In one more sign that plug-in cars and information networks are merging, General Motors yesterday unveiled a downloadable application that will let Chevy Volt drivers use a Blackberry, iPhone or Motorola Droid to remotely control and monitor vehicle charging and other functions. GM demonstrated the mobile application at the glitzy International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The driver will be able to use the phone for various functions, including:
- Scheduling or initiating charging, and displaying charge status and level
- Getting status reports, such as how much electric driving range is available
- Warming up or cooling the vehicle before getting in
- Sending text messages to remind drivers to plug in their vehicles
- Showing miles per gallon, EV miles and miles driven for last trip and lifetime
Volt drivers can also view and manage vehicle systems and commands from the vehicle, the Internet or through a monthly OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics e-mail.
Traditional OnStar features such as door lock, unlock and remote horn and lights—typically accessible only through a call to an OnStar center—will be available via the application. The Volt smartphone app communicates with the OnStar servers, which are the intermediary between the app and the vehicle.
Similar smart phone applications, and remote charging controls, are expected from Nissan for its all-electric Nissan Leaf, and from Toyota for the plug-in version of the Toyota Prius. In August 2009, Ford introducted of an “intelligent” system for drivers to manage charging of its planned electric and plug-in hybrid cars. That system is being installed in 20 Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid demo vehicles.
The Chevy Volt demo app for Apple iPhone is available on the iTunes store. Demo versions of the Motorola and Droid application are available at OnStarMobileDemo.com.
The Volt is a plug-in hybrid, designed to drive up to 40 miles on electricity without using gasoline. When the Volt’s lithium ion battery is depleted, an on-board engine keeps the batteries at an adequate charge level, allowing an additional 260 miles or so. Initial sales of the Chevy Volt, scheduled for production in late 2010, will be limited to California.