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2011 Chevrolet Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery


Ever wonder what the result would be if a Chevrolet Volt was left "running" for hours on end? Well, it just so happens that the folks over at the duPont Registry accidentally left their Volt "on" overnight. The result? A sudden blast of air from the vehicle's climate control system when the passenger door was swung open.

Since the Volt is nearly silent when it's running on battery power, it can be difficult to audibly detect that the vehicle is on. The folks over the duPont Registry guess that the Volt's lights kicked on sometime after sunset and stayed lit for the night. Additionally, the plug-in's climate control system blasted out air, keeping the unoccupied cabin quite cool until the door was opened by a duPont Registry staffer.

What effect did this have on the Volt's battery? Well, when the duPont Registry team parked the Volt, eight miles of battery-only range and 250 miles of extended range remained. Upon returning nearly 24 hours later, the car's battery was depleted, but 150 miles of extended range still remained, indicating that the Volt's gasoline engine must have cycled on and off throughout the night.

Here's something else to ponder: Florida statute 316.1975 reads:

A person driving or in charge of any motor vehicle may not permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key.

But, as the folks over at duPont point out:

The [Volt's] engine was not on (when we left it) and there was no ignition to lock or key to remove.

So, did they actually violate Florida's law?


  • Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman
  • Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman
  • The Chevrolet Volt "Freedom Drive" across the country concludes at Pier 92 during the annual Macy's Independence Day fireworks display over the Hudson River in New York, Sunday, July 4, 2010. The "Freedom Drive" began four days and 1.776 miles ago in Austin, Texas where Chevrolet announced New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Texas would join Michigan, California and Washington, D.C. as launch sites for the Volt later this year. (Photo by Emile Wamsteker for Chevrolet)
  • The Chevrolet Volt "Freedom Drive" across the country concludes at Pier 92 during the annual Macy's Independence Day fireworks display over the Hudson River in New York, Sunday, July 4, 2010. The "Freedom Drive" began four days and 1.776 miles ago in Austin, Texas where Chevrolet announced New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Texas would join Michigan, California and Washington, D.C. as launch sites for the Volt later this year. (Photo by Emile Wamsteker for Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet announces Thursday, July 1, 2010 it is adding Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to the launch markets for the Volt electric vehicle. The retail launch in Texas and New York will begin with Austin and New York City in late 2010. The balance of Texas and New York, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut, are scheduled to begin receiving Volts in early 2011. The Chevrolet Volt (pictured here) in front of the Texas State Capital in Austiin, Texas Wednesday, June 30, 2010. (Photo by Steven Noreyko for Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet announces Thursday, July 1, 2010 it is adding Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to the launch markets for the Volt electric vehicle. The retail launch in Texas and New York will begin with Austin and New York City in late 2010. The balance of Texas and New York, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut, are scheduled to begin receiving Volts in early 2011. The Chevrolet Volt (pictured here) in front of the Texas State Capital in Austiin, Texas Wednesday, June 30, 2010. (Photo by Steven Noreyko for Chevrolet)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt passes a trolley while navigating the steep climbs of the San Francisco Bay area while on an engineering development drive Saturday, April 25, 2010 in San Francisco, California The Volt will be available in California during the last quarter of 2010. (Photo by Martin Klimek for Chevrolet)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt drives near the Golden Gate Bridge while on an engineering development drive in San Francisco, California Saturday, April 25, 2010. The Volt will be available in California during the last quarter of 2010. (Photo by Martin Klimek for Chevrolet)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt navigates the steep climbs of the San Francisco Bay area while on an engineering development drive Saturday, April 25, 2010 in San Francisco, California The Volt will be available in California during the last quarter of 2010. (Photo by Martin Klimek for Chevrolet)
  • The new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range on display at Columbia University on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2010 in New York, NY. (Photo by Todd Plitt for Chevrolet)
  • The new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range drives through campus at Columbia University on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2010 in New York, NY. (Photo by Todd Plitt for Chevrolet)
  • The new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range drives through campus at Columbia University on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2010 in New York, NY. (Photo by Todd Plitt for Chevrolet)
  • The Chevrolet Volt �Freedom Drive� across the country continues in Fairfax, Virginia Saturday, July 3, 2010 as the Volt participates in the annual Independence Day Parade. The Volt, an electric vehicle with extended range. will finish its four-day, 1,776 mile route in New York City on Sunday. (Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for Chevrolet)
  • The Chevrolet Volt �Freedom Drive� across the country continues in Fairfax, Virginia Saturday, July 3, 2010 as the Volt participates in the annual Independence Day Parade. The Volt, an electric vehicle with extended range. will finish its four-day, 1,776 mile route in New York City on Sunday. (Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for Chevrolet)
  • The Chevrolet Volt �Freedom Drive� across the country continues in Fairfax, Virginia Saturday, July 3, 2010 as the Volt participates in the annual Independence Day Parade. The Volt, an electric vehicle with extended range. will finish its four-day, 1,776 mile route in New York City on Sunday. (Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for Chevrolet)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range travels around Pier 92 during a media test drive in New York, NY on Monday, March 29, 2010. (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet) (3/29/2010)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range travels around Pier 92 during a media test drive in New York, NY on Monday, March 29, 2010. (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet) (3/29/2010)
  • The first pre-production Chevrolet Volt rolls off the line at the Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing plant Wednesday, March 31, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The pre-production versions of the Volt will not be sold at dealerships, but will be used to assure all steps in the production system will meet the quality targets set by the Volt engineering team. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet) (04/01/2010)
  • A Chevrolet Volt battery at the General Motors Global Battery Systems Lab in Warren, Michigan Wednesday, June 30, 2010. The Chevrolet Volt will offer customers an unprecedented standard 8 year/100,000 mile warranty on its lithium-ion battery. GM engineers have completed more than 1 million miles and 4 million hours of validation battery testing since 2007. Each Volt battery pack has nine modules and 288 cells. GM designed and engineered 99 percent of the 155 components in each battery. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet)


[Source: duPont Registry]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 41 Comments
      • 6 Months Ago
      My wife rented a Prius and had the same thing happen.

      Having found a friend dead of carbon monoxide poisoning (from a car, but not due to a keyless system), I take CO very seriously.

      Cars that are so poorly designed so that the user is not certain whether the car is "on" or "off" will certainly lead to unnecessary deaths.

      Keyless systems are trendy, but have not yet been developed to be foolproof. The solution could be a simple as replacing the single start button with too buttons: Green to turn car "on," and Red to turn car "off."

      Google the phrase: carbon monoxide death keyless
      to see other incidents of this.
        • 6 Months Ago
        Paul Allen is 1000000% right on this. If you fail to design your interface to be foolproof, to the point where users can't tell if it's on or off, then you have a problem.

        A human factors specialist should have found this error and adressed it before the Volt was made available to the masses. If this car had been parked in a closed garage, people in the house could have perished.
        • 6 Months Ago
        Well, Dan, the problem is that the user interface for some cars is increasing in complexity in multiple ways at the same time, and these new cars behave in new and unintuitive ways for anyone used to the old system.

        In the old days, when a car was running, it was very obvious. And to leave the car, you had to turn off the key, you immediately had audio feedback that the engine stopped, and then you left the car with the key. This system was virtually foolproof, making it almost impossible to accidentally leave the car running.

        Now not only do some cars have keyless ignition, but they also have modes where the car is "on," but the standard cues for the car being "on" are not always present. For example, in a Prius, when the car is parked and "on," sometimes the gas engine is running, and sometimes it is not, based on the state of the battery, the outside temperature, the settings on the car's HVAC system, etc. So it's not at all impossible to leave the car, thinking it is "off," when in fact it is still "on." (Note that another commenter and Prius owner said that he had "done this once." Once might be all it takes.)

        Certainly there are beeps and lights to "warn" the user of this mistake, however these can easily blend in with other warnings (lights on, door ajar, etc.) that users are used to hearing, and used to ignoring.

        A new 16 year old driver with a new Prius would quickly learn this new system and find it "natural," and would never make a mistake. But an experienced driver, with habits established over years or decades, doesn't "think" about turning his car on or off, he just does it. And these new systems are designed such that habits developed with conventional cars can create dangerous situations with these new cars and their poorly designed keyless systems.

        An analogy is that in the early days of automatic transmissions, there was no standard for the relative position of the gears. For example, one car might have reverse to the far left, while another maker had reverse in the center, with drive to the far left. In each case, there was clear marking of the gear choices on the dash or console, however people kept crashing and damaging their cars due to the inconsistency. Were they stupid? Could they not read the letters? No. They behaved like normal people. Finally, P-R-N-D-L was mandated and the problem went away.

        The user interface of existing "state of the art" of keyless ignition systems is inexcusably poorly thought out and clearly more dangerous that the previous low-tech system.
        • 6 Months Ago
        As my late friend discovered, a tiny amount of CO goes a long way, since it turns out that due to a design defect in human biology, our blood prefers it to oxygen.

        Key-based ignition systems have a zero percent chance of the user accidentally leaving the car in a state where the engine can automatically restart itself.

        The current keyless systems on hybrids have a greater-than-zero percent chance of the user accidentally leaving the car in a state where the engine can automatically, without direction from the user, restart itself.

        And then, in certain circumstances, such as an attached garage, this unintentional engine running can and will cause more than zero fatalities.

        I am confident that more than one law firm will make tens or hundreds of millions of dollars by simply and easily proving this clear fact.
        • 6 Months Ago
        re:"The user interface of existing "state of the art" of keyless ignition systems is inexcusably poorly thought out "
        Absolutely wrong. Not complicated at all.
        The only time I've found it difficult to get used to is NOT having it. I keep trying to enter my other vehicle just by grabbing the handle. I drove for 15+yrs without that being an option.

        I did mention no engine sound... And I also said it still doesnt matter...
        There are visual cues that let you know its on, plus possibly the radio, & FAN... WHICH THEY DID HAVE ON. Not to mention that you had just stopped driving somewhere...
        You turn off the car. They put in Park... therefore they knew they stopped

        It's not complicated. We've been turning off cars for many decades.
        Im far from 16 (and my health isnt good so I'm always tired which gives you brain fog), and I had no trouble adjusting to the key fob/push button.

        Where I would kind of understand, is if this is the first week of having their first power button to push. Everybody should have a grace period. but to blame it on the car is stupid. The button on the Volt is smaller than the Prius but it is brightly lit and not behind the steering wheel like the Prius.
        • 6 Months Ago
        All of us (from the 1st comment on including me) are saying that PHEV's should not be allowed to idle into extended range mode with out the user present and acknowledging the fact its on.
        Every one above including me said that and mentioned ways to avoid that.

        re: "current keyless systems on hybrids have a greater-than-zero percent chance of the user accidentally leaving the car in a state where the engine can automatically, without direction from the user, restart itself. "

        No hybrid can automatically restart itself because of the key fobs.
        A hybrid (or PHEV) with an ICE can have the ICE recharge batteries if left on.
        But it has NOTHING to do with the key fobs/keyless entry.
        • 6 Months Ago
        Title should have read: "No news here... moron forgot to turn off car... then makes news..."
        I dont really mean moron... its just the point to be made.

        Its not that it isnt obvious that the car is on. There are lights and accessories.
        For 80 years everyone always heard a loud motor. With EV's its just the dash lights, headlights, radio, AC... what else?
        But really it isnt that big a deal. How hard is it to remember to turn off the car as we have always done. It's just doing it by pushing a button.
        It might have been their first time/ first week with power push buton?
        Really, "designing it" too much more for the lowest common denom. isnt necessarily the best way to go. Do we need a paddle to spring out of the car, smack us on the head to remind us to turn it off?

        Personally, I LOVE the keyless entry and push button start.
        I hate it when I have to drive another vehicle without it.
        I've had the Prius since 2004 and never had a hard time remembering to turn it off.
        Really never what another vehicle without... 1. A Plug 2. Regen. Brakes 3. Keyless Entry
        and other things...
        • 6 Months Ago
        Plus like was said above by "Shock Me"
        "So they not only left it on, they failed to plug-in a vehicle that depends on grid power for efficient operation."

        So they really werent with it that day.
      • 6 Months Ago
      As someone who has had two FOB only (keyless) vehicles and am not enamored with the idea:

      Just give us bloody keys so the whole situation can't happen without leaving the key in the car's ignition.

      Unfortunately the group think of the auto manufacturers have themselves thinking keyless = futuristic, in demand etc... but its just a solution to a problem few people care about and as exemplified here, causes problems that don't need to happen.

      GM obviously will need to update the software of the Volt to handle this possibility, can't have an unattended vehicle turning itself on whenever it wants in enclosed spaces because someone forgot to push a button (but walked away with their "electronic" key).
      • 6 Months Ago
      I absolutely CANNOT believe anyone can blame this on the manufacturer. What's next?? why not leave the glass down in a thunderstorm and complain it has a water leak...................G E T R E A L......Common sense goes a long way!!
      • 6 Months Ago
      So they not only left it on, they failed to plug-in a vehicle that depends on grid power for efficient operation.
        • 6 Months Ago
        How did it take that long for any of us to say that!
        Thank-you.
      • 6 Months Ago
      Sounds dangerous if the car was running unattended in an enclosed space, like a garage (carbon monoxide fumes).
        • 6 Months Ago
        "TR3CK"... I agree. Actually there are simple solutions to this and not as "end of the world" as some think it is.
        Your seat sensor idea is one of the best ways to solve this. But just because I get out of the car doesnt mean I want it to shut off either... say getting the mail or etc.
        So the best solution will probably combine the seat sensor, amount of time idling with pop up message, and definitely if there is no one in the seat and no response in regards to the message then it should not switch to extended range mode. However it should start immediately if asked to restart by us.
        • 6 Months Ago
        Yes, the seat sensor should be combined with a timer before disabling the ICE from starting. When timeout, the Volt would not turn "OFF" itself but the ICE just can't start to recharge the battery.

        But still, to me it's a incomplete solution for every situations. Like this situation: someone enter his Volt in an enclosed garage, put the selection lever on P but decide to stay sit in the driver seat for listening to music on the sound system with the HVAC on, then he (she) unwittingly falls asleep with the car still "ON" with the risk that eventually the ICE willl come on hours later to recharge the battery with this person still inside on the driver seat in a sleep too deep to notice the engine sound.

        To answer this, there should also be a timer (but this one longer) to disable the start of the ICE when the transmission lever is on "Park". Same also when it's on "Neutral" but only if the car is not moving. It would start with a low warning sound asking to press a bouton to reset the timer. And if there is still no action from the occupant, the start of the ICE is then disabled.
        • 6 Months Ago
        "Secondly, modern cars burn clean enough that CO emissions are not nearly as problematic as in years past. It's much more difficult to kill oneself by running a vehicle in a closed garage than ever before."

        UGH! Looks like it'll have to be another pill attempt.
        • 6 Months Ago
        TR3CK re: "When timeout, the Volt would not turn "OFF" itself but the ICE just can't start to recharge the battery."

        Yes, It would have to turn off in order for it now to recharge.
        After the battery charge is completely used, yet we dont want the ICE to start recharging...
        It must turn off... There is no middle ground there.
        • 6 Months Ago
        Talk about overreacting. The Volt's engine cycled on and off through the night, it wasn't running constantly. That alone virtually eliminates the possibility of CO poisoning. Especially since no garage I know of is airtight.

        Secondly, modern cars burn clean enough that CO emissions are not nearly as problematic as in years past. It's much more difficult to kill oneself by running a vehicle in a closed garage than ever before.

        This is virtually a non-issue.
        • 6 Months Ago
        How disturbing that GM did not have thought that this could happen. They make for sure a recall to fix this.... before a accident happen I hope so.

        Here is a possible fix that's simple. As any cars today, the Volt should have a in sensor in the front seats that indicate when occupants are sit on it for the purpose to warn them to buckle their seat belt when they do not buckle. These sensors could be also used for this: if no one is sitting in the front seats and the Volt is ON, the ICE won't start no matter how the battery are depleted. And maybe just a simple reprogramming of the Volt ECU at the dealer should make this possible.
      • 6 Months Ago
      This does bring up the interesting point that in many locales there is a clear distinction between 'stopping' and 'standing' and 'parking'.
      Often the prohibition of one does not preclude the other(s).
      Often too, the distinction can be whether or not the vehicle is running.

      So if I am sitting in a vehicle with stop/start tech - am I automatically 'standing' when I only meant to be 'stopping'?
      And can I possibly get a ticket for it.

      Magic eight ball says, 'yes'.
      • 6 Months Ago
      Don't normal people LOOK to see if the instrument cluster and dash displays are active before exiting the vehicle for the night?

      Just asking.
      • 6 Months Ago
      "Florida statue 316.1975 reads:"

      I didn't know statues could read.
        • 6 Months Ago
        Ahh, spell check. You betray us whenever you pan.
      • 6 Months Ago
      Right. There are no victims. Of anything.
      • 6 Months Ago
      My 08 Prius acts the same way. I've left it on all day while at work once in 4-ish years. No biggie, but I never considered it might be illegal.
      • 6 Months Ago
      I know my car is off because when I exit, I always arm the car alarm. Period...
      • 6 Months Ago
      How much fuel does it take to "cycle" a Volt most of the night? Losing 100 miles of range indicates about 2.5 gals of gas. Seems like a lot.
        • 6 Months Ago
        It wasnt just most of the night... It was 24 hours. Not to bad for that many hours and with the AC blasting.
        • 6 Months Ago
        Just because it lost half the range doesn't mean it burned half its fuel.

        Any car that predicts range will notice that it is not going anywhere while idling and will drop the predicted range disproportionate to the amount of fuel used. It's just part of the mpg calculation. If you go 0 miles on 0.3 gallons of fuel it is getting 0mpg and it starts to average that into its records and predict you won't go far on the next 3 gallons of fuel either.
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