More idiotic Volt design choices

I already dissected the godawful UI of the Volt's main control panel in a previous post. But the fearless designers at Chevrolet didn't stop there! They took great care to create problems that others solved a decade earlier.

The car has two states - turned on and turned off. (Okay, there's a third one, but we'll get to that later. It's stupid). If the car is turned on, it's ready to roll as soon as you shift it into drive. If it's turned off, it's basically a brick. You can't even roll down the windows.

To turn the car on, you have to put your foot on the brake and press the power button. Now let's say you're in the passenger seat, the car is turned off, and you want to roll down the windows. What do you do? That's right, fucking VOLT YOGA! Lean over the center console, left hand on the brake pedal, right hand on the power button.

I promised you a third mode, and there it is: After you turn off the car, it's basically in off state again, except that the radio remains on. You can still listen to whatever input device you want, and it's all good - until you open the driver side door, that's when the car switches back to its regular off state and the radio remains silent.

So you're making a quick stop at the liquor store to pick up something for on the road. Oh, your passenger wants to listen to the radio while you're gone? Well, better climb out of the fucking window, you inconsiderate punk! Getting out of the car the normal way would necessitate another healthy round of Volt Yoga to get the radio back on because the radio stays off until you turn the car back on.

Pressing the power button in a 2004 Prius without pressing down on the brake turns on the accessory mode where you can use all features of the car except for actually moving it. The Volt on the other hand simply mocks you when you press the power button without your foot on the brake:

It's like the engineers looked at other cars and figured, "hey, this makes sense, let's not do this in our cars".

Speaking of modes... the Volt has four drive modes. Two of them are specialty modes that you only need in some situations, but then there's normal mode and Sport mode. Those are misnomers though, they should be called "Prius simulation mode" and "the only useful mode" instead. The car isn't fun to drive in normal mode.

And guess in what mode the car starts up in? Of course, normal mode. To switch into sport mode, you need to press the mode button twice (at least it's one of the few coveted tactile ones, not a shitty capacitive one). So, every single time you get into the car and turn it on, you have to do that.

Remember how I complained about the lack of consistency in the UI in my previous post? Good news! This moronic behavior is consistent across the car! When charging with 110V, you can use 8A or 12A, the former being for people who live in medieval castles or generate their electricity using fitness bikes, the latter for everybody else in the US. It goes without saying that the car always starts up in 8A mode, and you have to play a fine game of "navigate the UI maze" to switch to 12A, or suffer through 11-hour charging times.

The backup camera deserves at least an honorable mention - after going into reverse, it takes a few seconds to actually turn on, and once it's on, it takes over your screen and prevents any other display from showing up. Who cares if it's 100 degrees and you want to turn the AC on? Screw you, you wanted to back up, now back the fuck up. And, best of all, once you go back to drive, the backup camera remains on the screen for a bit longer just to make sure you can sweat your ass off for some bonus time. We're talking seconds, but these seconds will be long, agonizing seconds filled with hatred.

And one more: The car wants to be helpful and warn you about forgetting the keys in the car. But it's being stupid about it. Let's say you pull up next to the mailbox, get out of the car and grab the mail? Better turn the car off, otherwise it'll honk the horn to politely let you know that you need to get back in the car when you're done with your mail. You, and all neighbors within a mile radius.

If you open the trunk and then close it, you'll often get the same treatment. And there's no way to turn this off either.

This isn't even a brand new car. This is the 2014 Volt, the engineers had two years to do a complete inventory of the substances they were on when they designed this thing, and fix the flaws. We're talking software fixes here. And while Tesla has continuously released new OTAs to add new awesome features (and a patch to change the suspension of the car), Chevy has done..... nothing. One critical bluetooth fix, other than that.... nothing.

Chevrolet wants to be in the "high tech" game with this car, but they still have a lot to learn.


aehrath said…
German car UI > American or Japanese Car UI. The differences are obvious to even a 5 year old. No excuses!