A peek inside the Chevy Volt

It's cheaper than other electric cars, and it's going to be loaded with software.
Written by Deborah Gage, Contributor

GM is showing off its new electric car this week at Google I/O -- Google's annual developer conference in San Francisco -- in honor of the Volt's new Android app.

Soon you'll be able to use your Android phone (or your iPhone) to have GM locate your car in case it's stolen or you forget where you parked it. GM will be collecting data on your car -- tire pressure, fuel economy, the state of its charge, whether you forgot to plug it in -- and send you updates on your phone.

You'll be able to use your phone to schedule a charge, ideally at night when power prices are lowest,  and, with the proper security clearance (a pin), remotely start your car. That way the car will be warmed up when you're ready to go and you won't waste battery power, which in the Volt will carry you for the first 40 miles.

There's enough software in the Volt to give people who worry about hacking (see my post yesterday on the security researchers who hacked a car) pause. GM OnStar's Nick Pudar said that while he believes these researchers committed "a serious crime," he understands their point and GM takes security seriously.

One area where GM is being cautious is voice recognition, he said -- it has to be good enough that drivers aren't distracted. Addresses are easier to handle than points of interest because they're more concrete.GM is also consolidating all the different voice recognition and bluetooth and other applications it's used over the years to make its car systems work better together.

The Volt is due in the fall and is likely to get a good test because it may sell for under $40,000, according to sources close to GM. That would make it one of the most affordable electric cars so far.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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