A story from Business Week provides clues as to the future of General Motors' plans for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, hinting that a pair of new models will debut in 2016. Those vehicles are most likely an updated version of the Chevrolet Volt and a new all-electric car.
The first model is expected to be an updated Chevrolet Volt, which will likely use next-generation battery technology. Outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson said in August that he hoped the next-generation Volt would have a 20-percent greater all-electric range, hinting that the car would be able to drive 50 to 60 miles on its battery alone. Improved, higher-capacity batteries could enable that increased range. It's also likely the new Chevrolet Volt will ditch its current 1.4-liter range-extending gas engine in favor of a new 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder, which would improve the car's fuel efficiency and performance once the battery charge is depleted.
Introducing the next-generation Chevrolet Volt in three years' time makes sense as the car will be more than five years old by then; it debuted for the 2011 model year in time to be named our 2011 Automobile of the Year. In addition to the aforementioned mechanical changes, expect the next-gen Chevrolet Volt to also receive a slightly updated look with mildly changed sheetmetal.
According to Business Week, GM wants to launch a new electrified car in 2016 for around $30,000. While that price is significantly cheaper than the 2014 Chevrolet Volt's $34,995 price tag (including destination), it's not unreasonable to believe that the cost of a next-generation plug-in hybrid could fall slightly. The car initially stickered for $41,000 in 2010 and has thus already had a significant price cut.
The other part of Business Week's story concerns a new car with an all-electric driving range of up to 200 miles. Akerson has hinted at this car, too, saying in March that GM would develop EVs that could travel 100 or 200 miles per charge. Such a driving range would help the future GM EV close in on the lofty driving range of the Tesla Model S. GM's only current all-electric car, the Chevrolet Spark EV, has an EPA-rated driving range of 82 miles. If it comes to fruition, expect this new electric car to also debut in 2016 -- either as a 2016 or 2017 model. That means both the EV and the next-gen Volt would go on sale in time to satisfy the stricter CAFE ratings that take effect from 2017 through 2025.
The Chevrolet Spark EV is also currently only available in California and Oregon, but it's likely a next-gen electric car would be offered in all 50 states.
Though it's unclear to which model he was referring, GM's Akerson confidently told Business Week of the new car, "We want it to be a moon shot so we can surprise the competition."