GM Unveils Chevy Volt Smartphone Application

Chevy Volt Smart Phone App

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.


  • frank filters

    Nice Apps.

    This volt really seems like a great car. Cant wait until I can drive one.

    With my solar panels at home and its 40 mile range. I should be able to charge this car without using any gasoline and using any grid power.

    With the tax credit this car will be priced well too. I wonder what happens to the gasoline in the tank when I never will use any?? will it go stale?

  • Andrew Hime

    What about the Palm Pre, Chevy?

  • rajkumar

    Wow that is interesting. Good to hear GM is moving in the right direction with Volt and with this new Volt app.

    wait I don’t get this. Volt only for sale in California this year?..that’s bad news..so if one wanted volt they had to buy it from California..

    This app is cool because I have not heard anything like this. waiting to see what Nissan and Toyota are bringing!

  • Adrian

    wonderful app. Nice to hear and see GM is moving in the right direction.

    Volt is only for sale in California in 2010? that’s bad…

    When is Toyota and Nissan bringing similar apps?

    Does Honda have a similar app?

    Great car. Hope it turns GM’s fortune!

  • Mr.Bear

    Back calculating the numbers they have shown on the demo app, they are projecting that 1 gallon of gas will extend the car’s range 240 miles. I’ll have to see that in action before I believe it. But if it is true, I’ll have to take a lot of what I said back.

    As far as the app goes, my only concern would be if OnStar is a paid subscription. It seems like the app should be able to BlueTooth with the car’s computer for many of the functions and that could be done for free.

  • Mr. Green

    I wish this vehicle could save a company, but I feel like this vehicle will be (or really is) overhyped. An app is completed before the car is on the market? Is an app the best thing to put resources into? Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought I read that there will be 200 available or so. Will that have any real impact on the company? It’s also troubling to me that there are FCX Claritys on the road already. Granted there are major issues with using hydrogen as fuel, but I would put that technology as way more advanced and difficult to implement-and it’s been out for a few years already. My point is that GM needs to stop the hype machine and actually put out a car on the road. They will be setting themselves up for failure by putting the Volt on a pedestal. Those app numbers for mpg, etc. are also quite promising, but I’d like to hope those aren’t dream numbers.

    I hope that GM will be able to erase my cynicsm when this vehicle arrives.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    This is awesome. As an EV driver with a car that doesn’t have cellphone monitoring, I definitely appreciate it. Last weekend, I was charging at an RV park while driving from San Francisco to LA. I expected to spend about 4 hours charging since only slow (multi-hour) charging is available today. We went out for a 2 hour hike and got back, only to find that the breaker had blown while we were out and charging had stopped. This device could have informed us of the problem or we could at least have checked the charging status.
    Likewise, since charging an EV does take time, at least until fast charging infrastructure is in place, it’s a hassle, unless you’re doing something else while it is charging. Being able to check the state of charge allows you to easily do something else without having to babysit your EV. Remember that charging times vary with temperature as well so on road trips (something EVs really aren’t well suited for today- the Volt will likely be the first exception to this), it is nice to know when your car is charged without having to walk over to it to read the dashboard display.
    @Mr. Bear: Bluetooth is a short range connection of only a few feet. All good, modern EVs have displays that provide all of this kind information on the dashboards so a short-range link is only marginally beneficial. This is only necessary if you are a long way from the EV, doing something of interest like eating, shopping, hiking, visiting friends, etc. Sure, it’s a subscription, but I believe GM’s Onstar system costs about as much as an AAA membership which it replaces.

  • Skeptic

    Bwahahahahahaha! A cell phone app for a car that doesn’t exist!!!!

    GM is *brilliant*!

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  • zhzubair4

    This volt really seems like a great car. Cant wait until I can drive one.

    With my solar panels at home and its 40 mile range. I should be able to charge this car without using any gasoline and using any grid power.

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