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.
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.
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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