Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Issue with Volt delivery! Not a good start...but a good ending!

So my anticipation burst into a million fragments of pain when I went to pick up my Volt yesterday. My salesrep told me to go setup OnStar, my seat settings etc. while he finished with another client. With keys in hand, my wife, brother and I went to see the Volt. Honestly, it is freakin' beautiful. It looks great in black and I am really happy to also have the polished wheels (I did not order them on the original Volt). They go perfectly with the black paint and they are not a tacky chrome. We sat in the Volt and immediately we all agreed that the bucket seats are incredibly comfortable. Missing a 5th seat could be a turn-off for some customers, however having 2 bucket seats in the rear looks really sharp. Anyway, I proceeded to configure OnStar, which involved speaking with an advisor and getting a quick tutorial on how to use the system. The whole process took about 5-7 minutes but was a great experience. The advisor even uploaded the coordinates of my home to the Volt's navigation system! That's a slick way to end the call! However I noticed I could not remote start the car. My gut told me something was wrong. I played with a few settings and configured some features like Bluetooth. The optional Bose sounds great, and the bass is pretty smooth. It is much better than I thought it would be after reading some online posts.

My salesrep came to give me some training on the car, even though I read the owner's manual twice. He tried remote starting the car and it didn't work. I then started the car and.....the check-engine-light stayed on. It was then that I did not feel so good anymore. The salesrep was genuinely disappointed that this happened. The Volt/OnStar emailed me a diagnostic report and said there was an issue with the Lithion-Ion batteries in the Voltec system. Wow this is not a good start. We went back to the salesrep's office and I, remaining totally professional, said that this was not a good start. I did not sign any papers and will not until we diagnosed the problem. Today the dealer called me and said the issue was a defective coolant pump. The Director called GM Canada and they gave me a few options:

  1. I could wait for the car I originally ordered. This means I would lose the optional mags, possibly the $250 gas credit and the interest rates could change. But I would get a brand new Volt without 472km. The car would arrive in mid-May barring any more delays. 
  2. Take the current car, but with a full GM Canada bumper to bumper warranty of 5 years, 60000km (this is $2100 here in Montreal!)
  3. Pay the difference if I want a longer warranty (ex. 7 year warranty with 80000km and $100 deductible is about $510 more than the 5 year warranty
Now we are talking about a full GM bumper-to-bumper warranty. I.e. They are extending the full 3 year warranty to 5 or 7 years. My wife really wanted to wait for the new Volt. I polled some friends and and colleagues and they all would jump on the extended warranties. I haven't decided which warranty to go for but I managed to convince my wife that having these super long extended warranties would provide incredible peace of mind. I will let you know what I decide. By the way the new coolant pump means a delay of 1-2 days before getting the Volt.

Back to reviewing the short experience with the Volt. I honestly find that in person, the center console is much LESS busier than it looks in pictures. The layout is pretty logical (HVAC controls are along the upper portion in an upsidedown "U", the radio controls are in the center with Navigation controls below). The touchscreen LCD resolution is great and it responds surprisingly fast to touch-inputs. The navigation screen looked crazy busy but I am used to a very old Garmin GPS so I believe all that information will be easier to parse as I get used to it. I found myself using the knob for some menus, and the touchscreen for others. Setting up my lowly iPhone4 and Bluetooth could not have been easier or smoother. Within seconds my contacts were stored in the Volt. The steering wheel has lots of buttons to control the cruise control, the lane departure warning system, the collision avoidance system and the radio/voice commands/phone. The heated seats warmed up incredibly fast! The touchsensitive center console worked perfectly when you I eventually used it properly. I kept hitting the little guide indentations instead of the area above the guides. 

Getting the seat adjusted is straightfoward, and having a tilt/telescopic steering is always a nice bonus. The cabin feels nicely finished, solid and definitely more upscale than your average Chevy. The leather seats look fantastic! As for the driver information center, it also has a good resolution LCD and I especially like the option of choosing how much or little information you want to see. 

On a cool note, to support OnStar means the Volt has a cellphone built in (it comes with its own phone number!). If I forget my cellphone. I can literally be reached by dialing the Volt's cell number. As a computer engineer, I find this way too cool! I ordered 60 minutes of talk time for $9 (after Quebec's 15% sales tax). I could have ordered 300 minutes for 14.99 (plus tax) but I honestly will never use the 60 minutes unless it is for fun. Apparently the 2014 Volts can read back text messages from your smartphone and even respond with generic answers. Insane! 

Anyway, allllll this to say that the Volt is really well though out. I was truly devastated yesterday with the whole CEL issue but I like the options provided by Hamel. It shows they are confident in the car and that GM Canada stands by their product. Let's face it, if the Volt ends up being perfectly reliable for the next 7 years then everybody wins. No costs for the dealer to handle warranty requests, and no frustration on my part to deal with problems. 

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