Five years after the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Volt, it appears General Motors is ready to bring plug-in hybrids back to its North American lineup.
The news was reported by several sources following the automaker's quarterly and 2023 earnings call—including CNBC, which cited comments made by GM CEO Mary Barra during the call. GM's quarterly shareholder letter doesn't mention plug-in hybrids, but the report claims Barra confirmed plans for them in remarks to investors.
"GM remains committed to eliminating tailpipe emissions from our light-duty vehicles by 2035," Barra reportedly said, referencing a goal GM first discussed in 2021, "but, in the interim, deploying plug-in technology in strategic segments will deliver some of the environment or environmental benefits of EVs as the nation continues to build this charging infrastructure."
2019 Chevrolet Volt
Barra did not discuss specific details other than that certain models would get plug-in hybrid powertrains to meet anticipated stricter emissions standards, CNBC noted. But it's still a significant course change for the largest U.S. automaker.
GM pioneered plug-in hybrid powertrains with the Volt, launching the original version for the 2011 model year and bringing out a second generation for 2016. But GM discontinued the small hatchback in 2019, citing concerns over the cost of building plug-in hybrids, as well as low anticipated demand. That same year, GM president Mark Reuss said customers didn't want more hybrids of any kind.
In 2020, Reuss doubled down, saying in an interview that plug-in hybrids didn't make sense for GM's lineup—especially for North America. Reuss also called hybrids of any kind a stopgap, claiming they were slowing the vertical integration of battery manufacturing necessary to scale up EV production.
2019 Chevrolet Volt
Yet the legacy of the Chevy Volt seems to be overall a positive one. GM sold more than 150,000 Volts between late 2010 and 2019, and it had enviable owner demographics, bringing new people to GM. It's still seen as a tech trendsetter that the company essentially abandoned—even with a crossover counterpart in development at one point.
While not specifically mentioned by Barra, a Volt-like model would also be a perfect fit for upcoming California emissions regulations. Starting with the 2026 model year, the state is asking for 50-mile plug-in hybrids—something the Volt was already able to achieve in its second-generation form.