2013 Chevrolet Volt
2013 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
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.
Rumors of two different versions of the 2016 Volt, however, were firmly denied by the Volt project team during the powertrain preview.
While many Volt owners say they want 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, that doesn't appear to be in the cards, at least right away.
We think GM has to sell many more Volts a year in the basic model before it considers any additional body styles.
2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012Enlarge 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--though it will now be built on top of GM's new Delta 2 compact-car architecture.
Those underpinnings will be used for the upcoming 2016 Cruze compact sedan, and many other models to follow.
2016 Chevrolet Volt sneak peak for owners, Los Angeles, Nov 2014Enlarge Photo
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.
Last month, however, GM released a few teaser shots of the 2016 Volt, which followed an artful shot of the new tail released in late summer.
We'll see the rest of it in January.
2016 Chevrolet Volt - first teaser image, Aug 2014Enlarge Photo
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 possibly 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 technology.
2016 Chevrolet Volt powertrainEnlarge Photo
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.