GM’s Reuss: Next-Generation Chevy Volt to be “Even Better” and “Thousands” Cheaper

5 years ago by Eric Loveday 21

It'll be "even better" in second-generation form.

The Chevy Volt is far from dead, according to General Motor’s North American president Mark Reuss.

Despite lower than anticipated sales, Reuss told reporters at the Automotive New World Congress on Wednesday night that the “electric car is not dead” and that General Motors won’t give up on plug-in vehicles.  Proof of this was in the Detroit Auto Show unveiling of the extended-range Cadillac ELR.

If you recall, GM fell a couple thousand units short of its target of 10,000 Volts sold in 2011 and then ditched its goal of selling 45,000 in 2012, though Volt sales did indeed soar to 23,000-plus units in 2012.

The Cadillac ELR is described as luxury evolution of the current Volt.

Reuss told conference-goers that GM “couldn’t be happier…with the Volt” and promised that the next-generation Volt will be “even better.”  In some way, this marks GM’s first official announcement that the next-gen Volt is coming, though we all knew its was in the works.  Last year, GM’s vice-chairman Steve Girsky spoke at this conference, telling the crowd that the automaker needed six months to figure out whether or not the Volt would ultimately be considered a success.  Well, GM now considers it successful.

Reuss added this forward-looking statement:

“We will see the day when we have an affordable electric car that offers 300 miles of range with all the comfort and utility of a conventional vehicle. We’re talking about a transformation here. And transformation takes time.”

Then there’s this bit of information (though we doubt some of its accuracy about the Volt’s platform) from USA Today’s DriveOn:

General Motors’ plug-in electric Chevrolet Volt will get “thousands” cheaper when the time comes for its next generation, a top GM executive says…. the next Volt will be purpose-built. That will allow the ability to better package the batteries and other specialized components, says Mark Reuss, president of GM North America… if it is purpose-built, there are “thousands of dollars that can come out of it.”

Why are we skeptical?   Well, word is that the next-generation Volt will use General Motors’ currently in-development global compact platform, referred to right now as D2XX.  This platform will debut first on the 2015 Chevy Cruze.  This is not a purpose-built electric vehicle platform.  But maybe we’re wrong…or our interpretation of what is meant by “purpose-built” isn’t the same as USA Today.

 

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21 responses to "GM’s Reuss: Next-Generation Chevy Volt to be “Even Better” and “Thousands” Cheaper"

  1. taser54 says:

    Well, the bottom line is the Volt will be one of 12 nameplates that will use the new Global Compact platform. This platform will combine crossovers and compact cars. So, the bright side is that shared components and engineering will lower costs dramatically AND a shared platform guarantees that a Voltec Crossover is going to appear.

    1. Brian says:

      Having a shared platform far from “guarantees” a Voltec Crossover.

      1. taser54 says:

        Your comment adds nothing to the conversation.

        1. Brian says:

          It added more than your response 😉

          1. James says:

            Taser’d have to have a bit more cred to “guarantee” anything
            from GM. A Crossover is a possibility, always has been – but
            nothing from GM has even hinted that it is a probability.

            So Taser54, did you speak out of turn, or perhaps get a bit
            ahead of yourself, or can you back up that statement with
            a bit of fact?

            1. taser54 says:

              As this is a comment thread, I put forth an opinion based on facts that we know now. I stand by it. Personally, I don’t care if you or Brian believe it. I do find that simply dismissing my opinion and/or questioning my credibility as a poster is poor form and adds little to the conversation.

  2. ClarksonCote says:

    My understanding is the D2XX platform was designed with electric vehicles in mind, whereas the existing platform was not.

    1. Schmeltz says:

      Yeah…I don’t see the news of the Volt vers. 2 sharing a common platform as necessarily a negative, either. That being said though, if I were GM and I was doing an All-Electric, I would do the “Skateboard” platform concept they introduced several years ago.

      1. Open-Mind says:

        Agree completely. GM introduced the skateboard concept in 2003, and now a decade later it’s’ still gathering dust. Meanwhile, Tesla is selling Model S vehicles built on that same concept.

        To me this smells like really good engineers being led by really bad management.

        1. James says:

          From your lips to God’s ears.

  3. Brian says:

    I’m glad to hear a GM executive refer to the Volt experiment as a success. Unfortunately, I still remain disappointed that they are not expanding their lineup of Voltec vehicles. The ELR is a fine vehicle, but it will do little to expand the market for Voltec – in fact, it will likely always sell in lower volume than the Volt. GM needs to offer this technology across the entire market. I was (not-so-) secretly hoping for a Voltec CUV to be unveiled this week in NAIAS, and am left disappointed.

    I am still hopeful that they will come around. The use of the D2XX platform certain enabled them to more easily produce Voltecs across the line, but it is far from guaranteed. Time will tell.

    1. Stuart22 says:

      What the ELR does is establish Voltec in the premium market segment which puts GM in an area where they will be more able to justify higher prices on innovative breakthroughs in EV technology, and therefore be in a better spot to minimize losses and recoup their costs.

      In simplistic terms — if the cost of a new innovation is, say, $100, introducing it in a Cadillac model that will find 5000 buyers a year if priced at $80 will have a startup cost of $100,000. In contrast, introducing it in the Volt that will find 15,000 buyers a year if priced at $70 would have a startup cost of $450,000.

      Cadillac Voltecs will give GM the opportunity to recoup their investment faster, and put them in a better position to manage the cost/profit issue via a trickle down approach. Will this mean innovation will be more apt to find its way to market? If GM is serious about maintaining the leadership role with EVs, they won’t have any choice but to keep pushing the envelope forward into the future..

      1. Brian says:

        In your example, I assume you mean it adds $100 to the cost of each vehicle, but only $80 to the price of the Cadillac and $70 to the Volt. In this example, the startup cost is more of an opportunity cost than a real one, since you say nothing about the overall profitability of the vehicle. It is my understanding that GM makes money on each Volt they sell.

        The elephant in the room in this discussion is NRE (non-recurring engineering) costs – the cost to develop Voltec in the first place. This money is gone, but it doesn’t have to be paid on each vehicle made (by definition). In this view, it makes more sense to sell a lot of vehicles with Voltec making a modest profit than to sell a limited number of upscale Cadillac Voltec each making slightly more profit per unit.

        I am working with the assumption that applying Voltec to more platforms (CUV as one example) will be significantly less expensive than developing Voltec in the first place. It seems, therefore, that the best way to expand Voltec is to take advantage of the D2XX platform to do just that. That still requires will and direction to do so.

        1. Stuart22 says:

          My point is, GM is in a better position to manage the cost/profit relationship with Voltec in their premium priced division. It’s a better place to introduce new breakthroughs when costs are at their highest because they can more easily get away with charging a high price. GM won’t be as dependent upon high volumes to justify bringing a breakthrough to market, and therefore there is less risk of getting burned by lower than anticipated sales.

          As time goes by, a market history on that new breakthrough builds up, with the result being that planning and forecasting costs and sales become more precise and reliable. When it is determined an increase in volume will bring about positive results in profit, in competitive advantage, etc., the trickle down factor will come into play with the Volt.

    2. Schmeltz says:

      I think you are right to be skeptical of GM regarding a Voltec CUV. But I think there is some momentum in that direction. This upcoming D2XX architecture is said to be the new platform for not the next Cruze, and the next Volt, and also the next Equinox. A Voltec CUV, whether it be an Equinox variant, or some separte model altogether, would seem a feasible possibility.

      Another thing to consider would be the plug-in Saturn Vue in 2009 that was to later surface again as a Buick CUV after the bankruptcy, seems to have disappeared altogether. It was supposed to be very far along in the developement process, and then we never heard anymore about it. My personal theory is that GM found it to be too expensive, and didn’t want to muddy the waters so to speak with a differing hybrid philosophy than Voltec. So quietly the powers that be probably cancelled the program, and decided to pursue rather a Voltec CUV now on the same common architecture as the Volt and Cruze.

      I have no proof of any of the above by the way. Just guessing.

      1. Schmeltz says:

        Meant to say “..not only the next Cruze, and the next Volt..”

        I need an edit button some days.

      2. Herm says:

        The 2 Mode transmission on that Saturn Vue got modified/simplified and became the electric transaxle used in the Volt and ELR, externally they look identical.. there is no reason Voltec cannot be applied to another Saturn Vue sized vehicle besides the larger battery being more expensive.. you could do it at Volt’s price but range would probably be below 20 miles. Batteries are continually getting cheaper so wait a bit.

  4. evnow says:

    I think manufacturers are shy of introducing plugin crossovers because the range & the mpg will be smaller for the same battery size. We all get that – they should just make those vehicles anyway.

    BTW, in December, US market for CUVs was larger than any other segment (including mid-size cars, which is usually the lagest segment).

    1. Brian says:

      I tend to agree, unfortunately. This is the same reasoning that hybrid CUVs have not arrived in force, and when they are available, they haven’t sold well. The thing that kills me is that a Ford Escape Hybrid saves more gasoline over the normal Escape when compared to say the Toyota Camry Hybrid versus non-hybrid. But the MPG number misleads people.

      I would love to see a 25-mile range, 30MPG Voltec CUV. That should be achievable with the same 16kWh battery. Even better if they bump the battery size to compensate.

  5. Open-Mind says:

    “We will see the day when we have an affordable electric car that offers 300 miles of range with all the comfort and utility of a conventional vehicle. We’re talking about a transformation here. And transformation takes time.”

    One could argue that day is here today in the form of Tesla’s Model S. Sure it’s expensive, but not much more than other cars in its performance category.

    GM needs to decide if it wants to be a leader or a follower. The transportation industry is at a historic point of transition to electric propulsion. Similar in magnitude to the buggy-to-auto or steam-to-diesel transitions. There is a huge leadership opportunity for companies willing to make bold decisions.

    Currently it seems like only Tesla and Nissan want to be those leaders. They sound like GM did 5 years ago … aggressive products, aggressive plans, moonshots, etc. The rest are playing it safe or just waiting to see what happens. I’m a little disappointed that GM has fallen back into that category. GM could offer a 4-second electric Vette or Solstice. They could have a 6-passenger Volt wagon by now, or a Volt SS. They could be doing what Lutz and Via are doing. Instead they did the ELR. Aside from its great looks, the ELR is just a low-volume, upscale Volt coupe with a Cadillac badge and bumped performance.

    Oh well … I still have my hopes up for the Spark EV. Wish it looked less frumpy, but at least the specs are great.

    All JMHO.

  6. Mark Hovis says:

    According to the studies, the US market will not see it’s first million EVs for 6-8 years. If this is true, all the manufactures are moving accordingly. This seems like forever but it is not. Only $5+ gas or battery technology selling for less than $200/KW will alter the course. I would have predicted $5+ petrol by now had fracking not forced its way into the mix. Expect to see both of these changes in 6-8 years which will further dictate the industry.

    The good news is that the transportation industry is at a historic point, the EV industry has begun, and there is no turning back now. As for GM with the Volt, ELR, and Spark? Three EVs in the first three years is hardly reason to declare them uncommitted. Of course I am as anxious as the next guy too.