You don't start the engine in a 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

Instead, you "power up" the car by pressing a button with the universal computer power symbol on it.

Once the Volt has gone through its bootup routine, complete with tones and chimes, the button glows blue and you're ready to roll on electric power.

But the relative silence of electric mode--the engine is off whenever the car's stopped, unless you open the hood--means that you could forget that your car is powered up, step out, walk away ... and leave it switched on.

2011 Chevrolet Volt drive test, March 2011

2011 Chevrolet Volt drive test, March 2011

For hours.

The folks at fancy-schmancy car magazine The DuPont Registry did just that, accidentally.

What happened? Not so much.

2011 Chevrolet Volt: 5 Things We Like - 5 Things That Puzzled Us - 5 Things We Don't Like

They accidentally left the car powered up, but locked, overnight.

When they returned, the 8 miles of remaining electric range had disappeared, leading them to think the car had depleted its battery and then periodically switched on the range-extending engine to recharge it a bit.

They point out that leaving a car running and unattended may be a violation of various state or local laws.

2011 Chevrolet Volt dashboard

2011 Chevrolet Volt dashboard

During our Volt road test, we parked the car in a neighbor's driveway to recharge and then remote-started it from our house.

That lets it condition the cabin (heating or cooling it, as needed) using grid electricity rather than drawing down the battery.

But now we wonder: Since the Volt (as well as several other General Motors vehicles) offers drivers the ability to start it remotely, does that expose those owners to a ticket?

[DuPont Registry]


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