REPORT: GM Working With Focus Groups On 200 Mile EV Rollout?

AUG 28 2014 BY JAY COLE 84

The 200 mile all-electric vehicles from GM is looking more and more like a reality every day.

"Reports" Say A 200 Mile EV Based On The Sonic Is Coming From GM in 2016

“Reports” Say A 200 Mile EV Based On The Sonic Is Coming From GM in 2016

First ex-CEO Dan Akerson couldn’t help but continually remark how it was “on the horizon” from GM and how the company was working on a 200 mile EV.  Then there was word recently from LG Chem’s CEO Cho Suk-jeh that his company had been contracted by a major OEM to supply a 200 mile battery for 2016.

Which was followed by a report from “sources” in late July that a 200 mile vehicle would come from GM in the form of a Chevy Sonic platform-based vehicle.  Then a trademark application filled earlier this month showed GM squatting on the name “Bolt”.

Taken one at a time, all these event are fairly circumstantial…and you can “see what you want to see” in any of them.

So lets add one more thing.

UPDATE (content removed – 12:49 pm): Or maybe we won’t .   A member of the comment community here at InsideEVs was included as part of a focus group involving a future long range EV.  That story was emailed to us to share (which we did), but now has been removed at his request as apparently there was some confidentiality issues.  As we don’t want to get anyone into hot water, and at his request, we have removed his focus group walk through.

So bonus points to you… if you were here earlier and got to read it.

Categories: Chevrolet

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

84 Comments on "REPORT: GM Working With Focus Groups On 200 Mile EV Rollout?"

newest oldest most voted

Wow!!! Must admit I didn’t see this one coming.

Well you won’t see it on a Sonic chassis as just not enough room for the 200 mile range battery.
Even with better capacity it’d be lucky to get 120 mile range.
If you want affordable 200 mile range it’ll have to be designed as an EV from scratch and well.
Just present lithium batteries in a Solectria Sunrise EV that was made from RTM CF and crash tested like the i3 that did 377 miles on NiMH would be 5-600 + miles on lithium.
To a large degree it’s what you put the batteries in as much as what battery. There is no reason EV’s need more than 150wthr/mile meaning 200 mile range on 32kwhr.
Or better 100 mile range on 16kwhr and a tiny RE generator for unlimited range as few need more than that.

I like so much the idea of ” 100 mile range on 16kwhr and a tiny RE generator for unlimited range as few need more than that”

On a Chevy volt , the 16kwh battery already make 63 pc of the total mileage , with an electric autonomy of 40-50 miles . If you double that figure , you could make up to 80 pc of the mileage only with electricity .

And the tiny generator can be not so sophisticated . and no range anxiety!

Really? Seems the writing was on the wall when Tesla made GM look like they were behind the times, there were public statements a long time ago that tipped the hand. Those that did not anticipate this will also be blind sided by the cleaver smoke and mirrors of Toyota. Did anyone know Mercedes had an S class full EV many years ago? Far before the silly B class was a pipe dream. Keep an eye out on auto makers that start with an “H” and are not from Japan. This is the next secret battle front full of intentional deception. Those that think the G2 RAV was something Toyota needed help from Tesla are being fooled on every front:)

I’m not waiting for a longer range EV anymore. Out with the LEAF and now waiting for delivery of my new Tesla..
Sorry Nissan, GM, etc….

Congratulations! Doesn’t seem likely any big surprises are coming in spacious BEVs. Wise move.

is it also possible this was another mfr?

Tesla? Nissan ?

The description actually sounds more likely to be the BMW i5, to my mind. *shrugs*

Hmm. Given GM’s record for quaility on the Volt and the Spark EV, a 200 mile EV should be amazing. The real question, how supply constrained will it be for the first model year? Is this a Cali car or can some of us East coasters finally reap the EV rewards?

Whoops. Meant to post that in the general thread, not yours Anon.

I don’t think it was the BMW i5. It was too small.

Did it look like a Sonic?

Just looked at the 2016 Chevy Cruise and the steering wheel is the same as that. This is definitely a GM product.

That’s nailed it then!
Many thanks!

Ok then. Color me surprised GM is finally going for a > 100 mile BEV so soon…

Thanks Ace! 🙂

Sounds like great competition for Nissan. Also for Tesla’s Model III, but Tesla will be way ahead of GM with their SuperCharging network.

I hope Chevrolet includes a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats like the Leaf.


ELR has it…, parts bin isn’t too far away.

The EV “winter package” needs to keep evolving in these focus groups. That’s the subject of one I attended.

Yep . . . it looks like Tesla, GM, and Nissan will retain their leads in EVs. A lot of the recent additions like the VW eGolf, Kia Soul, Fiat 500e, etc. may struggle with their high-priced first-gen offerings as these 2nd gen cars become available from the Pioneers.

All of those with the possible exception of Kia who seem to be tied in to one battery manufacturer have access to all the battery companies, and there is no reason that they can’t put in the latest and greatest batteries as GM is doing here.

Any one of these companies can buy Panosonic for about the cost of a Gigafactory.

Sorry, I misplaced a decimal point. Panasonics total assets are 56 billion dollars

What leafer said. If the parts don’t seem to match GM’s, could it be another mfr? After all, you can only build a 35k 200 mile ev from using standardized parts as much as possible.

Rodrigo Henriques Negreiros Magalhaes

Could it be the new Nissan Leaf? Sure it could. At this point, the affordable (less than $30K) 200 miles+ full electric vehicle is the ‘saint grail’ that all manufacturers should be looking at. Forget fuel cell vehicles. What consumers want is an affordable 200+ miles range EV.

Michael starts with:

“On Sunday September 24th …….”

Is that a mistake, or was that in 2013?

I would have to assume he meant August 24th, which would be this past Sunday.

Fixed…August 24th

2016/2017 will be very interesting indeed. With at least 3-4 options in the mid-$30k, 150-200 mile range (Tesla, Nissan, GM, and likely VW), the only question is of infrastructure. If there are enough quick chargers in the right place, many people (myself included) can finally get off of gasoline completely. If there is insufficient infrastructure, all of these will fall flat. And yes, Tesla has a good head start, but even their plan for 2015 falls short for a 200-mile nominal (maybe 150 winter miles) EV. Hopefully they continue to fill in the gaps beyond 2015, and not just add more stalls to existing locations.

It is really not a biggie.

There are thousands of other charging points, and the other standards can be relatively easily bumped up to 100kw.

The major expense or a charging point is the underground power supply, and especially at multiple charging stations that should be beefy enough to stand at least one level 3 or whatever they call the charger.

As they get nearer to the start of any potential roll out of another very fast charger network they can easily make sure that new stations have enough power to cope.

So they could be rolled out relatively swiftly and easily, since it would be largely upgrades and not acquiring land and so on for new stations.

Agreed that it COULD be done. I was more wondering about whether it WILL be done. And not just for California, or even the 8 coalition states. It’s one thing to be able to travel New York state freely in an EV. It’s another to be able to take a trip down to VA beach for summer vacation without having to rent another car. That involves driving in five states, only two of which are in the CARB-ZEV coalition.

The requirements for travel charging and metro charging are totally different. The locations are totally different.

Spend some time with both an in-town 80 mile EV and a long distance touring car like the Tesla Model S and it will become painfully clear.

This is no easy upgrade. It’s a whole new ball game and if whoever is producing a 200 mile EV doesn’t do it right, it will be a public embarassment.

*embarrassment. haha

Assume zero upgrading of existing sites and put the cost at $200,000 per charger, which is more than generous.

Allow 1,000 chargers, many times that of Tesla, to cover NA.

That’s $200 million.

That is about 3 days worth of VW’s annual world investment budget.

Even GM could afford to build one out on its own if it had to, let alone in a consortium.

None of them will really have to do much of the financing though, as a $35k 200 mile range car is such an obvious winner that companies already involved in the charging industry will be queueing up to build them.

So there is no problem whether or not there is upgrading on existing sites, although my guess is that there will be for perhaps 30% or so of level 3 chargers.

Rodrigo Henriques Negreiros Magalhaes

to be honest, in my opinion the charging time is more important than the infra-structure. If I can charge my EV fast at home or work, that’s fine for me and I believe for the majority of people.

I’m dubious that the fate of 200 mile EVs rests on QC infrastructure for road trips, i.e. that they will “fall flat” without it.

The percentage of households that can make good use of a car with a 200 mile limit is far higher than the likely penetration of EVs in the 2017 time frame. Put another way, I think there are a lot of people out there who would consider an EV for their everyday car but aren’t comfortable with 60-80 miles that would be just fine with 160-200 miles. To be provocative, one could even conjecture that the demand for infrastructure will actually fall when typical EVs have 200 miles of range.

None of which is to say that Tesla having their supercharger network won’t give them a marketing advantage, or that there aren’t lots of people who want to do road trips, just that there are a lot of people who don’t need to do road trips in every car they own. You only need a few percent of the population to create a huge market.

I completely agree. For me, I have no interest in an 80 mile EV. A 200 mile EV gives you a lot more options. It also provides a lot more margin for cold weather battery issues and being stuck in traffic. And for those that have short commutes, you don’t have to remember to charge everyday.

Being stuck in traffic increases EV range, rather than decreases it.

Not if you’re using climate control! Especially in the winter, I can see my Volt’s electric range keep dropping while stuck in traffic.

I’m convinced it is a reality…..but I’m concerned it could be looked at as a 35-40k $ Fit or Spark.

The public still views 35K as a lot of money for a car even with 200 mile range….I’m not sure it will sell in volume unless they:

Make it look special….and it doesn’t sound that special from the description.

With all these upcoming changes to EVs, maybe I’ll stick with a 2-year lease for my next EV in January. Exciting!

Assuming(and that is an understatement if ever one existed)that this mystery car represents an actual GM EV with the 200 mile range at approximately $35K, then if I were Nissan/BMW/VW, et al, I’d be nervous. The reality of such a car in 2016-2017(eg)would cause heavy price cuts in the other EV’s. How could Nissan sell their SV model at $38K? Frankly, I can anticipate drops on the other EV’s up to $10,000 if this 200 mile EV hits the market as suggested. At the very least they’d have to increase range accordingly, so offer a Nissan SV with 200K range at the price of an 82 mile range vehicle today. Without question it would truly cause the EV market to explode, as many of us EV drivers sensed it would once battery prices came down. An issue then would be QC’ing and merging with Tesla’s SC network. You just cannot have 3 competing technologies and expect the general public(even if the are informed about EV’s)to buy into that quagmire. The manufacturers will HAVE to resolve that issue. A 200 mile EV would make almost any trip doable—assumming you have QC capabilities easily accessed.


My guess is that it may be a Nissan.

They have said that they plan more radical architectures to take advantage of the packaging possibilities of electric drive now that they have established the basic market.

That would explain where the missing batteries might go.

If you use wheel motors as they were talking about doing you can put batteries where the engine used to go.

They have a lot of spare capacity in their plants, and a smaller car with better range makes a lot of sense to complement a 150 mile range Leaf.

Was there ever any doubt about this? Several automakers will have 200 mile EVs by 2017. You don’t think Ford, Nissan and others won’t as well? Of course they will.

There it is!!! No more stories on future electric vehicles and when they might show up then.

“Several automakers will have 200 mile EVs by 2017” – which automakers again will have a 200 mile car BY 2017 & which cars are those? Ford is making a 200 mile EV soon? Source please

Nothing would surprise me with GM they like Tesla are the greatest inventors of the modern world. just look at the 21st century Volt technology….the world is moving forward.Gods will.

Nice Bolt rendering kdawg!!

How much for a fully loaded sonicdusk version?

Chevy Trax and Buick Encore are built on the same platform as the sonic. Things that make you hmm.

One thing is sure.
It ain’t an Audi.

A $35k Audi! :-0:-0

FWIW these focus groups are real and we know GM does them.

One of our group spilled the beans about a Volt Focus group and got busted since he had signed a confidentiality agreement. He was asked to go back and pull all the comments about it. Not an easy task.

Yeah, probably.
I was just wondering where the batteries had disappeared to and came up with what Nissan have said hence my speculation.
If its not GM it could be almost anyone though.

VW are perhaps unlikely as they would probably simply stuff the better batteries into the E-Up if they wanted to do a smaller electric car around Fit sized.

At this point of development we do not need “common man EVs” but we — the subsidies — need to ensure that electric vehicles have more than 50 % market share among the rich 2 %. After all, the rich 2 % buy about 5 % of all new cars and this means several million car potentia EV markets.

Funny, so much focus on GM producing a 200 mile EV, but no mention of the number of kWh’s needed to travel 200 miles.

A typical 3.3 miles/kWh EV will require 60 kWh of power to reach 200 miles. At a higher effiency of 4.2 miles/kWh the EV would require 50 kWh of battery. On a wet cold day at 2.8 miles/kWh some 70 kWh would be needed.

Even a 150 mile range requires a substantial pack capacity.
48 kWh for 3.3 miles/kWh typical EV
36 kWh for 4.2 miles/kWh efficient EV
56 kWh for 2.8 miles/kWh bad weather capabilie EV

200 miles is 5 times the Volts current ~40 mile range. It will be pretty amazing to see how engineers squeeze at leat 4x the battery capacity of the Volt into perhaps a 2x increase in battery volume over today’s Volt. Packaging the battery pack is thus a very challenging engineering exercise.

Depends. 50kwh with a diet (weight) is doable.

The kwh for range are after the batteries are charged, ie not taking into account the 10-20% loss in charging from the wall.

The EPA figures are not calculated based on adverse conditions, and are rather optimistic about that and average speed.

About 48 kwh, with improvements in weight etc since the Leaf, would be my guess.

I’ve long since figured that a Chevy 200 mile EV would have a 55kWh battery pack. The standard charged capacity would likely be around 170 miles, being able to extend it to 200 miles with a “full charge”.

A 55kWh pack would require a pretty energy dense battery to make it all happen though – 200-250Wh/kg to get the total pack weight down to under 325kg. I think LG Chem can do it though. The question is will the price per kWh be low enough to make it affordable. $200/kWh is the price I think they need to beat.

You are assuming a weak EV motor and controller for such a low efficiency of 3 miles per kWh. Volt owners get over 4 and some have reach 7 miles per kWh, with hypermiling, but it is doable. The Spark EV motor gets 5 miles per kWh, and I know GM engineers can improve that motor to get a minimum of 7 miles per kWh. That requires only a 30 kWh battery capacity for the 200-mile EV range, and that size can fit under a larger car floor like the Sonic or others.

The gold standard will be getting 10 miles per kWh and any present battery packcan give over 100 mile of EV range, which will finally break the range limit of gas versus electric.

Nobody is going to get 10 miles per kWh with real-world driving in anything resembling a highway-capable BEV.

Both the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S come in at just slightly over 3 miles per kWh, per their EPA range ratings. The BMW i3 (without range extender), with its lighter carbon fiber body, comes in at 3.68 miles/kWh. And unlike gas guzzlers, there isn’t much room for improved energy efficiency. Electric motors are already extremely efficient.

Top efficiency in anything close to a car which carries at least four passengers, and which can drive on the highways, is almost certainly going to be EPA rated at 4 miles per kWh or less.

And let’s leave off the talk of extreme hypermiling, hmmm? The proper comparison is the energy efficiency of different cars, not the efficiency of different driving styles.

I think the $35,000 price tag would rule out several manufacturers including BMW and Audi. The rubber membrane on the steering wheel controls reminds me of my Toyota Prius I used to have. But I tend to not think Toyota would be building a 200 mile EV. The LCD screen style sounds like the Volt/Spark EV style screen. If it were a Nissan or Mitsubishi, I would expect it to have a Chademo connector which means a much larger charge door to accommodate both plugs. So I’m going to rule out Nissan. Chrysler has shown no interest in building EVs. I think if it were a Tesla, the styling cues would have given that away. Plus the car sounds too small. That pretty much leaves us with GM, Honda, and Ford. I have heard some rumors that Ford is about to have some big power-train announcements although I was expecting to hear about PHEV and hybrid stuff. Honda has been a disappointment for the last decade, so I’m not holding out on them… My money is on GM.

I agree, its from GM. As I posted earlier, the steering wheel is the same as the 2016 Cruise.

I don’t want a Fit-sized car.

Use the Volt: remove ICE, put in more batteries.

What the hell does it matter? They are going to cripple it with a quick charger standard nobody uses, meaning the car is useless.

I’m with Lindsay Patten’s comment above. A 150-200 mile car becomes the first stop for an “every day” BEV, that most would feel secure reaching for.

This isn’t a distance cruiser, anyway.

Tony Williams has his work cut out for him, if the DCFC adapter industry can take off. Just go to and select the brown, high power (L3) stations. I was stunned at how many 40,000-135,000 watt stations have shown up over just the past year.

A Quick charger that no one uses? I guess GM, VW, Porsche, Fiat/Chrysler, BMW, Audi, Ford, Smart, Daimler-Benz, etc. are “no one”?

OK, they don’t have many cars out yet but they are all signed up to support SAE-CCS. And there are SAE-CCS chargers out there. Bring this car out will only increase the rate at which chargers will get installed.

Well, I’ve participated in dozens (over 25 at this point) of forcus groups, studies, videos, etc. I’ve was a member of ALL of the CAB groups for Chevy as well. All of them with long very legal NDA agreements. They are usually paid participation so lets hope AceVolt is not his real name. It fact I’m doing another one next week and while I might mention a few items to friends I would cetainly respect the NDA and not post a play by play of the paid for study. Next, Bolt and Volt? Really. I find that hard to believe that would actually be the name. Was that a joke? And charge time is always a factor. Do you know how long it would take to charge a 200 mile range car with a 3.3kW charger. Let’s hope that it’s at least a 6.6kW or something similar to the Tesla with a 30-80 Amp charge system. Last. I’m assuming the 200 mile range is with gas. Either that or it has magical batteries that are super small and fit in a car of similar size as the Volt, not to mention the price of such mythical batteries. Yes the Tesla… Read more »

This focus group specifically called out not wanting pictures taken. I complied with their requirement and did not take photos.

Someone should ask Michael T/AceVolt if this was the car he saw:

Chevy Tru 140S concept car unveiled 2 years ago at the Detroit auto show.

No it was not.

Ok, so much for that. :p
Reading your description again, sounds like the Bolt (or whatever it really is) is a compact hatchback of some type. Which means it may be the 200 mile Sonic that has been rumored. I hope I’m wrong on that one.

Wonder what the Chevy Nut is going to be… 😉

The Chevy Nut is the part behind the steering wheel!

That would be you Raymond 🙂

Fascinating article, and, as always, a really interesting discussion from our little community here. Thanks one and all. I am struck, yet again, in the discussion my wife and I had yesterday about what to do when our Leaf lease is up in March and when reading this post + thread by how much our current electric car situation reminds me of the early days of the PC. I was heavily involved with computers at the time (and ever since, frankly) both professionally and as a hobbyist, and I remember quite vividly how even the rapid rate of technological advancement in the early 80’s through the early/mid 90’s felt agonizingly slow. We were constantly trying to get just a little more CPU speed or RAM or graphics resolution or dial-up modem speed (or …) without breaking the bank. It was an exciting, invigorating, and sometimes frustrating time (thanks to questionable decisions by certain manufacturers) — quite like what we’re living through now. But as for the topic at hand, I think it’s very clear that the general consensus in this thread — Really Big Stuff is coming, Real Soon Now — is correct. Even more so than ever, I think… Read more »

Lou and I are in about the same boat. My 2012 lease expires in January and I am in a huge quandary as to what to do. NMAC has not made any offers to me of a deal and seems to give me only two options: extend the lease at what I consider a high rate or purchase the Leaf for nearly $17K. Of course I could give them $400 plus whatever trumped-up damage charges they come up with. I can’t see purchasing or leasing a new car of any sort with significant advances in 18-24 months.

I’d sure be interested in hearing what you decide to do.

I remain cautiously optimistic . . . but building their 200 mile EV on the Sonic? Really? Some econobox? Ugh . . . could be another failure like the ELR. They just don’t get it.

Perhaps they should just create a new brand for their EVs. Cadillac is a stodgy old brand for Grandpas. Chevy is viewed as too low-end and inexpensive.

I so totally agree on that Spec. GM is sooo hard to understand almost all the time. Why they decided to stuff a 20000$ drive train in a bottom of the line Chevy Cruze baffles me.

If this thing ends up as a Sonic my interest will go to zero.

We should ask AceVolt if it could have been a Sonic.

First manufacturer ready to produce a 150+ mile mid-size EV for $35k or less with 50+kW QC in volume will win.

At least until the next manufacturer comes out with the same thing.

Since it is now established that this is a GM the reason for their recent comment that the Volt II is not seen as mass market vehicle is now clear.

A 200 mile BEV for $35k kills the need for a PHEV in their view, it seems.

They probably figure they will have more profit in a 200 mile EV than in a similarly priced Volt.

I’d still think I’d take the Volt for the same price…..but we need more details.

You are losing a lot of complexity and components.

PHEV was only ever the way to go whilst batteries were expensive.

Being me I took a pessimistic view, and assumed worst case, and certainly battery progress has been slower than some of us had hoped in around 2009, but it looks as though we have got there.

Good job, LG, and good job, GM!

I just want to say that I do not think I have ever read such insightful comments. You guys are the best!

Thank you for Insights

Its obviously a GM Vehicle,

did it have 2 or 4 doors?

No one is going to compete with a Tesla so long as Musk is running the show—-
Just the service alone is worth thousands not counting the savings due to the proliferation of superchargers—-

All the growing pains are over and we all know growing pains are never over with other car manufacturers—-

Let me give an example of Tesla Quality—
I drive with a very heavy foot and live 1000 ft. up a very winding road—there is nothing that wears out tires faster than driving at high speed on curves—
At both the 5000 and 10000 mile check-ups my tires did not need rotating for the wear was exacting the same on each of the 4 tires—
Now maybe a slower driver on straight roads can get the same wear on all 4 tires but i doubt it—saying nothing of the ruts I’ve hit at high speeds—

As long as I can come close to affording a Tesla I will never never buy a different make—-

Did anyone get to see it, Jay?