2016 Chevy Volt Redesign Will Be Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary

Since the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan LEAF launched in December 2010, we’ve seen massive improvements in the world of electric vehicles, from battery density and longevity improvements to more efficient motor design and even more compact components.  Aside from a few minor changes to trim specification, a slight change in battery pack design and — in the case of the LEAF — a few tweaks to power electronics and heating systems, both cars are in need of a major second-generation update to retain their lead in the plug-in car market.

Next Gen Volt will have an 'evolutionary' design change from the current model.

Next Gen Volt will have an ‘evolutionary’ design change from the current model.

Both Nissan and General Motors have publicly hinted these updates will happen some time in 2015 in the form of a ‘second generation’ 2016 model. We’ve heard rumors before about both the 2016 LEAF and 2016 Volt which talk about better range, more conventional design and perhaps improved charging capabilities — but the latest news from Detroit seems  to suggest that GM’s second-gen Chevy Volt will be an evolutionary, not revolutionary change from its current design.

According to anonymous sources talking to Edmunds, the second-generation Volt will feature subtle design differences to the current design that we’ve all become familiar with, enough to mark it apart from its predecessor but with enough similarities to reinforce its heritage.

“It is different, but not drastically different,” the source said. “Just really a bit of styling change to it.”

We’re not sure what the styling differences will be, but we are interested to see if the second-generation Volt picks up more of the European stylings of the Vauxhall/Opel Ampera. Built on the same Detroit production line as the Volt and with the same engine and powertrain, the Ampera features different front and rear body panels to the Volt and is often referred to as a more ‘adventurous’ design by U.S. Volt owners, who say they prefer it to the Volt’s rather traditional appearance.

What we do know from Edmunds however, is that the second-generation Volt will supposedly be built on an all-new front wheel-drive global GM platform. Combine this with rumors we’ve heard in the past that suggest a three-cylinder turbocharged, lightweight engine instead of the four-cylinder engine the current generation Volt uses, and we’re excited, especially when several top-level GM executives — including GM CEO Dan Akerson — have publicly insisted the next-gen Volt is shooting for double the EV range of the current model.

Could the new Volt look more like its European sibling, the Vauxhall Ampera?

Could the new Volt look more like its European sibling, the Vauxhall Ampera?

That’s before we even look at price, which GM has repeatedly said would be far less than the current model — as much as $10,000 less.

Of course, nothing is set in stone and we should point out that these really are just rumors. But we think an 80-mile Volt would be a seriously impressive car for many Americans who need the everyday utility of an electric car, but occasionally need to venture off the beaten track to parts of the U.S. currently not massively covered by charging infrastructure.

What do you think? Is the next-gen Volt going to be a game-changer? Or is it old-hat to be even talking about a car with an electric motor and a gasoline range-extending engine?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • vdiv

    IF there is a second gen. Volt (GM has shown no evidence) what is newsworthy is that it will still share a platform with ICE cars instead of having its own. The merits and drawbacks of that are various, but it speaks to the low level of confidence and commitment that GM has in the Volt, if any. Rather sad 🙁

  • Marcus Kornmehl

    If the front fender is more than 15mm from the ground (like the current version) then I’ll buy one. Until then other people can enjoy scraping the belly of their car every time they mount a speed bump or enter a driveway.

    • Gera Quiroz

      its a flexible plastic skirt to minimize air drag.nNOT THE BUMPER

  • lasvegascolonel

    I’ve found living in Europe that they get the nicer, more stylish designs. Even they get a modern Toyota Prius V with lithium-ion batteries and 3 row seating, while we get the last century technology (nickel-metal hydride batteries). The Volt is certainly unique, but the people who want pure EVs tend to buy Leafs, Focus Electrics, Chevy Spark EV, or Teslas. They’re the folks who don’t want to have to contend with gasoline, oil, oil changes, water pumps, coolant, radiators, etc. etc. etc. My neighbor who has a Leaf has it as his ONLY car…when his family goes on a vacation, they rent a gas burner for two weeks. But, your daily commute has to be under 75 miles a day, which is easy for me. Someday I’ll get either a Volt, Leaf, or Focus Electric…can’t afford the Tesla.

  • Nodack

    Can’t buy an all electric vehicle at this time. The Tesla is the only one with enough range not to scare me, but at that price only the wealthy can afford. The gas back up and the Volt having enough range to perform 90% of my trips on electric power only, having the ability to go cross country on gas and it looking stylish as well make it my front runner.nnn”Jenny wants you to pick her up at school after work.”nnn”Sorry hun, but the car will be almost dead from my commute to work and I don’t want to risk running out of power leaving Jenny stranded and me waiting for a tow truck on the side of the road.” She will just have to find another way home.