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Why Can't GM Improve Chevy Volt and Make It a Great EV

Why can't GM take the Chevrolet Volt and make it a great EV? It looks more beautiful than Tesla Model 3 and Nissan Leaf.


These days when Tesla Model 3 and Nissan Leaf top the top news headlines in the media and even Toyota came up with a big news about its electric batteries one wonders about General Motors. Why there isn't a big news from GM taking some lead in the electric car news? Yes, GM has the Chevy Bolt, which is a nice looking car with some amazing specs and features. But what happened to Chevy Volt? In my option Volt looks much better than the Bolt. Owners of Volt are have been very happy with their car and it looks like a nice luxurious vehicle with a stunning design.

Why not take Chevy Volt's design with some of its amazing characteristics and make it a great electric car that can easily compete with Tesla Model 3 and Nissan Leaf?

I asked few EV owners about this and most of them are either a Volt or Bolt owners and here is what some of them said.

One person, named Matthew, agreed with me, but he said he thinks Tesla Model 3 looks better. "It's definitely better looking than the Bolt," Matthew wrote referring to the Chevy Volt. "A different battery structure would fit perfectly into the Volt," he said.

"The new Chevy Volt is actually pretty blah in my opinion," writes Sean. "The back looks alright I suppose, but the front looks like a 7 year old Honda Civic. I much prefer the styling of the gen 1 and especially the ELR, but the power train and features of the Gen 2," he added.

Opinion: Chevy Bolt Makes More Sense

Ivan Jue, who has contributed several EV articles to TorqueNews said this. "I love our 2016 Volt, and it works well for us. We already have 36k miles on it. But Bolt makes more sense currently as a mass market EV. Sedan sales overall are in decline, while the small and medium crossover segment keeps growing. The Volt has the utility of a hatch, and looks great, but with a sloping roof-line, this limits utility a bit. And the interior space is fairly small.

"The Bolt (even though it has no AWD) is a crossover design. It has significant legroom and headroom. Once you get in and drive it, it's very apparent. You step "in" to a Volt, but you step "up" into a Bolt. HRV/CRV, RAV4, and Trax don't look "pretty" either, but they are selling extremely well. Practicality and utility matter more over exterior looks," said Jue.

I would love it if GM did it: I mean if GM improved the Volt and came up with a decent EV. "A performance SS Volt would be awesome," wrote user named Shad. "I actually really like the functionality of having a backup generator. Maybe they could make one like the BMW i3 where the engine is smaller and more of a parachute."

He also added that there is a rumor, according to which GM will move the Chevrolet Volt's powertrain to a crossover. We just have to wait and see. Overall, I don't think GM is sitting with its hands crossed when the world is moving toward more steady EV adoption and countries like France, India and UK announce a ban of ICE cars in the next few decades.


Karl (not verified)    July 28, 2017 - 10:30AM

The PHEV platform of the Volt is, and will continue to be, the best of all worlds until a quick-charge (10 min.?) technology is devised such as super capacitors, etc. Until then, nothing beats the Volt for function and affordability. The rumor that GM will replace the Volt with a crossover would be foolish on GM's part. They should keep the Volt and simply add a PHEV awd crossover to their line-up.

Will (not verified)    July 29, 2017 - 8:14PM

In reply to by Karl (not verified)


It's not really an affordable option to have all these different vehicles. Too many platforms was killing American car manufacturers in the past. Chevy would kill the Volt along other things to convert the factory to a different platform. If people are buying more and more cross-overs then it makes sense. The neon was killed for a cross-over and many other cars went the same way. People love hatchbacks 3 and 5 door cars over 2 and 4 now as well. Everything has a hump now and I wouldn't count the Volt in on that. Honestly if I could choose a Volt that was shaped like a Bolt I would have and if Chevy had something more like the i3 REX that would probably work better for them now that the Volt is no longer the ObamaCar. A lot of Volts where sold to companies and government and they didn't average very high EV percentages. When I picked mine up it had 60% gas miles.

I honestly could see the next volt really just be a more American version of the i3... There are people who own Volts with nearly 0% gas usage!!!!!!!!!!!!! How!!! WHY??? Its the wrong car for that. Companies have to reduce platforms to be profitable... The i3 is BMWs Volt, Spark, and more all wrapped up into 1 car. They offer 2 battery levels and a barely usable gas engine. Id like to see them move in that direction except instead of offering the largest battery with a tiny engine as the top offering have a decent battery no engine, big battery no engine, and decent battery w/ engine. On the largest one they put the bigger battery where the engine would have been.

Who knows if that's truly an option... But we won't see a Volt Gen3... It's not happening unless they keep the name and make it a crossover

Karl (not verified)    August 1, 2017 - 11:04AM

In reply to by Will (not verified)

The reason company / fleet vehicles have low battery usage should be obvious b/c fleet and company users are typically high mileage and it makes no sense to charge if your daily trip is going to be at least a few hundred miles. Saving one gallon of gas when the driver is totally reimbursed for fuel expense is a waste of time, effort, and electricity. The Volt was designed for the average commuting consumer who drives less than 40 miles per day and it works perfectly for that purpose and when the owner wishes to take a long cross-country trip, he/she just uses the hybrid mode at 40mpg.
GM's problem wasn't too many platforms, it was that too many brands were using nearly identical platforms (Olds, Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, etc.) which is why they've narrowed their line-up. (and maybe still have too many - i.e., Buick / GMC.) All they need is Cadillac and Chevy. For now, and at least the near future, GM really nailed with the Volt PHEV concept and they will do well to expand that to other platforms.

Gregory Morris (not verified)    May 16, 2021 - 5:15PM

In reply to by Karl (not verified)

I totally agree the Chevy Volt needs to be marketed better. It's gas backup engine makes for worry-free driving if you cannot charge for a long time. It could down the road increase the size of the battery to 100 miles. This will capture those who live farther away from their job. I love my new 2017 volt they have the regenerative braking on brake paddles on the steering wheel.

Mike Draughn (not verified)    July 29, 2017 - 3:49PM

As a Gen 1 Volt owner i would like to see GM retain the Volt. It is a great car! (I can't get my wife out from under the Wheel). She absolutely loves it!!! I think dropping the Volt from its line-up is a mistake. Several countries have said they will eliminate all ICE VEHICLES IN THE FUTURE.

Doug Peng (not verified)    August 16, 2017 - 4:20PM

As an owner of a Chevy Volt, I am a big proponent of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) over all electric cars (BEV) like Teslas, Leafs, and Bolts. If I were to make an early bet now, I believe PHEVs will win hands down over all electric BEVs once people start driving electric cars and realize they don't need 200+ mile batteries because their home is the "gas" station where they can easily fill up with electricity every night. In fact, the ideal battery size is one that is just big enough to cover your daily commute needs and no more. The best way to describe a PHEV is "Electricity for your daily commute and gasoline for your weekend getaways". This combination makes sense for two reasons 1) Lithium-Ion batteries are very heavy. A Tesla battery weighs 1,200 lbs in which you are only using 10~15% of it on a daily commute basis. That means you are lugging around 1,000 lbs of unused batteries which is the equivalent of hauling three full size refrigerators in your everyday commute! 2) And when you are making those infrequent long weekend getaways, filling up at a gas station is still far more convenient than waiting 1~4 hours at a charging station assuming it's even available. When those Model 3s become popular, lineups at freeway/highway charging stations will invariably become common. With a PHEV, you can switch back to gas mode for those infrequent weekend getaways and don't have to worry about lineups or non-existent charging stations.

William Murphy (not verified)    August 27, 2017 - 5:51AM

In reply to by Doug Peng (not verified)


Going to start by saying the BMW i3 REX is really the only well designed range extender I'll explain why at the end... First why what you explain is a little off.

You mention a Tesla battery weighs 1200LBs and that you only use 10-15% of it. How much does a gas engine weigh? Also if 1000LBs is the wasted battery amount then you are in the Prius Prime camp and not the Chevy Volt camp. The Chevy Volt battery weighs 400LBs!!! The Prius Battery is in line with your numbers... Anyways after the Volts 400LB battery. That leaves only an 800LB difference AND engine, coolant, exhaust, fluids, fuel, and supporting parts are 500-700LBs

Part of the battery strategy for the Volt as well as Tesla is not utilizing the entire battery. Oversizing the battery will make the battery last longer.

Also for all of these cars battery size is directly related to the performance of the vehicle. The larger the batter the faster the car can be. There is a reason the Prius Prime has a tiny little electric motor... Because it can't have the same size motor as the Volt because it doesn't have enough cells and therefore it doesn't have the required current capacity to have a battery that lasts many years.

Also there is charging speed. You can't have a fast charging battery if you have a tiny battery. The Volt might have been able to handle a 6.6 L2 but instead it has a 3.3 (Chevy played it safe) the 200LB battery that you think is a good size CAN NOT handle 6.6 L2... These shitty little 3.3kw chargers are congesting our charging infrastructure already. Luckily in 10 years L2 will probably be only a small percentage of public chargers.

Anyways... I own a Chevy Volt Gen1... It's a great car and it will eventually be our back up car after we get something like a Chevy Spark EV, Fiat 500E or BMW i3

This brings me to why the i3 is really the absolute best extended range car. First it has plenty of range at over 100 miles EV... It will charge 2x as fast as other range extender vehicles so your not wasting other peoples time at public chargers. The gas engine doesn't waste a bunch of room or weight. It's there for what's its meant to do... Get you from gas station to gas station in a situation where you ran out of battery or just must make that occasional 200 mile trip. Personally I think that's perfect. If I could drive 100 miles on a charge I would use 6-12 gallons of gas a year! I have 1-2 trips a month that get into 120-140 miles round trip. Smart usage of driving modes would mean I'd barely notice.

Right now this car is overpriced... But my guess is eventually another car company buys into this weed whacker for a backup engine idea and we get some American or Japanese economy car that has L3 charging, 60-100 mile range and a weed whacker engine for those once in a great while scenarios!!!