We’re often told that electric cars will help us cut greenhouse gas emissions, save us money on our monthly fuel bill, and perhaps even help us power our homes in an emergency. They’re also incredibly fun to drive, require very little maintenance, and yes (we’re going to go there) make you feel like you’re living in the future.
But one U.S. Chevrolet dealership has found yet another great reason to drive an electric car, or at least a 2015 Chevrolet Volt: you can use the on-board 4G LTE data connection as a back-up Internet connection if your home Internet connection goes the way of the dodo.
As Automotive News (subscription required) reports, Buff Whelan Chevrolet in Detroit recently found its entire showroom ground to a halt when its cable Internet connection stopped working. As with any modern business, Buff Whelan’s lack of Internet meant that it couldn’t send important email, communicate with customers, or check inventory.
It also meant that customers who had come in to arrange lease payments or find a finance quote couldn’t proceed with their purchase, since there was no way of connecting the dealership to the outside world.
Then Matthew Oleszczuk, one of the new sales team on duty that day remembered that the 2015 Chevrolet Volt — like many other new cars on the market — comes with optional 4G Internet connectivity, allowing drivers and passengers a way of connecting their tablets, portable games equipment and laptop computers to the Internet on a long trip. And unlike other Chevrolet models where leaving the car in accessory mode for a prolonged period of time would eventually drain the 12-volt accessory battery or require the engine to run, Oleszczuk realised all he needed to do to bring the dealership back online would be to plug the showroom Volt into a charging station, turn the car on, and share its LTE connection with the rest of his colleagues’ machines via WiFi.
A few moments later, with help from a Chevrolet Malibu outside the dealership also sharing its Internet connection, all of the dealership computers were fired up and surfing the Internet as usual.
“We were laughing because the signal was as strong or stronger than when we’re running our internal network,” Oleszczuk said.
As well as providing the dealership with Internet, the two cars — especially the Volt — became a unique selling tool, with buyers getting to see first-hand how the range-extended electric car’s on-board Internet connection could be used as a backup Internet connection.
“One lady asked why the Volt was on, and we told her that our land line was down and the 4G connection was keeping our network going,” Oleszczuk said. “She thought that was pretty impressive.”
Of course, the Chevrolet Volt isn’t the first plug-in car to offer Internet sharing via an on-board 3G or 4G connection. Nor is it unique in the way its WiFi sharing works. But if like us, you use the Internet for everything from checking your bank balance to chatting with friends or family, playing massive multiplayer online games or just watching a good movie on Netflix, you’ll know how horrible it is when that very first-world problem of a broken Internet connection rears its ugly head.
We’re pretty sure Internet tethering capability won’t necessarily change your purchase decision when buying your next plug-in car because after all, most modern cellphones come with Internet tethering as standard. But if you’re the kind of person who likes to have multiple levels of redundancy or really does need to live completely off-the-grid when the lights go out in a major storm, perhaps it’s something that you should at least consider.
Have you ever used your car’s Internet connection in an emergency? Or perhaps you’ve run your house from your car’s battery pack to keep the lights on when all your neighbours are stuck in the dark.
Leave us your electric car survival stories in the comments below — even if they are as fluffy as this particular story.
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