Three years ago this month, GM launched the Chevy Volt as an “extended range electric vehicle, though most people refer to it as a plug-in hybrid. But the next-gen Chevy Volt really could be an EREV with up to 200 miles of range per charge, if soon-to-retire CEO Dan Akerson’s comments have any amount of truth to them. Dare we hope?
In a multi-page interview with Businessweek having to due with his legacy and successor, Mary Barra, Akerson says that GM is aiming to build an electric car with a 200-mile range, as well as room for a on-board generator. That would be impressive enough even at the Volt’s current price point, but Akerson also said that the goal price is $30,000. Whether that includes tax credits or not, the piece doesn’t clarify, but with a target date of 2016, we should see the new face of the Chevy Volt in the next year or so.
Perhaps GM plans to take the Tesla approach, and offer multiple battery size options, or they could be modeling the next Volt after the BMW i3, making the range-extender optional. Akerson says that the next Volt is going to be a “moonshot” with the aim to “surprise the competition.” Akerson is also the guy who wants the Cadillac ELR to compete with Tesla, only to have Consumer Reports (and pretty much everyone else) call it way overpriced. Yet just months earlier, GM slashed the price of the Volt by $5,000, reminding me all too much of how Old GM always seemed to be going in opposite directions.
But with Akerson on his way out, so he can pretty much say whatever at this point, and most people aren’t going to pay attention. A 200-mile, $30,000 EV with an optional generator really could surprise people; you’d have a hard time arguing against the economics of such a vehicle, and it’d hit the market a full year before the Tesla Model E. Then again, it isn’t the first time Akerson has talked of a 200-mile EV though, so the surprise might already be spoiled. Surprise or not though, it sounds extremely promising.
GM’s moonshot could be a homerun.