The first Chevy Volts only just started rolling off of the production line, but GM is already working on a next generation of plug-in hybrids. One loose-lipped executive let slip that a hatchback and five-person MPV would debut around 2015.
Nick Reilly, the head of GM Europe, told the UK’s AutoCar magazine that the second-generation Chevy Volt/Vauxhall Ampera will debut in 2015. By that time, GM will have extended the all-electric range even further (though by how much he doesn’t say). Up until then, GM will import the Vauxhall version from Detroit to Europe but by 2015 they expect demand to be up enough to warrant building the Ampera plug-in in Europe.
GM has already previewed a Volt MPV5 concept (above), and Reilly confirmed that GM was indeed working on just such a vehicle. An extended-range electric family mover makes sense for short runs to the store or longer road trips to visit grandma and grandpa. But Reilly says GM is also planning a smaller Volt hatchback based on the Astra. This could be the performance hybrid I’ve been waiting for. Prices are expected to be between $7,000 and $12,000 more than a comparable car, which still sounds like a lot. Consider though that the Chevy Cruze, upon which the Volt is based, has a starting price is $16,275. The Volt starts at $41,000 (or a $350 a month lease). That’s almost a $25,000 difference between the two cars. The Volt would appeal to a lot more people if it was priced at $26,000 without tax credits.
I’m really hoping if they do make the hatchback, they give it some kind of sporty, performance option. Saving fuel is great, but to win the masses, you must make driving an electric car fun too. GM already discussed the possibility of a Volt SS, and instant torque from electric motors is enough to make any gearhead’s mouth water.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.