By on January 20, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

(Update: Fred Ligouri from Chevrolet Communications confirmed GM is aware and is currently investigating.)

One Bolt owner thinks Skynet may already be here.

Fresh off its North American Car of the Year victory (despite being classified as a crossover) and just days ahead of its official media launch next week, something strange happened in Southern California.

This owner alleges his Bolt turned itself on, selected reverse gear, and backed into the work bench in his garage. The incident happened with the car shut down and in Park, both keys in the house, and the owner nearly 40 miles away on business in the family’s third vehicle.  

There are no kids in the household, and his wife was inside when she heard a loud crash from the garage. The cynic in all of us wants to accuse the missus of lying, but the owner is adamant his wife has no interest in the Bolt and is happily in love with her own car.

The owner readily admits the car was parked without using the Bolt’s electronic parking brake, as he hasn’t used one for 40 years.

“I did not press the P (parking brake) button on the left side of the shifter.

I did this:

1. Hold the brake pedal down.
2. Press the button on top of the shift lever to shift into P (Park).
3. The P indicator on the shift lever turned red when the vehicle went into P (Park).
4. Turn the vehicle off.
5. Exited vehicle, and the vehicle’s horn sounded and the doors locked.”

In a later post, the owner writes that when his wife went out to the car immediately after the crash, the doors were locked and the dash was dark. When she opened the doors and pressed the power button, the Bolt showed itself as being in Park.

The Bolt is Chevrolet’s first use of General Motors’ new Electronic Precision Shift system. Like other by-wire shifters, it digitizes user control over gear selection — Park essentially being an electronic command to the transmission from the top mounted button. It’s possible that a fault could have occurred there, but there are nearly 40,000 Cadillac XT5s in American driveways using a similar system without any glitches.

GM reps from Michigan have been in contact with the owner, a case has been opened, and arrangements are being made for GM’s engineers to fly out and inspect the Bolt’s black box data.

We reached out to Chevy for a statement but have yet to hear back.

[Image: General Motors]

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72 Comments on “California Man Claims His Chevrolet Bolt Took Itself for a Ride...”


  • avatar
    OldManPants

    At least they have Bolts where he lives.

    “The cynic in all of us wants to accuse the missus of lying”

    There are more accurate terms than “cynic”.

  • avatar
    mleclerc19xx

    It is a Chevy after all, what did he expect?

  • avatar
    JimC2

    What a coincidence! Know who else is from California? Prius Man, that’s who.

  • avatar
    phxmotor

    What RFi is present? Not unlikely. (?)

  • avatar
    Krivka

    I am calling bullshit on the story. Let’s see what the computer says.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    How is the bolt a crossover?!

    Let’s hope whatever this is, it gets found and fixed quickly, so it doesn’t tarnish the Bolt’s rep with the public. The bolt is the first affordable EV with reasonable range, it doesn’t need to start with bad press.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      something tells me if this was a Model 3 you wouldn’t be starting with the assumption that something is actually wrong with the car.

      One of the comments on the forum Michael linked said what I was thinking: “I hate to be the guy to say it but that sounds a bit like a kid claiming ‘I don’t know how that cookie jar fell out of the cupboard…’. Even if it’s true, it still sounds suspicious.”

      that number of faults occurring to cause that, all at the same time, is highly improbable (but obviously not impossible.) Slipping out of park I could see, but turning on, shifting out of park into reverse, and accelerating on its own? Yeah, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

      • 0 avatar
        orenwolf

        You don’t know me very well if you think that. I want this segment to succeed, if only because it will help accelerate a better charging infrastructure. I may not personally like the bolt’s styling but I certainly don’t want it to fail!

        If this is a hoax, I’d love to see it resolved quickly as well. Though, I actually hope it’s NOT a hoax – do you remember all the Toyota unintended acceleration garbage and how long that dragged on for, mainly because in the vast majority of cases, it was user error? It’s way, way easier to say “yep, issue found and fixed, all good now” then to spend months trying to prove that something wasn’t wrong in the first place, and the guy was lying all along.

        We don’t need a narrative of “Bolt is beta” “Bolt was rushed” “Bolt’s tech is unsafe”. Either there’s a shifter problem and it needs fixing or the guy reporting the problem needs to come clean.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          “We don’t need a narrative of “Bolt is beta” “Bolt was rushed” “Bolt’s tech is unsafe”. Either there’s a shifter problem and it needs fixing or the guy reporting the problem needs to come clean.”

          I’d say between the Volt and the Spark, GM knows their way around an electric vehicle. Better than most IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            orenwolf

            I’d tend to agree. With the possible exception of Toyota, they’re probably the best equipped major manufacturer to be in that space.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            LG collaborated with GM the Bolts design and supplied many of the components. I also have a lot of respect for GM’s EV engineering expertise because of the Volt. Combine that with LG’s expertise and involvement and I’d expect the Bolt to be a really solid design. With two separate engineering teams in different companies watching each other, I would not expect many problems with that car.

            I’d place my money on it being the driver. I could be wrong, but I’d be really surprised if it was a vehicle defect. I own an EV and you really have to be sure it’s turned off. I can see where someone new to EVs could make the mistake. I get a warning if I exit my car while it’s on, but if someone was new to the vehicle and/or distracted, they might miss the beeps.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “You don’t know me very well if you think that.”

          I only know you by what you post here. if this involved a Tesla, you’d assume user error. Since it involves a GM product, you assume the car is at fault and something needs to be fixed.

          • 0 avatar
            orenwolf

            Well, that’s plainly not true if you read my posts on the Autopilot collisions. I specifically and pointedly said that if Autopilot wasn’t behaving or doing what Telsa said it was, they should be held to account. The NHTSA has cleared them. That’s fine. I honestly hope GM can be cleared of any issues here too, or that they can fix it quickly.

            I get there there is a LOT of Us versus them on the boards here. I’m sure it in no small part has to do with all the divisiveness currently present south of the border. But I don’t want a *particular* EV to “win”, I want *EVs* to scale up and prove effective – all of them – because I genuinely would prefer a world without smog, where every car leaves home fully “fueled up” and parking spots are also refulling depots. All while the cars are actually capable of some performance and spirited driving still, and preferably also able to drive themselves so my grandparents can be independently mobile without relying on public transportation or the livery industry.

            It so happens that I believe Tesla, as well as widespread availability of affordable 200-mile-range EVs in general is how we get there at the moment. But if the Bolt is how we get to widespread EV adoption instead? That’s perfectly fine with me too. A rising tide lifts all boats, you see.

            Not everyone here is partisan and interested in seeing a single victor, in any category.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            yeah, I’m sorry, that was way too presumptuous of me to say.

            “It so happens that I believe Tesla, as well as widespread availability of affordable 200-mile-range EVs in general is how we get there at the moment. But if the Bolt is how we get to widespread EV adoption instead? That’s perfectly fine with me too. A rising tide lifts all boats, you see.”

            quite true. without Tesla there wouldn’t *be* a Bolt.

      • 0 avatar
        ranchero_collectivo

        I’d lend (ever so slightly) more credence to this kind of thing happening with a Bolt; since the computer in it would have more direct control of the vehicle’s movement due to the electric drivetrain, a software bug could potentially tell the motors to just “run, escape my sons”, workbenches and garages and the park setting be darned.

        But your cookie-jar-on-the-shelf theory is definitely more probable than mine.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Occam’s razor

  • avatar
    mtmmo

    GM being GM.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “It’s possible that a fault could have occurred there, but there are nearly 40,000 Cadillac XT5s in American driveways using a similar system without any glitches.”

    My guess is there is a variation or new revision of the system in place for Bolt vs Epi XTS.

    “Park essentially being an electronic command to the transmission from the top mounted button.”

    Yes because gear selection was such a problem we had to improve upon it. Let’s see it nailed Chekov, maybe next time we can get one of the terrible cast of the new Star Wars movies.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @28-cars-later: Yes because gear selection was such a problem we had to improve upon it.

      When there are no gears to select, how do you design a mechanical gear selector? In an EV you don’t need a reverse gear. You can just spin the motor in a different direction.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      ….Yes because gear selection was such a problem we had to improve upon it….

      Well, I’m in agreement that us users have no problem with a traditional shifter, but such an arrangement uses dash/interior space and requires a mechanical linkage. From a manufacturing point a view, this is more costly to produce. No doubt the transmission (on a conventional car of course)is delivered from the supplier with the actuator already installed. Assembly is now just an electrical connection. Contrast that with fishing through a mechanical connection, attaching it on on/both ends, and making sure it is adjusted correctly. An electrical solution has none of those issues even if the hardware itself costs more. Labor saving more than makes up for it. So, yeah, not an improvement for us but certainly for the manufacturer.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    7 comments so far, 3 of which are just noise in the system.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “We reached out to Chevy for a statement but have yet to hear back.”

    Well duh, they haven’t figured what did or didn’t happen themselves. What did you expect?

    HIGHLY doubtful the car started itself up went into reverse, figured out it crashed into something, put itself back into park and shut itself down. Unless the guy named it Christine.

    Was it plugged in? Try getting my Volt to move when it’s plugged in.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, that’s what journalists are supposed to do – give the other party at least a chance to comment.

      Fairness thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “GM reps from Michigan have been in contact with the owner, a case has been opened, and arrangements are being made for GM’s engineers to fly out and inspect the Bolt’s black box data.”

        Hard to make a comment w/any substance on something you haven’t had a chance to investigate yourself.

        • 0 avatar
          mtmmo

          “Hard to make a comment w/any substance on something you haven’t had a chance to investigate yourself.”

          That’s never stopped CNN.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @Carlson Fan:

          Journalism major here.

          In cases like this, you put the story out and let the other side comment. If they don’t respond, you run it and say they haven’t responded yet.

          Once they respond you update the story. That’s particularly easy to do in the digital age, and even easier on a blog site like TTAC. Just update the original story or add a new one with the other side’s response.

          If GM had responded with “we haven’t had a chance to fully investigate yet, so we have no comment,” that’s fair enough. So, the story is, “car owner alleges his car took off on its’ own and the manufacturer is investigating.” At that point, the audience makes its’ own mind up.

          But you generally don’t just sit on a story until the other side responds. If you operate this way, then the other side can just never respond. Therefore, the story never gets printed. The loser is the readership.

          That’s the way it works. Nothing irresponsible or off about that. Now, if TTAC hadn’t tried to contact GM, I’d have cried foul.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        The Fairness Doctrine was shot down in Congress some 20 years ago. That’s why news agencies (both legitimate and ‘fake’) have been able to report what they want with total disregard to the truth.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but, I believe, that’s not what the Fairness Doctrine was about. it had nothing to do with what was reported, just that radio and television stations had an obligation to make airtime available for opposing views.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      “Was it plugged in? Try getting my Volt to move when it’s plugged in.”

      It would be interesting to find out – one would assume that there are multiple “safeties” involved (like an unoccupied driver seat).

      Edit: My 2015 Volt has a parking pawl, and won’t start if it’s plugged in – hope I’m safe. It has “Remote Start”, but not “Remote Drive” (thanks), but if someone uploads some Roomba code into it, it may start running people down looking for its charger :-)

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        I know from experience sad to say. You’ll never get the shifter out of park unless you pull on it hard enough to physically break it. So don’t worry about ever doing it with your Volt.

        I can start my 2013 if it’s plugged in. Do it all the time. But it won’t shift out of “P”

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          “I can start my 2013 if it’s plugged in”

          Shoot – I remember now – I did that once, and the DIC pops up a message about it – normally, I unplug it (as I have to duck around the cord to get in the car – I have it suspended from the roof trusses) before I get in.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        The mainstream (legacy) media have always had their own agendas. For example Hearst creating a cause for the Spanish-American War.

        However they historically did have some accountability and did use ‘fact checkers’. The stories were slanted but not invented.

        Now we have what appears to be a disregard for the truth among the alternative media. Rather than merely mislead or influence, they can just make things up or make baseless comments or accusations.

        And much of the public does not seem to care. They only want to believe what they want to believe.

        From a Reporter who covered Rob Ford during his term as Mayor of Toronto. “The Star learned, with Ford’s crack tape, that 21st century readers won’t believe serious allegations unless they can watch the video or see the document themselves — and maybe not even then. After reporters from the Star and Gawker wrote about viewing the recording, but didn’t have it, many Torontonians refused to believe it existed. Now, when anyone can watch it on YouTube, there are still doubters. Whether people care (see Trump’s “grab” tape) is another matter.”

    • 0 avatar

      “HIGHLY doubtful the car started itself up went into reverse, figured out it crashed into something, put itself back into park and shut itself down. Unless the guy named it Christine.”

      Well, when you put it THAT way, it does seem pretty unlikely. I was hoping this article was about a car that took itself out for a driver-less drive around the neighborhood (maybe to work off some stress?), then mis-judged the distance when pulling into the garage. But that would be ludicrous.

      Right?

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Autonomous cars running through red lights. Crashes killing people. Cars being hacked into. This is just the beginning. We were at a Toyota/Ford dealer a few months back in the front row on a Sunday. While looking at some brand new Priuses one started itself up out of the blue. Nobody else was around, the dealership was closed and it just sat there running at idle for the full 15 minutes we were there. An hour later we went back and it was still running. We dropped into the dealership the following morning to let them know this and the car was off. The salesman was as shocked as we were as he said nobody was on staff other than a cleaning person late in the evening. They found the car shut off with barely any gas left. How did it start itself up?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      it was probably inadvertently left on, and the gas engine fired up to recharge the traction battery.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “it was probably inadvertently left on, and the gas engine fired up to recharge the traction battery.”

        That’s my guess. My Volt sat running in a parking lot too when I first got it. It honked trying to tell me, hey dummy I’m still on with the heat running, what are you doing locking the doors & walking away with the fob? It would have eventually kicked the ICE on all by itself if I’d left it sitting long enough. The person that parked that Prius more than likely wasn’t experienced with it.

        My money is this is operator error (99.9% chance) or something unique with that particular Bolt.

      • 0 avatar
        Thinkin...

        “it was probably inadvertently left on, and the gas engine fired up to recharge the traction battery.”

        Absolutely. If the headlights were switched off, it would be easy for a dealership employee to raise an eyebrow at the warning honk when they left the car on, and then simply head inside and hang the key up.

        That said – the bit about the gas tank is neither here nor there. A Prius with a full tank can be left on for days and days, and will just occasionally idle to charge the traction battery. Fuel consumption at idle is almost negligible, unless the A/C or heater was on MAX.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          my experience with most push-button start cars I’ve been in is that they’ll automatically stop the engine and shut off if left on for more than- say- 30 minutes w/o moving.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “it was probably inadvertently left on, and the gas engine fired up to recharge the traction battery.”

        What gas engine?

        Ah. You’re talking about that Prius. What I get from reading this forum bottom to top.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Yes, this is the beginning and not a moment too soon.

      As long as “the end” of increasing autonomy in cars kills fewer than the ~30,000 people per year that meatbag drivers currently do it will be a win.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Judgment Day!

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Man, I wish excuses like this for garage mishaps had been plausible when I was a teenager.

    I swear mom, it just drove itself into the wall…

  • avatar
    zip94513

    GMotor Trend car of the year!

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Here’s what we know:

    A car collided with a work bench in a garage.

    Here’s what is wild-as$ speculation:

    Everything else.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “Here’s what is wild-as$ speculation:

      Everything else.”

      Nope, it’s a GM vehicle so it has to be the cars fault. Just like when one of the first 2011 Volts was charging in a garage that started on fire. Oh, wait a minute.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Are you positive he does not have a teenager?

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I can easily see two possible, if remote, circumstances where this might have happened. Keep in mind that, as far as we know, the Bolt is the first GM car that accepts OTA (over the air) updates, similar to Tesla’s cars.

    A) A signal, whether intentionally or not, may have come across the home’s WiFi network that triggered this event. It may have been intended as a software update from Chevy or it could have been a hacking attempt by unknown third parties.
    B) A signal, whether intentionally or not, may have come through the recharger, assuming an authorized recharger and not a simple 220V dryer connection.
    C) A signal may, almost certainly unintentionally, have been “butt-dialed” by the owner’s smartphone and gone undetected by said owner at the time, assuming the owner chose to install a monitoring and control app from GM onto said phone.
    C2) If said smartphone were using a notoriously less-secure operating system, said signal may have been caused by unknown third parties having accessed said owner’s personal information from said smartphone.

    Yes, I know I said “two possibilities” but the third possibility with its modifier came to me while typing and I wasn’t going to interrupt my thought process to correct the original statement. This is that correction.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      well, the simplest explanation is that some meatbag screwed up, and is trying to either save face or try to get a payout from GM. After Joshua Brown’s death, look how many people claimed their Model Ss crashed due to Autopilot or “sudden acceleration.” I think in each case Tesla was able to determine it was operator-caused.

      to me, that’s an order of magnitude more likely than some unknown source commanding the car to power up, take itself out of park into reverse, and start moving.

      • 0 avatar
        hgrunt

        Also brings to mind the guy in California a few years ago who called 911 claiming his prius was accelerating even though he was trying to brake. Of course, he wanted to sue Toyota…but under investigation Toyota could find no problems. The engine turns off if brake and throttle are applied at the same time, and if the throttle was stuck open and he tried to brake, it was seize the engine, due to how the hybrid system physically works. The guy had also recently filed for bankruptcy too…

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    In other news the NHTSA closed its investigation into whether the Tesla Auto Pilot went all blinded in a white sky and crashed into a white 18-wheeler killing the operator of the vehicle.

    They concluded that not only was auto pilot not at fault, but could find no flaws in the system.

    But I’ll keep eating the popcorn because there is nothing the B&B like better than a good ‘ol GM hatefest.

  • avatar
    z9

    Not entirely related but I saw a Bolt in real life yesterday at LAX. Looks better than I thought it would. Nice blue color, and the taillights are pretty cool.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    In any scenario where you have to choose between human error/lying or a machine fucking up in inexplicable and irreproducible ways, the smart money is on the human error/lying.

  • avatar
    TheEyeballKid

    My wild speculation is a) the wife is lying – she rammed the workbench (hates the car? the workbench? the husband? who knows) and made up the story about the bolting Bolt, or b) the workbench fell over onto the Bolt and someone (wife or husband) said the Bolt hit the workbench because s/he wants GM to pay to fix it. That, or the car was hacked and remotely controlled by someone with a nefarious scheme against GM/electric cars/workbenches/that guy and/or his wife.

    • 0 avatar
      ktm

      See, I was thinking the same thing about the wife. Why did it take 20+ comments to get this stated. Of course she would lie. Wasn’t me, it was the car! She probably was trying to move it out of the garage and moved it into reverse.

      Folks, when in doubt, it is usually the simplest answer.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I wondered if the bench jumped out and struck the Bolt.

      • 0 avatar
        TheEyeballKid

        The Register has photos of the car and workbench intertwined, which look to invalidate my second theory (the workbench moving toward the Bolt instead of the other way around). Why doesn’t TTAC have photos? http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/01/20/chevy_electric_vehicle_comes_alive/

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yeah that’s the way these types of things usually happen. My wife loves to tell the story of her brother and his driving skills when he first started driving and he frequently had objects like posts and mail boxes “Jump out in front of him”.

  • avatar
    shaker

    “the story about the bolting Bolt”

    It happened… January 19th, 2017…

    We-Are-Farm-Ers

    Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb!

    :-)

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Obama saved GM, built the Volt and everyone knows what happened next, it destroyed the economy. Trump is going to get it right by cancelling the Bolt and bringing back the Chevrolet Monte Carlo Brougham d’Elegance. I’m reserving mine with the optional pillow-topped Seats.

  • avatar
    NomNomChomsky

    “GM reps from Michigan have been in contact with the owner, a case has been opened, and arrangements are being made for GM’s engineers to fly out and inspect the Bolt’s black box data.”

    I thought these had OnStar. They don’t automatically start a review of the data via the OTA connection after a crash? I find it hard to believe they have a data connection sitting right there and they can’t pull it over the air like Tesla.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      AFAIK OnStar’s diagnostics are limited to things like code scans. GM is going to have to actually pull logs from (I think) the restraints control module. That is, if there are any. AFAIK the RCM only stores state if it orders airbag deployment.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    wouldnt the black box be able to tell if the doors were ever opened, the car unlocked, the seat sat in? im thinking it should, since there are sensors in every other car that could tell those things.

    shouldnt be too difficult to figure out.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    It’s not Christine! It’s Christine’s millennial ancestor, Christina.


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