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Chevrolet and OnStar Give Volt Owners 24/7 Connection and Control via Wireless Smartphone Application

OnStar’s Mobile Application will use a real-time data connection to interact with the Volt and perform tasks from setting the charge time to unlocking the doors. Click to enlarge.

Chevrolet and OnStar used the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as the venue to unveil a smartphone application—which GM categorizes as the auto industry’s first such—that will allow Chevrolet Volt owners 24/7 connection and control of vehicle functions and OnStar features remotely.

OnStar’s Mobile Application allows drivers to communicate with their Volt from Droid by Motorola; Apple iPhone; and Blackberry Storm smartphones. It uses a real-time data connection to perform tasks from setting the charge time to unlocking the doors.

The Chevrolet Volt OnStar smartphone application is designed to enhance the overall Volt ownership experience with interaction and control never offered before on any electric vehicle. The application:

  • Displays charge status: plugged in or not, and voltage (120V or 240V);
  • Provides flexibility to “Charge Now” or schedule charge timing;
  • Displays percentage of battery charge level, electric and total ranges;
  • Allows owner to manually set grid-friendly charge mode for off-peak times when electricity rates are lowest;
  • Sends text or email notifications for charge reminders, interruptions and full charge;
  • Displays miles per gallon, electric only miles, and odometer readings;
  • Shows miles per gallon, EV miles and miles driven for last trip and lifetime; and
  • Remotely start the vehicle to pre-condition the interior temperature.

The Chevrolet Volt ushers in a new era of automotive technology and calls for a new level of connectivity and control. Nearly 6 million vehicles on the road today use OnStar to stay connected, and our new smartphone app will make that even easier for Volt drivers.

—Walt Dorfstatter, president, OnStar

The smartphone app communicates with the OnStar servers which are the intermediary between the app and the vehicle. OnStar’s real-time data connection also helps drivers maximize the environmental benefits of owning a Volt, even when not in the vehicle. The application’s intuitive Charge Status feature simplifies setting the charge time. Rather than using battery power, the application allows owners to start the Volt remotely to pre-condition the interior temperature using power from the grid. This preserves the battery charge for driving without gasoline.

When a charge command is activated, the Volt owner will receive a confirmation message on the application alerting the owner that a command has been successfully sent to the vehicle. If in view of the Volt, a green LED charge light on the dash will indicate the charge state.

Traditional OnStar features such as door lock, unlock and remote horn and lights—which have typically been accessible only through a call into the OnStar call center—will now be available via the application.

OnStar Mobile was developed from the ground-up by engineers in the OnStar EV Lab. (Earlier post.) In addition to this work, the team is leveraging OnStar’s connectivity to the vehicle to gather real-time data about development models of the Volt as they are tested. OnStar engineers then share this real-time data with the Volt engineering team to speed the development process and help ensure quality at the start of production.

Demonstration applications for the Motorola Droid and Blackberry Storm are available at The demonstration application for the Apple iPhone will be available on the iTunes store on 6 January.

Volt’s OnStar mobile application will also be available on a mobile browser for other internet-capable phones. 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.

Volt owners can opt-in to receive a monthly OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics e-mail report with diagnostics on the unique characteristics of an electric vehicle with extended range, as well as the maintenance information current OnStar subscribers receive. OnStar will also provide the connection for the Volt owner website, which will allow many of the same capabilities as the mobile application along with more in depth information on the vehicle’s history.

The OnStar subscription for the Chevrolet Volt will also include the safety, security and peace of mind services currently available to OnStar’s subscribers including Automatic Crash Response, Turn-by-Turn Navigation, Hands-Free Calling and Stolen Vehicle Assistance.

The Volt is an electric vehicle with extended-range capability. It is designed to drive up to 40 miles on electricity without using gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions. When the Volt’s lithium-ion battery is depleted of energy, an engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the total driving range to about 300 miles before refueling or stopping to recharge the battery.

OnStar Mobile Application will be available for Volt owners at launch. Production for the Volt is scheduled to begin in late 2010. Pricing has not been announced.




Mostly glitz, but then this could remind you to charge at night - after all it would not just be an unplanned stop at the gas station if you forgot.

I hope they did not hire any ex BMW iDrive programmers to create this - The Blackberry display shown looks intuitive.


Damn, someone stole my idea.


I like the lifetime mpg rating of 239! Clever....


GM needs to get the price down on this vehicle or they are looking at another huge failure in the marketplace. The price should be at par with an equivalent Prius-which will have a plug in model in production by the time Volt is available.


i agree the price of the Volt must come down, dramatically. But it doesn't compare exactly with the Prius. The volt is a true EV and should have much greater mpg and reliability.
GM will probably have some early sales of the Volt because of the geewhiz factor, and this will help offset their development costs. But i doubt sales will hold up at 35k price tag.
i don't understand why they didn't take an existing small vehicle, which has already passed crash tests, etc, rather than starting from scratch.


It IS mostly glitz as Toppa says. But just the kind of glitz early adopters love. With this little app proud Volt owners will buttonhole friends and regale them on the benefits of driving with NO GASOLINE. They'll happily show their latest AER stats to Prius owners.

Silly? Yep. Childish? We're talking human nature here friends. Effective? Damned right. Look at the swoon over cool consumer electronics, smart phones, blue ray, Wii etc. EVs ARE consumer electronics products. OnStar and GM have increased their marketing impact 20-30% with this gadget.

As for cost: Don't think GM has not been working to under-promise. The model for Prius - a clear success - is to absorb losses during introduction phases. Then sell through once the public sees the value. There are 40,000 people signed up for hands on demos who haunt the third party web site daily. This vehicle has as much positive anticipation built into it as an Apple product. If it had the Apple logo on it - it would guarantee sales of 200k units in the first iteration.

Nice work GM/OnStar.


I think GM has arguably picked the wisest course with the Volt.

They are “hammering the transparency” which includes not only the transition from E to ICE but the ability to drive from Malibu to the top of the Sierras at full power.

We might think this is totally unnecessary, and it is, unless they want to actually sell these things – to those who can afford them.

Until battery prices drop a lot, there is no way GM can make this truly affordable, and they dare not loose the PR Glory of a jump over the Prius and the overhyped Leaf (jump in capability/drivability not necessarily affordability).

I agree - “Silly? Yep. Childish? We're talking human nature here friends. Effective? Damned right.”

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