Let The Next Gen Chevy Volt Guessing Game Begin!

3 years ago by Buzz Smith 17

License Plate - "IMBUZZ"

License Plate – “IMBUZZ”

Having worked for Apple for a few years before Steve jobs’ passing, I’ve become somewhat jaded on the “next release news engine.” As the days got closer to an announced product delivery date, the pundits would list the things the new Apple device would be able to do or the features the new device would have. People would come into my Apple Store to see what news I had and what articles I’d seen. This happened for iPhones, iPads, iMacs, laptops, Mac Pros, iPods, Apple TVs, (no, those other Apple TVs…) and the list goes on and on and on.

Some of the guesses were laughable. Some were thought-provoking. Almost every single one was BS.

Future iPhone?

Future iPhone?

Everyone wants news to spread, even when it just does not exist. Everyone wants to be the pundit, to appear to be plugged in and to have advanced knowledge. This seemed especially true for Apple-centric websites. Everyone wanted to chat about America’s favorite gadget or favorite technology company. Even an obviously bogus, death-knell story about Apple would generate thousands of visits, pages and pages of debate and advertising dollars for the sharp-minded hooligans of the interwebs…

*Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Buzz Smith’s “My Electric Vehicle Journey” blog.  Check it out by clicking here.

iPhone?

iPhone?

But no, there’s a new sheriff in town and his name’s Reggie Hammond…er…uh…Chevy Volt.

Chevy Volt Crossover?

Chevy Volt Crossover?

With GM investing $450 million in two plants, everyone wants to guess what features will be on the new Volt. If GM is smart, it will remain completely silent on the issue. Nothing will get the public whipped into a frenzy quite like mystery. As we’ve come to realize, the EV community is already in a frenzy about their vehicles’ cool technology. All it will take is a tiny nudge to start the all-out drool-fest!

Chevy Volt Concept

Chevy Volt Concept

Nissan is starting to say a few things about the next generation Leaf. Tesla is always talking about the future with Gigaplants, Model Xs and the Everyman Tesla… There is a fine line between promoting your new, upgraded product and killing the demand for your current one. Apple definitely learned about this fine line. Apple Store staff gets a feel for impending change as demand for existing products starts to wane, then inventory levels fall, then cooperative marketing firms start the price slashing and then…BIRTH!

Cars, with their MUCH longer development cycles cannot afford for enthusiasm to dry up for existing models while the next is still in development. So, it is in their best interest to remain muted in their announcements of future vehicles.

Chevy Volt Concept

Chevy Volt Concept

Many have said extending the electric range of the Volt, is critical. Odd, because this appears to be where GM did a lot of research before designing the first Volt. They build a vehicle that would handle the commute required by 80% of us. Yes, once we made the jump to a plug-in hybrid vehicle, we wanted to do all our driving electrically. But that’s not the Volt’s mission. Battery range is arguably more important to 100% electric vehicles than it is for a hybrid. In a Volt, I can always pull in to a gas station to keep going.

iPhone?

iPhone?

Some have mentioned charging time as a place for improvement. I would agree with this, as my percentage of electric driving increased when I got a high-speed charger. I believe GM was very, very conservative in the design of the battery as well as how slowly (or gently) it is recharged. Obviously, GM wanted to kill any battery-life questions or issues. If the average Volt could be 100% recharged on a Level 2 charger in 2 hours or one 100V between 4 and 6 hours, do we even care about battery range? (answer: yes, we would, but maybe not as much…)

Chevy Volt?

Chevy Volt?

Some have mentioned the need for a charger network, similar to the Supercharger network being rolled out by Tesla.  I actually think this is a major area of misapplied focus. Governmental groups, retailers and others are trying to figure out how to reach the “tipping point” for EVs.  As I’ve mentioned before, I think charging away from home is too expensive.  What I’ve recently come to believe is that it’s also too inconvenient!  I regularly brag about how long it’s been since I’ve been to a gas station.  Currently, it’s been about 5 months.  The last time I went, I noticed how my Volt has changed me.  I was ticked off that I had to be somewhere other than my home to refuel my vehicle!

How odd it was to realize what I’d been feeling.  Most drivers are on the other side of the fence on this.  They haven’t experienced what I have.  In fact, I’ve had some people actually using refilling at home as an argument against EVs!  We all became conditioned that rain or shine, hot or cold, hell or high water, we had to go somewhere to keep our vehicle fueled.  What if, in the horse & buggy days, we had become convinced that we needed to take the family coach to a special field with “transportation grade grass” to feed our horses!

Next-Gen Chevy Volt?

Next-Gen Chevy Volt?

There has been discussion about Chevrolet moving to a 3-cylinder engine as the range extender. Who cares? Just keep me going between plugs and I’m happy.

iPhone?

iPhone?

Some have mentioned the need for five seats. I would agree that this is a needed enhancement as I’ve seen people walk away from the Volt because they needed one more seat. I’d actually like to see GM extend the availability of the Spark EV nationwide. We need a “beginner electric vehicle,” to which the Volt would be the “next logical step.” I’d like to see a variety of EVs from a single manufacturer. There will be car buyers who go their entire lives without buying a gasoline-powered vehicle. It’s about time someone stepped up and grabbed that market segment. A Spark EV, the Volt and then perhaps an Electric Impala, Traverse, SS or (dare I say it???) an electric Corvette Stingray!

Finally, a convertible. Yes, I said it. Out loud. I want a topless Volt. I accept I may lose some electric range due to it not being a aerodynamic but I’m willing to accept that (unless you’ve got a bigger battery in the offing…If so, I want that too!)

Chevy Volt Convertible?

Chevy Volt Convertible?

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17 responses to "Let The Next Gen Chevy Volt Guessing Game Begin!"

  1. taser54 says:

    I want a jaywalking pedestrian taser option for the volt.

  2. GeorgeS says:

    There is some truth to the rumors:

    There will be 2 Volts: a Volt “lite” and a maximum Volt.

    One of the regular posters at GM-Volt (Edju) was asked to participate in a GM sponsored “focus group”.

    They were shown the Specs for both cars and sat in mock ups.

    Does this mean there WILL for SURE be 2 Volts offered?

    No of course not.

    However it holds more credibility since it was a GM focus group not just some BS made up by a journalist.

    If it is true and there are 2 models then great. Good move GM.

  3. kdawg says:

    “Many have said extending the electric range of the Volt, is critical. Odd, because this appears to be where GM did a lot of research before designing the first Volt. They build a vehicle that would handle the commute required by 80% of us”
    —————
    That’s true, but not in the winter. I get 40 miles in the summer and 25 in the winter. We need(want) more AER.

    1. HVACman says:

      I’m thinking that next-gen EV’s, including the Volt, will have heat pumps for AC/heat, which in most climates will cut the heating kW draw down to a third of what it is now. That should help winter EV range

      1. pjwood says:

        Every time I think this, I know it would buy miles of range in the winter, but can visualize a GM engineer saying “Just use Hold Mode”. For this reason, I doubt heating will advance much. Another thing they could do is shrink the coolant loop a third time. If 15F is OK to run around at, then why heat all of the battery coolant before warming the cabin, at 30F, etc? They could heat ~1/2 a gallon, and warm the just the cabin, instead of soaking away ~5kw of current.

      2. Priusmaniac says:

        Isn’t that the case yet? How strange!

  4. kdawg says:

    “Some have mentioned the need for a charger network, similar to the Supercharger network being rolled out by Tesla. I actually think this is a major area of misapplied focus.”
    ———–
    This is somewhat subjective. Do you own more than 1 car? How often do you go on longer trips, say 100 miles or more? When you go on these longer trips and you stop for gas/food/bathroom what is the typical time you are stopped? How many times do you get an oil change in a year, and how long does that take?

  5. unbiased says:

    There will be two volts. The volt “light” is intended to compete directly with the prius. The main volt will NOT have the oft-reported 50-60 miles of range, it will have between 45 and 50. It will have 5 seats.
    There will be no crossover or SUV in the near future.
    The other “unannounced future product” is not a Chevrolet.

      1. unbiased says:

        None that I can share

    1. David Murray says:

      IF this is true.. (which I have doubts) I hope that the Volt Lite is still a plug-in of some kind. I really think all hybrid vehicles should have at least SOME plug-in capability, even if it is just 12 miles.

      I believe the current hybrid vehicle paradigm (of NOT plugging in) came to be from the NiMh patent issues that required the car to run from gasoline only. Since that is no longer an issue, hybrids should plug in!

  6. pjwood says:

    Definitely two volts. Volt “lite” will use a smaller battery and gas tank, and require less-filling.

    The second Volt will keep its spy wrap, and be rebadged the “Voyeur”.

    ..I guess I like the actual BS, better than commentary about the BS.

  7. MrEnergyCzar says:

    We’ll know for sure in about 8 months….

  8. Nix says:

    The first talk I remember hearing about the 2nd-gen Volt started before the first gen Volt was even delivered to any customers.

    That started when GM first announced they would use a 4-cyl for the first generation. GM said they didn’t have a 3-cyl engine that was already emissions certified, and it would be too much of an impact on their roll-out schedule to try and emissions certify a new engine. All the sudden folks were speculating about a 3-cyl in the 2nd-gen Volt.

    In that fine tradition of speculating about the future generation of the Volt, before the current generation even goes on sale, I’d like to be the first to speculate about the 3rd generation of Volts. =)

    I’ll go out on a limb, and speculate that no matter what the upcoming 2nd generation Volt turns out to be, that the 3rd generation Volt is going to have to have it’s own chassis, and no longer be based upon a gas car chassis. That clearly is the trend in EV’s, with Tesla, the Leaf, and the BMW i3 leading the way.

    The next issue for the 3rd gen Volt is that it will have to be much cheaper, because GM will have burned through all of their $7500 dollar federal tax rebates long before most other manufactures. So they will be competing without the advantage of a fed. rebate while other cars will still get it.

    Anyone else want to leap frog the 2nd gen Volt, and jump in on speculating on 3rd gen?

    =)

    1. Priusmaniac says:

      Sure, they will probably deliver on the triple five, expectation on the second gen Volt. 50 mpg, 5 seats, 50 EV miles.

      For the third generation, I would see a serial configuration change with the introduction of a direct free piston generator and removal of clutches and gears. The EV range would also grow to 100 miles by then and the price would drop further. In the same time there would be a range of dérivatives including a convertible a station wagon, an SUV and a sport car.

      1. Nix says:

        Priusmaniac, I like how you think!

        Maybe they can make the station wagon version Rear Wheel Drive with a stick? (just joking).

        Seriously though — I fully agree that an SUV version is going to become mandatory for GM to build, if the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is successful in the US market.

        GM could definitely out-market the Outlander by pushed more towards the BMW i3 style of range extender (with longer battery range like the i3 with range extender).

  9. tom says:

    How ’bout a two seat aluminum frame with carbon composite fenders…with optional T top….would be great for commuting or weekend excursions…who would care what kind of mileage you get out of your second vehicle(crossover or minivan)?