2016 Chevrolet Volt To Have Lower Electric Range, 30 Miles Or Less?

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2013 Chevrolet Volt  -  Driven, December 2012

2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012

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News Flash: The next Chevy Volt will have less electric range than the current one, perhaps no more than 18 to 30 miles.

Or perhaps not.

We suspect that a comment by Thomas Sedran, GM's vice president of strategy and operations, is going to be one of those off-hand remarks that creates far more havoc and confusion than intended.

As quoted in the British magazine AutoExpress, Sedran suggested that 18 to 30 miles was "enough to get you in and out of town," after which the range-extending engine could kick on for any further travel.

He was referring to the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera, effectively a Chevrolet Volt electric car with different front styling, sold under the Opel brand in continental Europe and the Vauxhall brand in Great Britain.

The 2013 Chevrolet Volt has an EPA-rated electric range of 38 miles, after which its engine kicks on to generate electricity that will carry it another 300 or so miles.

We reached out to General Motors to ask if Sedran's comment was true. We got back a wordy but generic statement that didn't address the question:

GM is always looking at the needs and expectations of our customers around the world in future product planning. Voltec technology found in the Ampera and Chevrolet Volt is the leader in providing alternative solutions to our customers.

Not only are they the most satisfied owners, but the technology has demonstrated how electric vehicles make sense for today's customers. We have no future product announcements to make at this time.

Michelle Malcho, from the Volt Communications team, added that because she hadn't been part of the event where Sedran made his comments, she had a hard time placing them into context.

2011 Chevrolet Volt plugged into Coulomb Technologies 240V wall charging unit

2011 Chevrolet Volt plugged into Coulomb Technologies 240V wall charging unit

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But, she added, "I wouldn't read too much into his comments."

Our perspective is that while GM engineers are undoubtedly hard at work on the next-generation Volt/Ampera/ELR, core decisions like battery-pack capacity may not yet have been fixed.

With lithium-ion cell costs falling 6 to 8 percent a year, the battery pack in the 2016 Volt will be considerably less expensive than that of the original, launched in December 2010 as a 2011 model.

And second-generation Voltec cars will be produced in higher volume, leading to efficiencies of scale that further lower costs.

It's also possible that GM might opt to offer more than one battery-pack size, as Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] already does in its Model S electric luxury sport sedan.

2013 Chevrolet Volt, Catskill Mountains, Oct 2012

2013 Chevrolet Volt, Catskill Mountains, Oct 2012

Enlarge Photo

After all, company product lead Mary Barra said last November that GM would downplay hybrids to concentrate on Voltec range-extended electric vehicles--meaning a bright future for the Volt and its relatives in the General Motors product line.

In the leadup to the first Volt launch, an earlier generation of Volt engineers had said firmly that 40 miles was the right distance to maximize electric range which keeping costs contained. Future Volts, they said, would retain that 40-mile distance but with smaller, cheaper battery packs.

Sedran, by the way, is a turnaround specialist who joined the board of GM's European Opel/Vauxhall unit just a year ago.

According to GM, he is an automotive expert who "spent most of his career as a consultant at companies including Roland Berger and AlixPartners."

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Comments (25)
  1. If that is the case, they would be wise to give you the option of how much electric range you would like to have with your Volt. Kind of like Tesla does with their Model S. Three options 30,45 or 60 miles of battery range. And I hope the make the ICE quite a bit more efficient than the current one.

  2. To quote Bob Lutz from Charged Up! the 2013 edition of Plug In America’s annual consumer guide, “Lithium sulfur, half a decade away, will store five times the energy of today’s lithium ion. That would take the Volt to about 200 miles of range.” I have a hard time imagining GM reducing the all electric miles in light of advancing technology and dropping battery prices. Chevy should address these rumors before they get out of hand. I can only imagine how Fox News would spin this.

  3. Exactly, and there's a lot of potential advancements the general public doesn't know about yet. GM's upper management seems clueless and they've continually mishandled the Volt in almost every way. It's amazing that the Volt team was even able to produce such under GM.

  4. Where is that quote from, what interview? It really isn't on Google.

  5. Oh wait, I just googled 'lithium sulfur bob lutz' and got info about it, but not that exact quote.

  6. I think it's more important that the VOLT have a plugs out inverter mode,first.

    That said, if you could buy the Volt at different range points, 20, 40,60 and it came with a 6 KW inverter with a plugs out capacity, I think it would sell like hotcakes.

    Not that GM listens to me.

  7. A 20 mile Chevy Cruze "e-Eco" would be nice with 5 seats.
    Then the Volt with 40 AER.
    Then something like "Volt Touring" with 60 miles AER. Or stick in 60 miles of battery in a larger Malibu platform (already being made at Hamtramck anyway, stick bigger Voltec in it).

  8. They'd better drop the price by 10 grand if they do that, and offer larger packs as options. We want more range, not less.

  9. So, Mittar, you want GM to double the loss it already faces on each vehicle sold by dropping the price. Then GM can increase sales significantly, right?

    Uh, aren't you missing the profit part of the equation? Yeah, I'm sure GM is just dying to triple sales at a much lower price point and increase the financial losses by several factors.

    You're also assuming that this is correct info from GM. It's simply not and GM is not planning to reduce the range. Fun to watch people overreact to a vague comment by someone who isn't even involved in the development work itself, too. Hint: he's in operations, not vehicle or system development. Big clue there... GM not even being aware of his comments or context, another big clue, of course.

  10. Gotta agree with Mittar on this: More all-elecric range, not less. I bet a significant portion of Volt owners pick the Volt over the Plug-in Prius precisely because the Volt has 40 miles of all electric range. The PIP is, frankly, a joke for those of us who want to be able to say 90% of my miles are all (solar) electric miles -- and there are a lot of us like this. So, GM had better not go to a smaller pack, or it will lose potential customers, including this one.

  11. I plan to purchase a Volt once my Leaf lease runs out (2016) But only if the electric range doesn't drop below 40 miles. Sedran is a typical automotive "expert'.

  12. The only reason that I would see GM reducing the EV mile to 30 miles is to add a 5th seat to the back. That reduction would allow GM to shrink the battery pack enough to accomendate the 5th seat. There are few C-Max Energi buyers and Pip buyers that "require" to have the 5th seat.

    Personally, I would think that is a BIG mistake. I would trade off additional seat for longer EV miles.

    I actually like the bucket seat of the Volt. It is far more comfortable than the bench seating that is currently available in the C-Max Energi and Prius Plugin.

    I would like to see a 60 miles Volt in 2015. Of course, if GM doesn't, then I will be gladly to buy a competitor's choice. So far, Volt is outselling PIP and Energi b/c its EV range...

  13. Another good thing about the volt is that it is American made. PiP fully imported and much of the CMax in Mexico.

  14. @John: Not quite sure what the Mexico reference is for the C-Max; it's built in Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, MI.

  15. Who cares where the car is made? It's trade, so for everything we import, we have to export something else. The question is just what products will be the mix. This is basic trade 101. If we could just import, and not export, we should just print rectangular pieces of paper (dollars), sit on the beach all day while having all of these gnomes abroad send us stuff expecting nothing in exchange except paper.

  16. Possibly the dumbest comment I've ever read on trade. No, Anton, contrary to your bizarre claim, "for everything we import, we have to export something else" is just nonsense.

    Not true in any sense at all. Importing the Prius does not magically create exports from the U.S., of course. Prius imports do not create exports in other markets, of course.

    Jobs do matter to some people, Anton. And "basic trade 101," as you put it, clearly isn't among your strengths at all. I personally worry far more about where a vehicle is developed, not assembled, since that's actually where the money is, but you're severely confused by very basic enonomics.

  17. Nonsense. They won't drop the Volt down to the competition's ev range... a battery choice? That would be smart.

    MrEnergyCzar

  18. I'm hoping for at least 50 miles EPA rated AER or better. Less than that and I may as well keep my regular Prius and buy an EV from Ford or Nissan. I'd love to have the Fiat 500 EV, but sadly(?), I don't live in CA.

  19. I just want a fifth seat! That said it would be taking a step backwards especially knowing that gas prices will only get higher... the point of car sales is to sell the car, not make you think about it... personally if they do bring down the range then i would just head out the door and into a Ford and buy a Fusion plug in.... less miles but more comfort, and in my opinion better looking.

  20. If Sedran was reffering to the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera, surely there is another possibility: the next generation Ampera and Volt could have greater differentiation than the current generation, and could have different electric-only ranges.

  21. Yeah, if it costs $22k.

  22. I always enjoy when you make up ridiculous numbers, johnny. Keep dreaming, it's what you do best. Let me guess, the 3-series should be $20K, the M3 should be $30K, etc... See, I can make up meaningless prices for vehicles that make n

  23. Oops... Meant to type, "meaningless prices for vehicles that make no sense, too...

  24. Doubtful.... no way they would drop down to the closest competition in terms of initial ev range..

    MrEnergyCzar

  25. Any rumors on incorporating wireless charging?

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