An owner of a 2013 model-year Chevrolet Volt made a forum post last week with the grim title “An Open Letter to GM - Fix this before someone dies!”. He describes his own unfortunate experience at the wheel of the range-extender hybrid, when it accelerated on its own and required some effort to bring to a halt safely.
We will let Gm-volt.com member "lsteiner" tell his story, first:
“Ok I did a dumb thing today on the freeway, I am used to switching to ICE when I get up on the freeway and switching back to Electric when getting off. So I am getting up onto the freeway in "Sport" mode and so used to switching to ICE that I don't look down at the mode button. (Bad mistake) I don't know why but this time my hand was too low and instead of pressing the Drive mode button four times in succession to switch to ICE, I inadvertently press the Power button four times. By the way, the ICE actually came on at that point.
The front LCD screen goes nuts and the air conditioning goes off and heat at the highest temperature starts pouring out of the vents. The car starts to lurch forward, like my foot is on the gas peddle slammed to the floor. I put my foot on the brake but when I lift it off the car rushes forward again. Again, my foot IS NOT on the gas peddle! The ICE was revving at it highest point but I finally was able to get the car to the side of the road by slamming my foot on the brake and keep it there till I came to a stop. Then while keeping my foot on the brake, press the Start button again several times until the car finally resets and officially turns off.
I was really lucky that the freeway was light at this time and there was no other car close to me or I definitely would have smashed into it.”
So, according to the owner of the car, the problem was created by pressing the wrong button four times – this is caused due to the design that groups the Power and Drive mode buttons too close together and places them relatively low, making their operation perhaps trickier than it should. Apparently, according to other forum members, pressing the Power button twice has been known to cause the car to shut down, but never accelerate on its own.
Another forum member, gilzapanta, also reports having a somewhat similar problem. Read his story below:
“I did this once, I actually thought I was pushing the "Mode" button while just getting on the freeway, but instead was pushing the "Power Button", 4 times, car started beeping at me and I started losing power. Luckily, I was able to pull over to the right before I was on the main freeway. I could have caused a huge accident but luckily I was far enough ahead of the next car. I have been more cautious when changing the mode now, don't want to be on the evening news for advertising in a bad way for the Volt. Boy did I feel really dumb. Can you see it, "Volt loses charge, causes major accident on freeway!" By the way, I tried putting it into "N", you have to be in "P" to start again. So coasting before the freeway and slapping it into neutral did not start my Volt up again. Parked and changed gears properly and it started fine, no issues after that.”
That's all we have for now, but we'll keep an eye on the matter and update you accordingly.
By Andrei Nedelea