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Chevy Volt charging in front of Old Mazda 323 electric conversion

For those of you who are not familiar with a punch list it is a term that normally comes from the construction industry where the owner is allowed to withhold final payment unless the contractor fully completes items in the contract. The owner typically goes through the property inspecting it and pointing out this or that uncompleted item and adds them to a list and once those items are completed payment is made. The punch list I am talking about is different. In my Chevy Volt punch list the items I list are the items that I hope GM will improve in future iterations of the Chevy Volt over what I have in my 2011 Volt. I don’t have access to a 2012 or 2013 model year so some of the suggestions may have been fixed in subsequent model years, however, from my perspective as an owner of a 2011 Chevy Volt, if I were to buy a new Chevy Volt, these are the things I would want changed.

Number one on my list is that GM should offer the Chevy Volt with the shorter version of its front rubber air dam as standard equipment. I don’t know if this is offered in the new version as standard equipment, but when I purchased my Volt there wasn’t a shorter version option and that stupid air dam hits everything. I was told I could get a shorter air dam if I paid some money to have it changed. Pay for something that GM should have figured out was a problem just by driving the car around in normal roads? I don’t think so. The air dams length was a design problem that should have been caught early in the design/testing cycle and I shouldn’t have to pay to have it fixed.

Number two on my punch list is the radio connected to all functions of the car. This leads to this inevitable problem. You had a good night out and your favorite hard rock song comes on the radio, so you crank it up as you pull into the driveway.  You turn off the radio before shutting down the car. The next morning you get in the car and begin to drive to work. You realize that the car isn’t heating or cooling so you hit the climate button and BOOM!!! BULLS ON PARADE!!! fires out of the speakers slamming you back in your seat. If you weren’t awake before, you are now. Why the Chevy Volt has every button on the controls made so your radio turns on as well I don’t understand. Whatever the reason for this to happen, it makes driving uncomfortable. They’ve got to fix that.

Number three is the cap over the plug-in socket on the car. The cap on that thing never opens when you push the button on the door, and only opens when, if you have fingernails long enough and strong enough to do this, you push the plug button on your key fob while simultaneously jamming your fingernail or credit card into the edge of the cap and pulling. It seems to stick more when it rains. I said only opens using this technique, however, it also seems to have a nasty habit of opening while driving if regular keys happen to hit the cap open button on the key fob when it is in my pocket. It would be nice if the door were more motorized, then, when you get a charge door open warning on the dash all you should have to do is push the button on the door or your key fob and it will close by its self. Also, figure out what is making it stick and fix it. Please.

Number four on the punch list should be doing something about the traction control computer and its warning to the dash display. I don’t know if everyone experiences this but if my Volt goes over a series of bumps such as rumble strips, a series of painted lines or just a tightly grouped collection of cracks or small pot holes the traction control warning comes on and I loose my braking ability for a split second. This is scary and if GM is listening they should really look into this problem. I don’t believe it is anything serious or even that dangerous, but for driving control comfort it is uncomfortable.

Number five would be for GM to put a light in the charge port. This isn’t a problem that I have encountered often, however I have been in a dark parking lot where the lighting was coming from the other side of the vehicle and I struggled to get the car plugged in. I simple ring of LED lights would do the trick. Something to make the charge port more visible in the dark would be a big help.

Number six would be to add a flexible fuel option or just make all Volts flex fuel vehicles. Ethanol in agricultural regions of the United States are becoming more and more in tune with the idea of producing their own fuel from plant matter or biomass. So you see that more and more stations are dedicating a pump or two to E85, (85% Ethanol, 15% gasoline). I want to use as little petrol as possible and being given the option to have my liquid fuel backup be mostly free from petroleum based product would be something that I as well as many Volt owners or Volt owners to be would like.

Seventh would be to move the inboard internal combustion engine to the Atkinson cycle instead of the Otto cycle. The Otto cycle is the cycle that internal combustion engines use to work best as being a direct power source to the wheels. Non-hybrid cars use the Otto cycle. You press the accelerator and the added gasoline gives you more power and torque. However, the Otto cycle is far less efficient than the Atkinson cycle. The Atkinson cycle is designed for maximum efficiency. The engine would be set to operate at its most efficient cycle to generate electricity and therefore increase the miles per gallon the Volt would get when using the backup engine. The batteries would be used to smooth out the need for greater power when suddenly accelerating. GM said that they chose the Otto cycle instead of the Atkinson cycle because drivers would expect for the engine to change pitch in noise when they depress the accelerator pedal. This doesn’t follow logically since most of the time Volt drivers will be using electricity and they don’t get any audio cues from the nearly silent electric motor. GM, how about you give us the better gas mileage instead. If we needed to hear the roar of the engine we would have bought a car with only an internal combustion engine as its power source.

Eighth would be price. It seems that when GM offers prices on the Volt that are $6 to $10 thousand less than the current sticker price the Volt sells extremely well. I have written about how incorrect GM’s Volt pricing strategy is before in my posts here at EV World. A survey among first adopters put the optimal price at far below what GM set as its actual price. The price to have wide acceptance of the vehicle among general automobile consumers would naturally be lower than that. A price point around $34,000 before any incentives would make the Volt a best seller.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my Chevy Volt. I have driven home built and experimental electric vehicles for years before getting my Volt and the difference is amazing. The Volt is an electric car with no drawbacks of an electric car. I fill up for local driving maybe once a year, which makes me very happy. I have been able to take my Volt cross-country without batting an eye. For those not familiar with electric vehicles the idea of getting stuck somewhere without a charge looms large before they actually purchase. Once you get used to driving an electric vehicle range issues largely disappear. The Volt eliminates that barrier to purchase with its configuration. My Volt is fast, quiet and responsive. It meets nearly all of my needs nearly all of the time. It is comfortable, more comfortable than many ICE cars I have owned, and stylish. But my Volt isn’t a person and it can be improved. When I studied Japanese management the word we used to describe this was, “Kaizen.” It means the progressive long-term betterment of something or the continuous improvement of something or some process. As long as the Chevy Volt continues to improve it will have no equals. Thank you GM for taking this all important step in to the future, however,  Kaizen.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I so want a Volt. sigh. Thank you for sharing (19+ / 0-)

    your experiences.

    if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

    by mrsgoo on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 01:14:53 AM PST

  •  What is an air dam? (7+ / 0-)

    Resuming episode.

    My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

    by pucklady on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 01:16:00 AM PST

  •  I Drive An "Old" Car (7+ / 0-)

    a 1999 VW Passat. Only had about 33,000 miles on it. For most of my adult life I lived in a large metro area where I used public transit. Now a rural area, but I tend to get on my bicycle more often then not.

    What stuns me is my car is a large car. Fast. A V6. It gets 28 MPG. Not great, but it is a large car made in 1999. Why how we not improved on this in the last decade or so?

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 01:50:47 AM PST

  •  Our Leaf club gave Nissan a bunch of requests for (15+ / 0-)

    improvement, like your punch list only imagine more than 80 items.  They implemented about a quarter of them into the 2013 Leaf, including a light on the charge port door.

    The #1 request was to go to the faster charger (6.0 kWh instead of the 3.3 one they used because there was no 6.0 when they specced the danged things).  That's in there as well.

    This was a result of a ginormous meeting in December 2011 with over a hundred Leaf owners and several Nissan engineers from Japan.

    If you want Volt to listen, get an owners group together.  Strength in numbers, and make it worth their while.

    I'm surprised you didn't ask for the SAE-Combo quick-charge port.  There aren't any units that have that plug yet, but GM wants it as a standard (and to drown out Nissan's ChAdeMo plug, which IS found in several places in several states).  The SAE-Combo switch is supposed to charge faster than ChAdeMo, so the Volt should fill up even faster.

    You know what I want?  I want workplace chargers to have four or even eight connectors, so you can park all day without having to move and still share the charger.  Employers who put in chargers find there are far more employees with EVs than chargers installed.  Google is doing valet service for some of them where they move the full vehicles and drive up the ones that need more electrons.

    •  I've Always Work For Very Progressive Companies (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joelado, indie17, Lujane, cotterperson, elwior

      I mean really liberal. Over-the-top liberal. We didn't have a car like the Volt at the time I worked there, but I can assure you they would have found a way to ensure I could plug my car in.

      I mean it is just such a easy and great idea. I was always taught by my bosses you need to make a workplace that is giving. That it is a place talent wants to come.

      Doing little things, like taking care of your employees was the start.

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 02:20:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm sure they would if you were the only Volt or (0+ / 0-)

        Leaf or Tesla owner.  But what if they have 10 of them and had put in a couple of chargers back when there was just one Volt?

        The reality is I don't know which is tougher, living here at EV Central where there are routinely way more EVs and plug in hybrids than workplace chargers, or living as the only plug-in vehicle within 100 miles and trying to convince your employer you need access to a 240V outlet every day.

    •  I don't ever expect to charge at my workplace. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joelado, Lujane, cotterperson, wader

      A public school will never allow teachers to charge their cars at school. We are always on a drive to use less electricity.

      •  Then there in a drive to pollute more. The cost of (4+ / 0-)

        charging a vehicle is much less than paying for gasoline. If they don't want to pay the little amount to charge a plug-in they should offer a pay for use electric vehicle charger.

        Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

        by joelado on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 04:55:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They could even make money on it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KenBee

          The ChargePoint units can be configured to charge by the hour or by the session or both.  Or free.  But what is the school paying per kilowatt, 12 cents?  Even the cars with the 6.6 kW chargers aren't going to use more than 60 kWh a day which comes to a whopping $7.50.  So pass the cost on, it's a win-win.

      •  I work at a public school (12+ / 0-)

        and I charge my Volt there every day.

        When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

        by litho on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 05:49:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's silly (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee

        All the schools around here are putting up solar panels over the parking lots.  Generate electricity during the day when the school is in session, plus the panels are for the most part covered by grants.

        Your school district should be looking to get in on all this grant action AND save on electric bills.  Encouraging vehicle charging on top of that is another bonus and at least in California there were incentives and grants for charging stations.

  •  GM can't fix this. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado, NoMoreLies, Lujane, elwior, wader
    Number four on the punch list should be doing something about the traction control computer and its warning to the dash display. I don’t know if everyone experiences this but if my Volt goes over a series of bumps such as rumble strips, a series of painted lines or just a tightly grouped collection of cracks or small pot holes the traction control warning comes on and I loose my braking ability for a split second. This is scary and if GM is listening they should really look into this problem. I don’t believe it is anything serious or even that dangerous, but for driving control comfort it is uncomfortable.
    It is an ABS problem due to how the car decides the wheels are locked. The repeated bumps confuse the sensors so they apply the ABS.

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 04:30:14 AM PST

  •  Will do a 100% electric vehicle in time (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado, Lujane, cotterperson, elwior

    I've been waiting for decades for the right technology - I've decided to wait some more.  This nascent innovation needs a few more years to fully develop.

    I don't imagine that it'll be much more than half a decade, but - catapulting my strategery - timing will then be right.

    Guns as self-defense insurance never were a magic bullet.

    by thenekkidtruth on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 05:02:04 AM PST

    •  What are your driving habbits? Most people drive (7+ / 0-)

      less than 40 miles a day. The Volt has been out since 2010. It is in its 4th model year and all that time it has been the most satisfied initial quality winner according to Car and Driver magazine. If GM implements this punch list the Volt should stay there. What are you waiting for? There are no drawback for anyone owning a Volt unless they don't need a regular car. You don't even need to charge it up. You save money on fuel if you do, you save the wear and tear on brakes, you reduce the times you need tuneups, filter, oil changes etc. if you do, but if you can't you still get 38 miles to the gallon now and if they move to the Atkinson cycle you should see all gasoline mileage move up to somewhere around 45 miles to the gallon. That is better than a Smart car. It can do the quarter mile in 16 seconds. It can do highway speeds of over 100 miles an hour. It looks hot with a nice aggressive stance. I get my electricity through a 100% Green Power plan through my local utility so my Volt is powered by solar, wind and/or biogas most of the time. My typical fuel bill for my Volt is somewhere around $10 bucks a month. Why wait when you can enjoy all of this for the next 5 years and then get whatever improvement over this with the next improved vehicles when they come out?

      Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

      by joelado on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:16:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  For people who shit money, it probably doesn't (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joelado, Deward Hastings, wader, ozsea1

        make sense to wait a few years until they iron out the bugs.

        For the rest of us, it does.

        "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

        by JesseCW on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:21:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Uhh, there's another option (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thenekkidtruth, joelado, elwior

          first of all, obviously the Volt is not the only car out there for sale. if you insist on buying a new model/type of car the very first year it comes out-- you're going to have to deal with the bugs. if you don't want bugs, then buy a car that has been manufactured for two years or more.

          second, there are tons of car reviews by purchasers available on the internets.

          I think it prudent to read these reviews of first year model cars-- as part of the decision making process. with all of the information out there, we can't credibly claim "I didn't know", or "nobody told me" about the problems a particularly vehicle may have.

          "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

          by Superpole on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:50:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am a plug-in vehicle activist. If I wasn't going (7+ / 0-)

            to buy the first vehicles off the line, then who was? My vehicle is the 1118th vehicle off the assembly line. I know I don't have any excuse for complaining, but I still am. I want to keep GM's feet to the fire to keep improving the Volt so that it keeps being a great car and winning new customers. If I am complaining about these things, and I love the car, what are none enthusiast muttering under their breath? Kaizen.

            Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

            by joelado on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 07:23:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I certainly don't see you as "complaining", I see (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              joelado, cotterperson, wader, ozsea1, elwior

              you as preparing a very well-thought-out list of potential improvements to an already superb car!

              I also salute you and others like you for "buy[ing] the first vehicles off the line". I am very financially-challenged, and must always wait for the price to come down on new technology before buying it. But if there weren't bold, committed folks who can afford to pay "top dollar" for the good new stuff - and do so - it would never get developed.

              So thank you for being a "Volt pioneer"!

              I still need a small pickup truck for work, but my current Colorado gets driven about 5,000 miles per year and the rest of my personal travel is by motorcycle. The time will come (sooner rather than later) when I an too old to be so motorcycle-dependent, and when I no longer need a pickup. I am so looking forward to buying an "improved" Chevy Volt when that time comes!

              "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

              by blue in NC on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 08:10:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I Get It... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              joelado

              I applaud your support of and enthusiam for EV's.

              My quibble is your "punch list" analogy which isn't all that strong-- a car is a consumer item manufactured hopefully by a credible, responsible company.

              A building is not a consumer item; they can cost millions of dollars and the lifecycle is much longer than a car.

              We as consumers definitely need to "hold manufacturer's feet to the fire". particularly in the case of the Volt, which I am not convinced has a long term future.

              "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

              by Superpole on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 11:08:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't think that internal cumbustion engines (0+ / 0-)

                have much of a future. When you take into account the cost of the fuel, the cost of maintaining the vehicles, the damage they do the environment, the problems they cause in over influencing out government and the problems they cause us and peoples around the world, you come to realize petroleum based fuels are just not worth it. Get an plug-in and do most of your miles sponsored by the sun, wind, hydro-electric etc.

                Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

                by joelado on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 11:27:56 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  That's part of the problem (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joelado, wader, elwior

        I work 100 miles from my green home.  I need to be in a situation where I'm working within "electric car" distance from my home.  I'm working on that.

        In the meantime, I economize and eco-ize the best I can.

        Guns as self-defense insurance never were a magic bullet.

        by thenekkidtruth on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 07:16:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  that stupid air dam hits everything (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado, Lujane, Subterranean

    I don't know if it's an air damn, but the damned front of my Honda Civic scrapes everything too.  It also sucks on snow.
    On the highway, I feel like my teeny tiny tires are going to melt from turning so much.   I hate my Honda, and I will never ever buy another foreign or compact car.

    I would buy a Chevy Volt if they weren't so expensive.  

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

    by dkmich on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 05:11:53 AM PST

    •  You should try driving a Honda Insight (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joelado, Deward Hastings, ozsea1, wader

      The thing is so incredibly close to the ground.  Normally it's not a problem, but it will end up scraping on things if you're not careful.  I recently tore the rubber under-cover loose by driving onto a parking stop.  The stop was slightly uphill, but still, how many other cars would that happen to?  Probably not.  

      Not that I'm complaining.  It's an amazing car, but it has its quirks.  

    •  I retrofit an air dam (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joelado, dkmich

      onto a Dodge van I used to own . . . it actually made a significant difference in highway mileage.  And it kept tearing off every time I drove on rural (dirt) roads with any appreciable crown/rutting.  I spent a lot of time under the thing adding fender washers and other extenders to the mounts, as the dam itself got progressively more ripped up.  In the end, while it saved some gas, I don't believe it ever paid for itself.  If I never drove it off the freeway it probably would have, though . . .

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 10:00:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Solar re-charge (6+ / 0-)

    Is there any reason solar can't be utilized for recharging? There are some new ways to grab solar that could be incorporated right into the body of the Volt, so if it's sitting in a parking lot for a few hours it would perhaps be enough to refill? Any thoughts on that?

    The battle for Helms Deep is over. The battle for Middle Earth has just begun.

    by Mithrandir on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 05:13:03 AM PST

    •  It's not really practical... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joelado, indie17, Lujane, Ashaman, wader

      Current solar cells aren't efficient enough to make much of a difference.  You'd get a negligible charge from it, even if you parked in full sun.  It would really do almost nothing.  That's why that sort of thing isn't integrated yet.  

      To charge an EV in a reasonable amount of time you'd need a pretty large solar array, probably at least 10 full sized panels or so (obviously it depends how far the battery is drained how long it would take).

    •  Given current affordable photo-voltaics (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joelado, indie17, Lujane, Ashaman, sea note, wader

      it would take a week to fully charge it on bright days if you covered all the flat surfaces of the car.

      Of course, there' no reason our parking lots shouldn't be roofed with solar panels providing the electricity to fill our batteries.

      "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

      by JesseCW on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:24:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is already here. Tesla is setting up solar (20+ / 0-)

      high speed chargers across California and expanding it across the United States as well. Google has solar charging in place for its employees, and more and more organizations and businesses are putting solar powered electric vehicle charging stations across the country.  photo plugincarsgmprovinggroundssmall_zpseb18ca1d.jpg

      Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

      by joelado on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:24:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is a lot of move in that direction but not (8+ / 0-)

      with the Volt or other standard plug-ins. They are built around the traditional idea of a car and that means heavy steel. Solar panels right now can't produce enough energy to be the only source of energy for vehicles as they are currently made. However, Solar cars have been racing each other for decades and now average over 60 miles an hour indefinitely. Now, there are organizations that are experimenting with commuter class vehicles.
       photo 5b92b50f-8aac-44e4-a7c5-ebedb0348a8b_zps16170737.jpg Purdue University is doing a lot of good work in this area.


      I myself own an electric vehicle with solar panels on it.  photo HPIM0434.jpg
      Yes. That is my ride. A customized Fiero converted to electric and made with a custom front end and back deck embedded with solar panels. At 96 Volts and somewhere around 16 Amps it doesn't provide much, but it would get me a mile or two if left out in the sun all day. The main thing that the panels would do was to keep electricity flowing through my lead acid batteries, which would make them last longer. Given that they were the most expensive part of the car the longer they would last the less expensive the car would be to own. I paid $7.50 a month for the electricity for that car.

      Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

      by joelado on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 07:09:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Radio, plug-in socket cover, and the charge light (13+ / 0-)

    were all resolved on the 2012. The radio is now disconnected from all the other functions and it also automatically resets to a predetermined, user-defined volume every time the car is started (radio turned on? I haven't tried that).

    The sticking charge door was replaced the first time I brought it in for service to the dealer -- at the 7500 mile tire rotation -- still waiting at 13k for the computer to tell me I need an oil change!  The housing still sticks a bit when snow or ice get in there, but mostly it works like a charm.

    As for the lights, the put the LEDs on the charger handle rather than on the plug housing, and it only lights when you squeeze it. That also works well.

    At the top of my list is greater range for the battery. My commute is about fifty miles, and I can make it warm weather but in the cold with the heater on I'm lucky to get thirty miles!

    When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

    by litho on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 05:59:12 AM PST

  •  Your Punch List Analogy (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado, Lujane, hungeski, ozsea1

    Your explanation of how a "punch list" works in the construction industry is more or less accurate-- except for one major point which dilutes your car purchase punch list comparison to a construction project.

    I'm in the construction biz, so I know what I'm talking about. In that business, yes there typically is a punch list. and typically the general contractor responsible for the project gets progress payments as the project is gradually completed.

    Each payment made to the GC has "retainage" of that payment withheld by the owner making the payment, typically 10% of the amount due-- which is withheld until the end of the project, i.e. after the punch list is completed to the owner's satisfaction, and other contract requirements are met.

    The whole point of retainage is to give the building owner some leverage over contractors, who sometimes refuse to resolve punch list work-- the contractor must complete the work in order to receive final payment. The retainage money also serves to provide the owner with money to bring in another contractor to complete the work, if the initial contractor refuses to do the work. this is all written into the main contract for construction.

    we as car purchasers have no such contract or leverage over the car manufacturers/car sellers.

    Pay for something that GM should have figured out was a problem just by driving the car around in normal roads? I don’t think so. The air dams length was a design problem that should have been caught early in the design/testing cycle and I shouldn’t have to pay to have it fixed.
    Did you thoroughly test drive the car prior to purchase?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe 2011 was the first model year for sales of the new Volt. Most car purchasers know it's risky to purchase a first year model new car-- due to the sort of bugs you describe which generally are worked out by the manufacturer in the following year or two the car is made.

    In this case, the old adage applies, let the buyer beware.

    http://www.mnn.com/...

    "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

    by Superpole on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:02:37 AM PST

  •  Have had my 2013 since Nov (9+ / 0-)

    Best car evah. No hype. The cap for the plug up must have been fixed because it's very easy. There's a button on the remote. That damn air damn is annoying (I have a sloped driveway) however the sales guy told me its a $30 replacement part if you ever want to replace.

  •  Flex fuel? (6+ / 0-)
    Q. Why does it require premium gas? Can it use E85 like a flex-fuel vehicle?

    A. To extract the necessary power from a small high-efficiency 4-cylinder, engineers designed the engine with a high compression ratio. Premium fuel is required to prevent engine damage with such high internal pressures. The Volt engine will not be compatible with an E85 ethanol blend until 2013, though the original concept car was said to be.

    This is old and partly paywalled NYTimes, October 15, 2010
  •  Any love for the i MiEV here? (6+ / 0-)

    I've owned mine since May 2012 and love it. You save more than $10,000 over the Volt and get on average about 65 miles on a charge. I have an '03 Elantra as my gas-car backup for longer trips but so far I've used the MiEV for close to 90% of my driving and have put 7,000 miles on it.

  •  My 1st-generation Honda Insight (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado, davehouck, ozsea1

    got surrendered in 2008 when the economy shat itself and died and I couldn't continue to make payments.

    Now I drive a late-90's Subaru which, while not as bad in terms of gas consumption and carbon impact as it could be, I guess, still uses about twice as much fuel as the Insight did. :(

    I loved that car, though. A little anemic in certain situations, but it looked cool and used next to no gasoline.

    Visit Lacking All Conviction, your patch of grey on those too-sunny days.

    by eataTREE on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:59:07 AM PST

  •  Ethanol isn't free of fossil fuels (8+ / 0-)

    The farmers who grow the corn use fossil fuels, and lots of them.  Adding some ethanol to gas is a good idea because it makes the gas burn cleaner, but you aren't reducing the global use of fossil fuels by burning ethanol, you are actually increasing it.  

    http://auto.howstuffworks.com/...

    A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both. - Dwight David Eisenhower

    by Mestral on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 07:09:53 AM PST

    •  Why not make farm equipment that uses Ethanol? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davehouck

      Ethanol does not have to be made from food crops. It can be made by a great variety of plant matter. Until they make the backup to the Volt to take water, I am limited to using the fuels available. I don't want to fund greedy oil companies and nations that don't embrace full democracy. Right now my choices are give the money to them or give the money to farmers. I am choosing farmers.

      Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

      by joelado on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 07:17:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Corn ethanol is a Bad Idea (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LordMike, joelado, ozsea1, rcbowman

        If we grew sugar cane like we do dandelions then burning ethanol for car fuel would be a goo way to go. All we're doing is raising food prices by diverting food to car juice. Corn ethanol benefits Archer Daniels midland, and does little or anything in terms of carbon pollution.

        •  Using that corn to feed cattle is also a bad idea (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joelado, ozsea1, Quicklund

          Cows can't digest it due to the high starch content. They end up creating more methane as a result. The fertilizers used to grow that corn also create problems downstream due to run off. This is part of the reason we have a growing dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi. There was a documentary made by the U of M that showed that a farmer feeding his cows grasses did better due to the fact that he didn't see increased costs when oil prices went up which raised fertilizer prices.

          Some people have short memories

          by lenzy1000 on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 09:42:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Farmers should be using biodiesel (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joelado, ozsea1

        Most farm equipment is diesel. We have a biodiesel research plant here in Mn.

        BioCat Fuels was organized in May 2008 to build biodiesel production plants using the Mcgyan process, a highly flexible, innovative technology developed by a group of Minnesota scientists. The process allows BioCat to turn a variety of non-food plant and animal oils into biodiesel. McNeff Research Consultants (MRC) has licensed this technology to BioCat Fuels for use in new biodiesel production plants.

        BioCat’s president/CEO, Ric Larson, was a banker for 24 years prior to founding BioCat Fuels. Larson’s expertise in business and finance combined with MRC’s expertise in biodiesel technology gives the new company a firm foundation to grow quickly and to contribute to America’s energy independence.

        http://www.biocatfuels.com/...

        The Mcgyan catalyst can turn a wide variety of things into biodiesel. The only problem with biodiesel is cold weather performance, which wouldn't be a problem for farmers.

        Some people have short memories

        by lenzy1000 on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 09:22:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You give money to the farmers, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joelado

        the farmers pass it straight along to the oil companies.  Adding a middle-man doesn't change who your money is going to.

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 10:06:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  How digitally customizable is the Volt? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado, cotterperson, ozsea1

    Or, for that matter, all modern cars. I know that you can swap out and/or reflash the firmware on most modern cars to change how they perform and operate, the way you can with most smartphones--hell, this has been possible for several decades--but my understanding is that most manufacturers frown on this, for obvious reasons (you can potentially fry an engine or cause a crash if you don't know what you're doing).

    Does the Volt, or do any other modern cars, make this a feature, albeit with limitations? Or do they at least make certain digitally-controlled features of their cars customizable, either via some dashboard control or by plugging in a laptop or smartphone (or even via WiFi or Bluetooth), be they basic ones like opening car doors or starting the engine remotely, or more advanced ones like changing the way the engine operates or gears change.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 07:58:41 AM PST

    •  'Chipping' an electric? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie, joelado

      Doesn't really seem possible.  However on our Model S, between the ~October firmware and the ~January firmware update they changed the 'throttle response' and I think improved the 0-60 as well as increased regen a little further down the braking range.

      So it must be possible, but this kind of thing is left to the manufacturers for now.  It almost certainly would violate the warranty (as with ICE cars) and I'd like to keep our 8 year/unlimited miles warranty intact.  

      No gears btw.  That's one of the really nice things about the Tesla cars at least.  Smooth power all the way.

      •  Truly direct drive w/o gearing? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joelado

        Wow, interesting. As for the hacking, be it authorized or not, I can't see how they stop this given how popular and easy it is with smartphones and other digital devices. Might as well authorize it, with restrictions. I can see lots of perfectly safe and legitimate reasons to do that. Plus, it is your car.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 11:12:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Reason We Got Plug-in Hybrids Was Hackers (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kovie, joelado, Calamity Jean

          People hacked their Priuses to make them plug-in hybrids to the displeasure of Toyota.

          Toyota even tried suing them and other methods of shutting them down.  Like refusing to honor warranties or repair modified Priuses.

          Next thing you know (well, if ~10 years is a "next" thing) Toyota itself decides to "invent" a plug-in hybrid.

  •  Number 4... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado

    doesn't sound normal.

    While some ABS systems are occasionally touchy about stuff like rumble strips, such behavior may also indicate possible mechanical problems. The engineers spend a lot of time perfecting the algorithms that run these systems, and while the computer might get fooled once in a while, it should not happen constantly. I would let the dealer know, and have it checked out. You may have a wheel sensor that is out of position, or ready to fail, or some other part may be defective.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 08:20:35 AM PST

    •  yeah (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joelado

      there was mention of the dealer in list item #1 but not in the others... i would think that the dealer would/could fix many of the list items

      In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. - Samuel Langhorne Clemens aka Mark Twain

      by Dr Seuss on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 05:37:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for the punch list and the conversation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, joelado

    I want to buy a new car. I can afford a Volt. I already own a 2007 Prius, and am mightily tempted to get a new Prius 3 or Prius 4.

    But here in the Land of Abundant Sun, not a single dealer carries the Prius Plug-in, and the Volt is only, maybe, available at dealers more than 80 miles away. (I've talked to dealers and they say 'no Prius Plug-in available until sometime later in the year' and the Chevy dealers say they have a 'couple' of Volts 'sometimes'.

    I'd like to have a vehicle that could do 25+ miles on a single charge. That's about the mileage I cover when doing all errands around town. Then I need long-distance coverage that can by a combination of battery and gas easily travel 150-200 without a charge. (That's a trip to Albuquerque, doing errands, seeing friends, pick someone up at the airport). Our driveway is only large enough for one car, so I can't get a pure electric for in-town and some sort of hybrid for long-distance.

    So my options are really limited, and the lack of availability nearby, which means there's probably no skilled technicians to do maintenance in my home town.

    But I appreciate the clear report you gave us about the Volt you own. I hope some of these problems have been fixed. The issue with the plug and cap does concern me because the arthritis in my hands would make it very difficult to grab and yank on the plug cap even on a good day.

    I hoped to buy a electric car made by a USA manufacturer, but my options seem so limited. I know from experience that the Prius has the right type of options that would make the car enjoyable to drive and space enough to carry 25 file boxes of books at one time. Both of those needs are critical for the way I use my car and the things I need to carry with me.

    Any links to good web sites and forums, suggestions and opinions, I will appreciate and continue my research with the help of more knowledgable people.

    Bookmarked and be back around when I can today. Thanks!

    "We have two parties in this country right now. One party is a center-right party that believes that it is unseemly to let old people die in the streets. And the other party is insane." Charles P Pierce

    by NMRed on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 08:31:48 AM PST

    •  Go to Plug-In America. They have all the answers. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NMRed

      Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

      by joelado on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 10:20:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ditto the PlugInAmerica post (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joelado, NMRed

      Given the need to do ~200 miles without a charge and normal around town of ~25 miles, your choice is either a plug-in hybrid or a Tesla.  Narrowing down to just USA made, I think the choice is Volt vs Model S.

      Volt - the 2013 model (from comments above) is improved and has better plug cap.  I'm not sure about hauling around 25 file boxes (that's a lot) in a Volt however.  I think you could do it but it would be tight.  Cost is about $40K (MSRP from Ford's site for base car) before the $7500 tax rebate (if you pay that much in taxes, of course).

      Model S - bigger car, nicer car, batteries only.  The file boxes would go in back seat, rear hatchback and frunk (prolly only 3-5 in the frunk).  200 miles means 85kWh battery (60kWh battery is close, but you'll appreciate the extra juice in summer to keep the AC on full).  Cost for 85kWh is about $75K (from the design my Model S app on Tesla's site for base car plus active air suspension (active air is worth it, imho)).

      Maintenance, Volt - go to Ford dealer, drop off car, etc.
      Maintenance, Tesla - if you are within 100 miles of the service center (none in NM, one in AZ) then drop it off and know that Tesla you have experts working on it.  If outside of 100 miles then they come to you.  There is a yearly fee for that, and once per year or every 12500 miles service.  I think the cost is $2000 for four years pre-paid, but I might be wrong.  Warranty repairs are free, of course.

      •  can see that my options are limited (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joelado

        but there's bound to be something out there I can use.

        As for the boxes: my business and my passion is Science Fiction/Fantasy and I need to be able to haul a lot of books around several times a month.

        Going to do some more research in my copious spare time (cough cough). I got a chunk of cash and for the first time ever I can buy a new car without waiting for the old car to die, and I want to go ahead and get some new wheels!

        Maybe I can buy a car in LA when I visit next month, have it hauled out here on a transport trailer, and just hope that by the end of the year a local dealer will be totally equipped to do regular maintenance nearby.

        Weirdly enough, although Santa Fe has a reputation of being 'green' and liberal, but it sure doesn't show in what various 'green' tech what we can buy locally, our recycling rates, or even water usage during drought.

        "We have two parties in this country right now. One party is a center-right party that believes that it is unseemly to let old people die in the streets. And the other party is insane." Charles P Pierce

        by NMRed on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 12:14:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Buy what in LA tho? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joelado

          If buying a Tesla, they'll deliver it to your home.  If buying a Volt, they'll deliver to your dealer and you can just drive it home.  It is a 8% hit in sales taxes if you take delivery in California, I'm don't think you can get that back.  

          Plug-In Prius is a nice car too.  You really should consider it.

          Tho when in LA you could take a look at all the options and pick the one right for you.

    •  ford fusion Energi or (0+ / 0-)

      C-Max Energi or get a Fiskar Karma.

      If you can wait 6 months the Honda Accord Plug in
      or Volvo Plug in will be out this year.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

  •  The price cannot be lowered very easily. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, joelado

    There are only 2 ways they can lower the price.

    1. Sell the car at a substantial loss.  You could argue that new technology should be subsidized to get the market started.  But they could not keep that up if sales volume is very high.

    2. Somehow be able to build the batteries for a much lower cost.  It's the cost of the batteries that make the Volt more expensive.  Hopefully some combination of better technology and increased supply of lithium will bring that about.

    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

    by Thutmose V on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 08:52:46 AM PST

    •  Volume sales and economies of scale bring the (0+ / 0-)

      cost of anything way down. If businesses think that they are going to make a lot of money producing something then typically a lot of suppliers jump into the market. When the product does not have a highly differentiated demand and the products function is standard such as batteries, the new suppliers in an over saturated market begin to differentiate their product through price. This shakes out high cost suppliers and leaves low cost suppliers with greater market share. Right now the persevered value of supplying batteries has to incorporate fixed costs of the factory, the high cost of materials, specialized machinery and more. Once the batteries have been produced for a while many of the fixed costs get paid for and with greater volume sales the prices of the materials normally comes down. Just look at VCRs. When they first came out they were thousands of dollars. Today they cost under $100. The same thing is already happening with batteries. The retail price of vehicle grade Lithium Ion Batteries has come down dramatically in the last 5 years. Volume sales of plug-ins have grown across almost every automobile manufacturer. Once a manufacturer reaches over 10,000 vehicles the production of the battery cells starts reaching into the millions. That is mass production territory. Chevy, Nissan, Toyota all have hybrid and plug-in volumes well into those numbers. Prices my friend are coming down.

      Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

      by joelado on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 10:33:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Safety factor? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado

    Isn't the quietness of electric cars a danger to pedestrians? The possibility of hitting someone who didn't see me really scares me.

    That said, I've always wanted one because I so detest the fossil fuel industry. Though I don't  drive enough to warrant a new car at this point, I sure hope they can get the price down so more people can afford them.

    Thanks, joelado, for the interesting info!

    "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

    by cotterperson on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 09:06:20 AM PST

    •  It is a matter of the driver and the peddestrian (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson

      looking out. The noise of today's regular cars is lower than the noise the tires make at low speeds. EVs in most cases are silent, but we live in a very noisy world. It will be a releaf to not have so much noise. However, the truth is that even though this isn't a real problem, so far the number of accidents attributed to pedestrians not hearing the cars is lower than ICE cars as a percentage of incidents, the government has mandated that EVs make noise and so while traveling at slow speeds an artificial sound is going to be added to electric vehicles. Most of the sample noises will sound like the noise an inefficient electric motor would make that will change with the speed if the vehicle.

      Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

      by joelado on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 10:41:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The plug door on mine opens (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado

    In fact, it opens too easily any time I so much as brush that button.

    My big gripe? The "plug door open" warning never appears until I'm half a mile down the road.

  •  I've had a 2012 for 7 months... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado

    I have none of the complaints you list, so they must have fixed them. I understand the dealer will replace the air dam at no cost, but it will lower your range by 2-3 miles or so. Not worth it to me...I can handle the scrape.

    They really should lock the charging plug when the fob isn't around. An electro-magnetic ring lock would work just fine, I think. When I plug in at work, I then have to padlock the cable through my wheel. Every day.

    My biggest issue is the charging program....it isn't aware that you might be charging somewhere other than home. When I get to work, I want it charging immediately. When I get home, I want it to wait until midnight to charge, for lowest rates. It should recognize by GPS where you are and what charging profile you want to use. And at home, it should also charge whenever you enter the "lowest electricity rate", rather than "x hours before departure time". That's a complete no-brainer...lowest rate and plugged in? CHARGE! If you set it to charge based on rate, when my HOME rate changes at 10 AM to "peak", the Volt stops charging at work.

    My recommendations are a bit more complex than that, but a lot of the issues could be fixed with location profile. Or more simply...."at home" or "not at home" would be a quick easy fix.

  •  Ninth: build a less-cramped Volt. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado, Calamity Jean

    Calamity Jean considered the Volt when looking for a new car the past year. Spiffy car, but too damned cramped.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 09:50:00 AM PST

  •  Disappointed in Volt roominess (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado

    Finally got to sit in one and it was . . . snug.  Honda Civics feel more roomy - especially in the back, where there are only two bucket seats.

    My whole family tried the car and even my 10-year old said it was too cramped for her legs in the back seat.

    It was certainly cocoon-like in the driver's seat, as well.

    I've been saving for a car similar to the Volt, so I figure it will be for a future electric car model that is not exactly the current year style being shown (if it's going to be a Chevrolet at all).

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 09:58:46 AM PST

  •  Had my 2013 since Oct 2012... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado

    #'s 2,3 & 4 have been fixed in the 2013 version.  Agree that freaking front air dam broke on day 1 and just want it gone.
      I only have to charge at home, but I can see the utility of a light in the port socket- great idea!

    Kinda bummed I couldn't move my subwoofer into the back, no additions to the electrical harness allowed.  Bass provided is passable only, not stellar.

    Wasn't told EV mileage can dip in cold weather, my max charge has varied between 32 and 42 miles, a bit of a surprise, but after a bit of the Google I found out that was normal- just not told at time of sale/shopping.

    Overall---
    Totally love my Volt, take in on the highway and all over town, getting about 120 mpg overall, about 175 mpg on normal weeks w/o out of town travel.  Have a Blink charger 240v in the garage, cost $81 to install after $400 subsidy from research grant. Full in a few hours!.

    “Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.” - George Carlin

    by LoneStarLefty on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 10:23:59 AM PST

    •  157 mpg over all. I was over 800 till I drove it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      across country. I normally only use the electric. The engine starts up when it is very cold. Filled up only once this past year.

      Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

      by joelado on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 10:46:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good write up.. and for some humor (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado, Major Kong

    The Volt is an interesting concept vehicle that I think will continue to improve through the model years.   We keep looking for smaller, more portable cheaper and more energy efficient vehicles.

    It's the way it goes.

    Though not quite this far

    (I still laugh ridiculously at this)

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 10:44:56 AM PST

  •  When the tax credits end the price will come down (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado

    The car companies are pricing these such to take your tax credits from you.  As soon as the credits end, the price will drop dramatically.

    Of course they will claim the tech advances are responsible for the drop.

    •  I think they probably see this through greedy (0+ / 0-)

      eyes. However, the price is too high to make it a gang buster best seller. However, the Volt sells more than 50% of all makes. Its sales are at a trajectory that is greater than those when hybrids were introduced. For all of the far wing complaints about the Volt, the Leaf and other plug-ins, they are making their way into the market place at a more than acquit rate. Chevy seems to reach much higher sales, sales similar to what they predicted, when they offer a $6,000 rebate on top of the government incentives. That means that the price should be at least $6,000 less than it is now and $13,500 less when the incentives are removed. By that time GM should be able to do this with volumes up and prices of the cost of parts and materials comes down.

      Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

      by joelado on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 12:50:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would like a mini-van version (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joelado

    With a boxier back end to hold larger square things like paintings.

    Why oh why can't you get that here in the US? I bet a bunch of people would love it.

    Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 12:31:45 AM PST

    •  Your wish is going to be answered soon. Check this (0+ / 0-)

      out!
       photo chevy_volt_mpvtop_zps5ac36a71.jpg

      Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this comment?

      by joelado on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 07:03:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's getting better, but still prefer more boxy (0+ / 0-)

        We have a Honda Element, which is really nice. If they can get something like that going, it would be useful for us.

        Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

        by splashy on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 02:59:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Plug-Out Inverter (0+ / 0-)

    The natural feature for a Chevy Volt is a 30 amp export inverter.

    If you could use a Volt as an emergency power supply for your house or for field work, they would sell like crazy.

    How many people lost power for days or weeks post Derecho, Post Sandy, Post Quake....

    Being able to have critical power would be a big deal.

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