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2016 Chevy Volt Coming: A Look Back At GM's Range-Extended Electric Car (News Video)

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The Chevy Volt has been on sale for three and a half years now, and it's never quite lived up to the big expectations that GM and the world had for it.

But this week, the company confirmed that a new 2016 Volt will debut in January, at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

This is Green Car Reports' video news for the week of August 4, 2014.

When the first 2011 Volt was delivered in December 2010, just days after the first Nissan Leaf, it seemed as if a new era was at hand for electric cars.

But muddled marketingpolitical opposition, and even a Volt battery that caught fire several days after the car was destroyed in a crash test added up to some significant hurdles.

The Volt was ultimately exonerated by the NHTSA, but not before GM's then-CEO Dan Akerson was dragged before Congress to explain the fire.

There was even a Volt urban legend, which had to be debunked by Snopes.

2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012

2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012

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Still, its owners love the Chevy Volt, and it has the highest customer-satisfaction scores of any vehicle GM has ever built.

But sales--projected at 10,000 for 2011 and then 45,000 to 60,000 a year thereafter--settled in around 23,000 Volts a year and have stayed there for the past couple of years.

The Volt's had relatively few updates, although its battery capacity has been boosted twice, once for 2013 and again for 2015.

Its electric range is now rated at 38 miles, though its gas mileage when the range-extending engine is on stays at 37 miles per gallon.

But there's been a lot going on behind the scenes in GM labs and studios.

The 2016 Volt we'll see in five months will likely be less expensive to buy--and perhaps even profitable for GM over its model life

Current Volt owners have a clear list of desires: a fifth seat, more cargo room, and more electric range. They may get the first two, but GM is likely to stick with a range of about 40 miles--which is more than four-fifths of U.S. vehicles cover in a day.

The new range extender is likely to lose a cylinder, with the 2016 Volt probably using GM's new 1.0-liter three-cylinder, part of an all-new and more fuel-efficient engine family.

Between now and January, Chevy will likely dribble out more details and teaser photos of the 2016 Volt.

It will hit the market about a year ahead of a new and updated Nissan Leaf, which will offer an optional battery with a top-end range of 120 to 150 miles.

If you're marking your calendar, meanwhile, the 2015 Detroit Auto Show opens to the public on Saturday, January 17.

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