2014 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
Ask an electric car owner what improvements they'd like to see in the next generation of the model they own, and nine times out of ten you'll get the same responses.
"More range", they'll probably say. "A lower price" is the other--even if you can afford an electric car, who wouldn't want to pay a little less?
Chevrolet Volt owners can add a third factor to their list, according to General Motors (via Automotive News): A fifth seat.
As it stands, Chevy's range-extended electric car is a strict four-seater.
The car's lithium-ion battery pack is arranged in a T-shape that runs the length of the cabin and puts a large divider between the rear passenger seats. And that means the usual fifth seat of a car in its class is not an option.
Since the Volt made its debut in late 2010, GM has paid close attention to owner feedback.
Most of that feedback is probably positive--until the Telsa Model S came along, owners had ranked the Volt top of Consumer Reports' satisfaction survey for two straight years. In 2013 it ranked third--behind the Tesla and Porsche's Boxster sports car.
But Volt owners wouldn't mind saving a few pennies from the current car's $34,995 sticker price (after shipping, but pre-incentives). And it wouldn't harm to gain a few miles on the Volt's official EPA-rated 38-mile electric range.
Not that the existing car is doing poorly in this regard. Recent data suggests that Volts have surpassed half a billion miles on all-electric range alone.
Owners do more than 63 percent of their driving on electricity as it is, and travel an average of 970 miles between fill-ups.
That's sure to increase quickly if the next Volt--penned-in for a 2015 launch--offers a greater electric range.
With advances in battery technology and a smaller range-extending engine expected in the next car, it's likely price will decrease too. All that remains then is to see whether Chevy will give customers that fifth seat they desire...