I think it's fair to say we haven't heard much from the Chevrolet Volt in a while. These days, its upmarket version the Cadillac ELR has driven much of the conversation, and not always for the right reasons. But General Motors announced a new Volt will debut at next year's Detroit Auto Show. What's it's deal?
Besides the teaser image you see above, and the announcement of the new Volt's debut itself, GM didn't say much. But we know it will continue to be an extended-range electric vehicle (or hybrid if you think that's more appropriate) like the outgoing Volt. We know this because GM touted the setup's benefits over pure EVs:
Volt owners are driving more than 63 percent of their overall miles in electric vehicle mode, collectively logging more than 500 million gas-free miles since the Volt's retail debut in 2010. That has saved more than 25 million gallons of gasoline.
While the driving range in EV mode can be affected by temperature, driving technique and terrain, the ease with which Volt drivers are avoiding gasoline use demonstrates the Volt's suitability for almost any lifestyle.
We do know GM is working on another pure EV, but this isn't it. Probably not, anyway, unless an all-electric Volt is coming.
Back to what we know about the next-gen Volt. In 2013, then-GM CEO Dan Akerson said the car would be $7,000 to $10,000 cheaper than the current one. He also said he wanted 200-mile range electric vehicles, which if applied to the Volt would mean a huge, huge boost over the outgoing model's 38 miles.
According to supplier sources, there may also be a second, cheaper version of the Volt in the cards with a smaller battery pack and less range. And based on the spy shots we've seen, the next Volt should sport a sleeker, less compromised design than the current one.
Odds are, as with most modern GM cars lately, the next Volt will be vastly better than the one it replaces, which was by no means a bad car at all — just kind of an expensive and awkward-looking one. I think that if they do it right, they have the chance to expand the Volt into a whole family of vehicles and take the fight to the Prius in a way they haven't been able to before.
We'll find out come January.