newest one that comes out for more range. But never will happen.
 

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P.S. Sheila did read your letter. Not sure why you decided to go rogue on her, except that she pretty much told you the truth - no joy for you.

You get software updates if it's a safety thing. Even then it can be spotty on the rollout. Sometimes I have to go after GM for it (steering). I'm asked "Are you having trouble with it?". I don't answer that question - I just let them know that I know they have it and I want the update.

"So to summarize your concerns" I'm afraid you may be setting your expectations too high. Fair warning.....

P.S.S. You can get the backup lines. You need to buy a 2015 center stack display, and have your service tech install it and update the software.
 

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I have mixed feelings about this.....for all it's worth though OP....I have a 2012 and don't have the guide lines either......I have to agree with the OP on some things though.....GM should be watching TESLA and learning from them the proper way to handle software updates......The Volt and pretty much any EREV/EV is basically a rolling computer......If GM was really after customer satisfaction (post-initial purchase) then they would be going out of their way to make the customer happy....instead they are driven by greed.....I remember when the Volt display began to show the regen/kilowatt hour usage as a selectable display (where the mileage and tire pressure display etc shows up)....and I was thinking...cool this will likely be uploaded in a future software update....but nope....that never happened.....now that is BS......but...as I have already eluded to....TESLA knows what they are doing....heck....you don't even go to the dealer....it downloads it overnight in your garage while you are sleeping and you wake up to a new redesigned graphics interface......I don't think the OP is ranting....I think he is correct to assume that GM should have stepped up to the plate and rewarded their Volt customers for having faith in their product at a time when they needed it......as far as the letter from the Volt team....it flows exactly like I thought it would.....un-informative and basically saying tough.....you want those things....upgrade....$$$$$

Edit: To reiterate a point made by others in the thread.... In the end we have to act as adults here....and to the OP.... While I do wish that we did get the software updates that the newer model 1st gens got... It wasn't an expectation that it would happen and it became apparent that it wouldn't as well.... In the end... The OP should have left it as that and to reply with a letter that was not too nice was really uncalled for.... That is a person with feelings after all.... Like others have said.... If you REALLY want the upgraded features.... Then perhaps it is time to trade.... I would not hold my breath hoping GM would have a sudden change of heart....
 

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Your thread title needs correcting as you made no "investment".
A car, especially one with new technology, is a rapidly depreciating asset.
Thinking of a car as an "investment" will lead to disappointment.

Your response to Sheila was uncalled for.
Her response was very kind even if it told you a truth you didn't want to hear.

Updates for previously bought cars, historically, didn't happen. That is starting to change, and currently the exception rather than the norm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You know, Mister Dave, you and I are "customers." We paid a lot of $$ for our Volts. The fact that your '14 Volt has many of the upgrades that should easily be made available on my '13 Volt--even at a price--might explain why you consider my polite but direct concern for customer rights "going rogue." I'm pretty sure that Sheila, and GM, can take it. Unless you're a very wealthy individual who changes cars like a year-old cell phone, I hope you feel the same way when your '14 Volt fails to keep up with current technology. (You have heard of HD Radio, right?) Perhaps Sheila/GM will finally respond in time to help us both.
 

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No.

GM will only update the software if it smells a GM liability issue, after which they will add additional horn honking, beeps and warning messages on the center console display. These will be mandatory installed, without your knowledge, when you cross paths with GM service point.
 

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might explain why you consider my polite but direct concern for customer rights "going rogue."
"Your proffered explanation for the absence of backup guide lines (while wholly ignoring my concerns about the abysmal quality of the backup camera itself) is similarly inadequate."
"Your email response, by contrast, apparently wasn't even proof-read."

We may have different ideas about "polite" diplomacy.

I'm pretty sure that Sheila, and GM, can take it.
I'm pretty sure she "takes it" every day. Katie O. was pretty popular around here, but I don't think anyone keeps that job for long just for this reason.

Unless you're a very wealthy individual who changes cars like a year-old cell phone, I hope you feel the same way when your '14 Volt fails to keep up with current technology.
My '14 fails at nothing. I like it just fine for what it is, and if I want backup lines I know how to get them.

Do you think they have software engineers sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for requests?
 

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You know, Mister Dave, you and I are "customers." We paid a lot of $$ for our Volts. The fact that your '14 Volt has many of the upgrades that should easily be made available on my '13 Volt--even at a price--might explain why you consider my polite but direct concern for customer rights "going rogue." I'm pretty sure that Sheila, and GM, can take it. Unless you're a very wealthy individual who changes cars like a year-old cell phone, I hope you feel the same way when your '14 Volt fails to keep up with current technology. (You have heard of HD Radio, right?) Perhaps Sheila/GM will finally respond in time to help us both.
I didn't pay a lot for my new volt. I got mine heavily discounted and although I'd happily take a software update to get more features, I fully realize GM isn't Apple. This just plain isn't going to happen. Snowballs chance...pigs flying...Ellen going straight...Richard Simmons becoming normal...Cubs winning the World Series...not gonna happen.
 

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You know, Mister Dave, you and I are "customers." We paid a lot of $$ for our Volts. The fact that your '14 Volt has many of the upgrades that should easily be made available on my '13 Volt--even at a price--might explain why you consider my polite but direct concern for customer rights "going rogue." I'm pretty sure that Sheila, and GM, can take it. Unless you're a very wealthy individual who changes cars like a year-old cell phone, I hope you feel the same way when your '14 Volt fails to keep up with current technology. (You have heard of HD Radio, right?) Perhaps Sheila/GM will finally respond in time to help us both.
Did you or did you NOT receive an automobile for your purchase price...did anyone at the dealership hint that there would be updates to your vehicle...if not...then the contract is complete
The existence of a contract requires finding the following factual elements:
a) an offer;
b) an acceptance of that offer which results in a meeting of the minds;
c) a promise to perform;
d) a valuable consideration (which can be a promise or payment in some form);
e) a time or event when performance must be made (meet commitments);
f) terms and conditions for performance, including fulfilling promises, if any;
g) performance.

By the way...THIS is an investment in an automobile
 

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Tesla may have set new expectations with their new business and sales model, but GM offered me no such promise of update or non obsolescence. I expect my wife's 2015 C-Max to be obsolete even quicker than Volt. But that doesn't mean it's failing to do the task it was bought for. Updates are over-rated.
 

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Well they cold at least update the fugly graphics to at least look like the current mylink in all their cars.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Your Volt is not a Tesla. I believe Teslaa started the upgrade thing in earnest, but nothing is free and the upgrades along with the flatbed service are surely in the price of the product. I believe also, that Volt has been relatively trouble-fee and Tesla has not, but their service keeps owners happy anyway.
 

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New business models are about earning customers for life through building relationships. Old business models are about closing the sale to increase this quarter's numbers. GM got your sale - transition over. When a new a business model company enters the marketplace, like Tesla, they will mop up the competition. Until then (said in my best Soup Nazi voice)... NEXT!

Good on you for trying. If we all keep expressing our desires, one day GM may finally listen. It was worth the effort eve if the outcome was already predetermined.
 

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It's one thing that in a forum people are fast and loose with the English language and I accept that. But, I don't think that it is acceptable when that happens in a letter from an organization such as GM. As I read the letter from GM, I began to think that the writer had gotten a B+ in her ESL course.

I think that what the OP is expecting from GM is not gonna happen. Yes, it would be nice for "improvements" to be applied to previous years' models, but other that Tesla, I can't think of another company that makes improvements retroactive (applied) to older models (other than safety improvements). You like the new goodies, you go out and buy the new product.

Off Topic: I just read a NYT article about debt collection agencies assuming that binding arbitration clauses in third party contracts can be enforced by them.... and the courts are going along with that. What is this world coming to when a contract between two parties suddenly becomes a contract that binds one to the world in general? This stinks to high heaven!
 

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From reading that original post, what is REALLY wrong with modern cars:

Offer them without radios like they used to. That way they can choose whatever sound system / NAV they most enjoy.

So many people over so many brands and models are disappointed with the radios today, that it no longer makes sense to have the radio as standard equipment.
 

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You can update your car now. It's even better than the Tesla updates in that you get a brand new car and have still spent less than on the Tesla. :)
 
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