Published on April 14th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro


GM Working On Chevy Volt With Shorter Range & Lower Cost

April 14th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Gas2.

Chevrolet Volt Concept 2007

In an effort to boost sales and find a wider appeal, a lower-priced, shorter range version of the Chevy Volt is reportedly planned. With GM investing $450 million into the Hamtramck factory where the Volt is built, the automaker is doubling down on a plug-in hybrid that has seen sales stagnate even as competitor sales surge.

The Volt has already undergone a $5,000 price cut, and when you apply the $7,500 tax credit, the price comes down to $27,500. But that tax credit is already about a quarter used up, with Chevy selling over 58,000 Volts of the 200,000 that government will subsidize. So even if sales have stagnated, it will only take a few more years before that tax credit disappears.

Enter a shorter range, cheaper Chevy Volt with fewer features, a new look, and a starting price at or under $30,000. While the standard Volt is good for up to 38 miles of all-electric range, a cheaper Volt might make due with 25 miles or less, like many competitors do. The Ford C-Max Energi is rated at 21 miles, and the Prius Plug-In switches over to the gas generator after only 13 miles. The Volt has the most all-electric mileage of any hybrid under $40,000, but that hasn’t helped sales in recent months.

Meanwhile, competitors have copied the Volt’s design but with smaller batteries and lower costs, and the results have been promising. While the Volt remains top dog in overall sales, the number of other options has eaten into GM’s dominance of the market. A cheaper alternative with wider appeal could be the way to go…though there have also been rumors that GM is working on a Volt with 200 miles of pure electric range as well.

So which is it? Less range? More range? Both? We probably won’t find out until sometime next year, though GM could still surprise us next week at the New York Auto Show. Keep your fingers crossed.

Source: Reuters

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • jeffhre

    Don’t have access to a plug?

  • bobbleheadguru

    Other source (Edmund’s I believe) indicated that the Low Priced Volt would have same range as current model with a lower price. A NEW Volt would have a larger range (60 miles+).

    • Mike

      And if that’s the case, that’s great!

  • Mike

    No GM, you’re going the wrong direction *facepalm. Shorter range? Shorter than the pathetic 40 miles? So basically, here’s your 37mpg gas electric car. Seems better to buy a VW Jetta diesel with 42mpg. Go electric or go home.

    • bobbleheadguru

      How is 40 miles (actually 38 miles) “pathetic”?

      Name ANY other car that can match this:

      125MPG, 360 miles of total range (with no range anxiety, because you can fill it up at ANY gas station OR any electrical outlet), 273ft-lbs of instant torque (more than a base BMW 3-Series, yestertech gear driven torque), 100MPH top speed, 900 miles between fillups, $150/month in fuel savings (including cost of electricity) v. average car.

      The car is PERFECT for a specific sweet spot, those with commutes around or below its per charge range. Turns out 70% of American drivers fit this sweet spot.

      Does the Volt HAVE to match the needs of the rare drivers that have to drive 200 miles per day? NO, in my opinion. Are you one of those rare people?

      • Mike

        No. It’s moving in the wrong direction. There’s already a small battery on board which you need to charge daily (average commute in US is 37 miles a day). With this smaller battery you will almost assuredly need to use the on board gas motor, which running to charge your battery gives you a whopping 37 mpg. So, this is good for people who want to buy more gas, that’s it. I have a full electric ford focus and haven’t visited a gas station in over a year. It’s a great commuter car. The volt had a perfect nominal battery for an average commute to go on oure electric. Of course, one could guess that the oil companies wouldn’t be too happy about this, so Government Motors releases a version with a more ‘economical’ battery. But, I’m no conspiracy theorist 🙂

        • Bob_Wallace

          Think about the word “average”.

          There was a time in my life when my daily commute was about eight miles. Some people wouldn’t need to charge every day with a 38 mile range.

          I’m sure there are people with closer commutes than that.

        • bobbleheadguru

          Here are some points to consider:

          1. My effort to plug in my Volt = 8 seconds per day. About the same as getting a bowl and spoon out of the cabinet for Cereal every morning. Not sure where the burden is. AND if I forget, I still can get to work on gas as a backup unlike a pure electric car.

          2. 37MPG is AFTER Volt drivers have used up their battery. Turns out that the average literal MPG (as in the actual miles of gasoline per gallon that Volt driver’s on average get) is 125. That tells me the car was designed perfectly for its users.

          125MPG is so close to “infinity” (what a pure EV gets) in terms of costs, it is about the same as getting a double mint mocha at Starbucks every week.

          For that cost, I have ZERO range anxiety. I can drive 300+ miles anywhere I want and I can fill up at any gas station in 5 minutes.

          It is impossible to practically drive a Focus EV from Detroit to Chicago. On the other hand, I can drive a Volt every day for my 55 mile roundtrip commute AND drive to Chicago anytime I want on the weekends.

          3. All that being stated, it is doubtful that the battery range will go down. Edmunds already got more info about the next gen that the new Volt will get more range and the current version will still exist as the economy version.

          • Mike

            After 40 miles of pure EV driving, you’re using the gas engine to (not very efficiently) charge your electric motor. At that point your effective mpg goes down to 37. That doesn’t seem very practical to me. Sure, if you charge it daily, it’s great but with a 200 plus mile drive you might as well buy a diesel (no need to battery disposal in the long ru and it’s 47mpgn). It’s not about how long it takes to plug in a car that’s the problem, it’s using gas (pollution) to charge a battery (clean but difficult dispose). To me it’s better to buy a diesel if you’re driving far and use electric as a commuter car. Of course, everyone would love a Tesla but they’re not affordable for everyone yet. It’s a moot point if GM continues the same, or larger battery size. I think going any smaller is not a good choice of action.

          • mortisier

            I agree that the gas range is not sufficient compared to the best hybrids and I feel that GM needs to work on the MPG before increasing battery range. However Bobbleheadguru is right, the facts dont lie most people just dont drive 200 or more miles in a day, its extremely rare, like less than 1% of the time. This is evident in the 125 MPG fleet average. We drive our Volt to Minnesota and back on the freeway from Seattle every year opportunity charging when we can and when mixed with our daily driving habits we are averaging 76 MPG a full 25 miles better than my father in laws Prius does on its best day. P.S. the Prius barely gets 46 MPG at freeway speeds. My volt gets a solid 39 at 75 MPH. Oh and by the way my other car is a Leaf.

          • Mike

            I’m driving a Ford Focus EV. Other car is a Prius which at the time was the best fuel economy around. Not so much anymore. I’m confused about your mpg. You say it’s 75 MPG then say it’s 39 MPG? Is it just 39 on the freeway without battery? The original point of my post was to question the reasoning behind GM’s reduction in their battery back. This still makes no sense to me. I suppose my views are tainted by a company that would choose to destroy their own EV-1 product in the 90s because of ‘demand’. I hope GM can prove me (and many others like me) wrong.

            I suspect the EV movement is just in the beginning phases. Sometimes I feel we are just drops in the ocean, but as they say, the ocean is made up of many many drops.

          • mortisier

            The Volt provides you with an onboard lifetime MPG reading as well as does On star. This is the total miles driven electric and gas divided by the total gallons of gas burned. We are averaging 75 rising every day but lower than the fleet average of 125 because of our unusual annual road trip that most Americans do not take. When on a road trip driving between 75 and 80 MPH in range extended (battery depleted)mode we get between 37 and 39 mpg.

          • mortisier

            The plug in Prius was actually designed to meet the needs of the average one way commute with the caveat that one would plug into a common and plentiful 120 volt wall outlet at work and be fully charged by the return commute home. I think there is some merit in this design theory to meet the driving needs of the lower half of the nations commuters, while I believe 20 mile all electric range would be preferable for commuting plus errands!

          • jeffhre

            200 miles? Yes that’s “only” going to be 46.25 MPG, if charging only at the first leg of a 200 mile drive. How many drivers have a 200 mile commute?

    • jeffhre

      40 miles a day is 14,600 miles per year. Buying a Jetta because 40 miles is low (pathetic), means you miss out on 14,600 miles of not burning any gas or diesel at all.

  • sault

    GM will need to balance range and price to be competitive with the Plug-in Prius and C-Max Energi. People also knock the Volt for cheap interior and the fact that the back seat only sits 2 instead of 3. Personally, this isn’t a big deal for me, but many people have strange reasons for why they buy one car over the other. Also, if it is just easier to get a Volt compared to a Plug-in Prius of C-Max because they just make more of them, then they will still have a winner on their hands.

  • Jim Seko

    Having an electrified product at every price point is good business. I also expect an optional longer range Volt and a crossover to fill in between the ELR and the premium Volt. That would make five PHEVs at different price points. The CUV might be a Buick.

  • Will E

    Forget gas, go all Electric.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I suspect we will. Just as soon as we get more affordable batteries.

    • Jim Seko

      I have a Nissan Leaf and a Chevy Volt. I spend $20 per month on gasoline compared to $300 per month with my old gas mobiles.

    • sault

      They did this with the Chevy Spark EV. The reviews are mostly positive and it could be a good competitor with the LEAF, but GM is not looking to make them in large numbers.

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