General Motors confirmed today that it will show its next-generation Chevrolet Volt this January at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Want to know how much it will cost, or EV range, or see details and specs? According to GM Spokesman Randy Fox, GM regretfully declines to offer more than a teaser photo. The company has not even said when it will go into production, and did not confirm it will be a 2016 model year as has been conjectured by industry watchers.
Instead GM issued a press release noting the news of the Detroit reveal was already publicly divulged this week at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefings.
The automaker’s focus is otherwise on accentuating positives for the existing Volt, which are many as indicated by an infographic it issued, but the car has only caught on so far in the marketplace.
Among plug-in vehicles, the “extended-range electric” Volt is yet tops, having sold more than 65,000 copies in the U.S., but sales have been flat or declining compared to previous years.
Not helping the issue is GM has nearly given up pushing the car in national ad campaigns. It told HybridCars.com in Detroit this year the Volt is relegated to niche status, and GM is essentially resigned to this.
One impasse seems to be public perception, or put nicely, lack of full comprehension as to the value proposition the Volt could offer.
The Volt was developed as a car with close to 40-miles all-electric real-world range to meet the study’s estimates of what three-quarters of Americans need for daily driving – and it was intended as a Toyota Prius beater.
Now late in its life cycle, having received two upticks in battery kilowatt-hour capacity, its 17.1-kwh battery may do that, but GM did not re-certify the 2015 with the EPA. The car started life with 35 miles EPA-rated range, in 2013 increased to 38, and the present 2015 may be better, but that GM didn’t bother re-certifying the car is a big hint its days are numbered.
And it actually does what GM said it would. With available discounts and incentives now offered for the $35,000 car, the Volt may net out less than a Prius Liftback in the low-to-mid 20s, but even as late-in-life Prius Liftback sales are falling off too, Toyota’s non-plug-in hybrid sells about six for every one Volt delivered.
Speculation has meanwhile been all over the map regarding what’s next for Volt. Will it get up to 60 miles EV range as former CEO Dan Akerson has suggested? Will it get a smaller 1.0-liter turbocharged range extender? Will it cost less? Will GM de-content the car or otherwise cheapen things not immediately perceptible?
In short: Will the engineers and marketers of a company making its bread and butter from conventional tech actually improve the car? Will it be enough, or another hit-or-miss?
For its part, GM promises this and more automotive electrification, and predicts more people will be buying its electrified cars, be they other models, or the Volt.
But the Volt is the premier product, if you don’t look at the Cadillac ELR floundering with low sales, and needing heavy discounts.
“Volt is the perfect example of the ingenuity that drives everything we do at Chevrolet,” said Global Chevrolet Chief Marketing Officer Tim Mahoney. “Volt fully delivers on the promises of Find New Roads and will continue to provide consumers with the transportation solutions they need and deserve in the future.”
Alternative energy enthusiasts can only hope GM delivers on its word, which for now is little more than promises in general, and mum on specifics.