What We Know About the Next Chevy Volt

Source: GM
Source: GM

Everyone’s excited to see the next generation Chevy Volt, but so far, details have been hard to come by despite the company’s tendency of parading official GM-branded teasers like the one above. And the mechanical specifications? Entirely elusive.

“If it were up to me it would be a shoebox driving down the road,” said Lionel Perkins, GM camouflage engineer (which is a pretty cool job title). “The design team wants us to cover more of the vehicle and the engineering team needs to have enough of the vehicle’s weight and aero exposed so that the tests in the development process are consistent with the product that will come to market.”

Despite the best efforts of Mr. Perkins and the rest of GM’s staff, we’re finally getting some juicy details. A new video of the next Volt has been released, showing it driving on ice in its camouflage shroud. In addition to the new visuals, we also know that the Volt will formally be unveiled early next year at the North American International Auto Show, and that it will come with a slew of new features and mechanical abilities — including the ability to run on regular fuel.

That means the Volt will require a new internal combustion engine, right? Yes, and word is that the 2016 Volt will house a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, which is just a tad bigger than the first-generation’s 1.4-liter four-cylinder. Other news regarding the new and improved drivetrain concerns its construction, which will apparently be moved back home to Detroit from Mexico, where it had been previously taking place.

So, what’s behind all the big changes? Consumer feedback and demand, it seems. GM has seen sales of the Volt slow considerably, and that has caused the Chevy brass to take customer’s complaints to heart. After all, with a whole slate of electric and hybrid vehicles on the market, what’s stopping customers from consumers from seeing what Toyota has at dealerships, or Honda?

The biggest gripe that consumers apparently had with the Volt was that the cost needed to be dropped by a considerable amount. GreenCarReports says that General Motors’ management has said previously that the goal was to drop the price by around $10,000, but it’s unclear what exactly the next-generation’s sticker will read. Right now, the Volt comes in at a rather hefty $35,000, while some competitors can be brought home for considerably less. For example, the Toyota Prius is about $10,000 less, and Honda’s Accord Hybrid is around $5,000 less than the Volt, though not for the plug-in variants.

A drop in price of around $10,000 would put the Volt right into the mix with these other consumer favorites, and allow Chevy to better compete in the hybrid and EV market. With 2014 set to be the second-straight year of falling sales for GM, it’s looking like high-time the company took some rather drastic measures to get units moving off of dealers’ lots.

In addition to the mechanical details we’re learning about, it also appears that the new Volt will have a longer range, be more powerful, and of course, get an aesthetic makeover. Another big addition? A rumored fifth-seat, which apparently is another thing that had turned consumers away, and toward more accommodating vehicles. Again, this will all be unveiled soon at the NAIAS.

There’s no doubt that the Volt needed some work, and that Chevy’s management needed to set a lot of wheels in motion to make sure that the second-generation was superior to, and more affordable than, the first. If the details we’re seeing are any indication, they’ve managed to pull it off, to some degree. The question going forward, once the new Volt hits the market, will be whether or not consumers give the Volt a second chance. With so many options out there — and more on the way — the Volt has gotten lost in the shuffle.

It may not have more than one more chance to make a good impression.