All-wheel drive is an increasingly popular option among buyers in virtually all segments of the automotive market, partly driven by surging sales of small crossover utility vehicles.
But is Chevrolet developing an all-wheel-drive version of the new 2016 Chevy Volt range-extended electric car it'll introduce next month?
The company has renewed its trademark on the CrossVolt brand name, according to a recent report in Autoblog--leading to speculation that a future vehicle in the Volt range might offer AWD.
The prefix "Cross" is frequently used to indicate a raised and sturdier-looking version of an existing model, or a new and more utility-oriented model in an existing lineup, especially in Europe and Asia.
2016 Chevrolet Volt sneak peak for owners, Los Angeles, Nov 2014
Volkswagen, for example, offers a model in Europe called the CrossGolf that's effectively a taller five-door hatchback body with more ground clearance that's built on standard Golf underpinnings.
While the new 2016 Volt appears to be a fairly low hatchback design--as was its predecessor the 2011-2015 Volt--Chevy's application to renew the model name may indicate that a similar approach is in the wings for a future expansion of the Volt lineup.
It has persistently been rumored that Toyota may offer all-wheel drive on its all-new, fourth-generation 2016 Prius hybrid hatchback when that model is unveiled sometime next year.
And just as the traditional Prius Liftback model was joined by other models in an expanded Prius lineup, a CrossVolt might give the Volt range an entry in the popular compact crossover utility vehicle segment.
Way back in April 2010, Chevy showed a concept car called the Volt MPV5 that was essentially a five-seat Volt tall wagon or crossover utility.
2011 Chevrolet Volt MPV5 concept, Unveiled at 2010 Beijing Motor Show
The Volt MPV5 appeared only at that year's Beijing Motor Show. But it has continued as a reference point among Volt owners and fans to show how Chevy might add a model that could prove greatly appealing in a very popular market segment.
Development "mule" vehicles were also spotted testing last summer for a taller vehicle that appeared to be using the Voltec powertrain, with bodywork adapted from that of the Chevrolet Orlando tall wagon sold in Canada but not the U.S.
The trademark renewal, of course, could also be simply a standard filing like dozens of others filed by automakers every year--including many model names for which actual cars never appear on the market.
Meanwhile, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt five-door compact hatchback will be formally unveiled Monday, January 12, at the Detroit Auto Show.