Will GM Have A $30k Range-Extended Tesla Beater By 2016?

As Tesla works toward a new entry-level electric car promised to have 200 miles range, and cost in the low 30s, General Motors says it will too – and it will carry an on-board generator.

The new $30,000 range-extended GM car, reportedly to be revealed by 2016, will benefit from improved batteries, and seems to be identified separately from the Chevy Volt, although GM has revealed tidbits about a much-improved next-generation Volt as well.

“While it will be similar to the Volt, engineers are working on generators that could run on gas, diesel, or natural gas,” wrote Bloomberg in a feature article on the rise of GM and its new CEO Mary Barra.

The revelation about the 200-mile range came from GM’s still-on-the-job CEO, Dan Akerson, and the part about the price and anticipated date came from a “person familiar with the idea” Bloomberg said – or was this Akerson also?

“It’s a project that the company doesn’t want to say much about but signifies how it’s been trying to move past inventing things to putting inventions into showrooms,” said Bloomberg.

Immediately after the purportedly anonymous observation about launch date and price, and the above sentence, Bloomberg transitioned back to quoting Akerson.

“We want it to be a moon shot so we can surprise the competition,” Akerson said.

The production Volt was called a “moon shot” by Motor Trend when it was first introduced.

The article says also that GM in general “remains committed” to advanced electrified vehicles, and Akerson concedes that GM has “failed to change the conversation” about them.

“I’ll take the hit for that,” said Akerson who has expressed admiration for Tesla and this year set up a special team just to keep tabs on the potentially “disruptive” automaker.

As for the generator-equipped EV timed for around or before the date Tesla has said its all-electric BMW 3-Series competitor should be coming, whether it will be cooler than an Audi as is expected of the pending Tesla will be one thing observers will want to see.

Given it’s to be range-extended like a Volt, one might wonder how the Volt will play in GM’s product portfolio, as it and all other automakers approach the ramp-up period for 2017-2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules.

Akerson has suggested the next Volt would have upwards of 60 miles range, presently it starts at $35,000, is due possibly for production-cost cuts – if not also a sales price reduction.

Even if the reported new car is not as avante garde as a Tesla, just its spec sheet would have huge implications. Tesla is shooting for a car that can do 200 miles and cost $30,000 – with some industry watchers wondering if it can – and now does GM want to include a generator with similar range and price?

The present nationwide average new car price is around $32,000. If what Bloomberg reported is accurate, perhaps Akerson is correct: If GM can pull off a car with over four-times the Volt’s present range, for less, that would leave room for more “surprise,” even if it has been told of more than two years in advance.