In an effort to boost sales and find a wider appeal, a lower-priced, shorter range version of the Chevy Volt is reportedly planned. With GM investing $450 million into the Hamtramck factory where the Volt is built, the automaker is doubling down on a plug-in hybrid that has seen sales stagnate even as competitor sales surge.
The Volt has already undergone a $5,000 price cut, and when you apply the $7,500 tax credit, the price comes down to $27,500. But that tax credit is already about a quarter used up, with Chevy selling over 58,000 Volts of the 200,000 that government will subsidize. So even if sales have stagnated, it will only take a few more years before that tax credit disappears.
Enter a shorter range, cheaper Chevy Volt with fewer features, a new look, and a starting price at or under $30,000. While the standard Volt is good for up to 38 miles of all-electric range, a cheaper Volt might make due with 25 miles or less, like many competitors do. The Ford C-Max Energi is rated at 21 miles, and the Prius Plug-In switches over to the gas generator after only 13 miles. The Volt has the most all-electric mileage of any hybrid under $40,000, but that hasn’t helped sales in recent months.
Meanwhile, competitors have copied the Volt’s design but with smaller batteries and lower costs, and the results have been promising. While the Volt remains top dog in overall sales, the number of other options has eaten into GM’s dominance of the market. A cheaper alternative with wider appeal could be the way to go…though there have also been rumors that GM is working on a Volt with 200 miles of pure electric range as well.
So which is it? Less range? More range? Both? We probably won’t find out until sometime next year, though GM could still surprise us next week at the New York Auto Show. Keep your fingers crossed.