2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012Enlarge Photo
We think that's unlikely; the Volt hasn't yet proven that it can sell in high enough numbers to justify two different battery pack designs.
Whether the new Volt battery pack can be redesigned, rearranged, and repackaged to permit a fifth seat isn't known now--but we're betting it's one of the top program goals.
Will there be a five-seat "tall Volt," closer in format to today's Ford C-Max, like the Volt MPV5 Concept shown in China in April 2010?
Possibly...but not right away. We think GM has to sell many more Volts a year before it considers separate body styles.
2013 Chevrolet Volt
2013 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
Like its lines or not, the Volt today has become a recognized shape.
According to Edmunds, the designers will evolve that shape rather than replace it--now on top of GM's new Delta 2 compact-car architecture.
We'd like to see a taller window line and more side glass, eliminating the hokey black-plastic panels that visually lower what are actually quite short side windows.
Or as one GM body designer told us, the Volt looks the way it does because it's essentially a Chevy Cruze firewall and crash structure with a roof chopped 4 inches
Regardless of what we want, however, expect the next Volt to have a recognizable shape evolved from today's car.
We're betting it'll also have LED running lights and probably even headlights.
Not only have they appeared on many large trucks and sport utility vehicles from GM, they're now found on the Cadillac ELR range-extended electric luxury coupe that shares Volt technolgy.
Lithium-ion battery pack for 2011 Chevrolet Volt
GM will likely stick with its existing lithium-ion cells from its current battery partner, LG Chem--though refinements to chemistry and production technology could well increase the energy capacity of each cell.
But Voltec engineers may also be able to use more of the battery's pack total energy capacity, known as "opening up" the pack's state-of-charge range.
Today's Volt has a battery pack of 16.5 kilowatt-hours, of which it uses only 10.8 kWh--or 65 percent.
That's a sensibly conservative amount, and gives GM a healthy margin to ensure battery life in older Volts. But it's also lower than the usage in many other plug-in electric cars, especially battery electrics.