General Motors is busy working on the second-generation Volt plug-in hybrid due around 2015/16, a car its US customers are reportedly hoping will have five seats (rather than four), a longer electric range and a sharper starting price.
The customer wish list, reported by US industry journal Automotive News, was revealed around the same time as GM released findings from a 30-month study into the performance of 300 Volts in the real world.
The company, which has regularly quizzed its customers about how its first mainstream plug-in performed in the daily grind, would no doubt have been buoyed by what it discovered.
In a rare piece of good news for a company beset by numerous active vehicle recalls totalling more than 20 million cars, GM found its customers are exceeding the EPA-rated maximum pure EV range of 56km, with as many as 45 of those tested surpassing 64km.
Volt owners are also doing more than 63 per cent of their overall driving in EV mode, according to the study. In addition, Volt owners who charge regularly typically drive more than 1550km between fill-ups and visit the petrol station less than once a month.
This is backed up by the findings of an independent study conducted between July and December last year by the US Department of Energy in which 81.4 per cent of Volt trips never activated the backup petrol engine.
Backing up the Volt’s green credentials, GM claims that since launch in 2010, owners of “helped reduce gasoline consumption” by 95 million litres — a figure about equal to the total petrol usage of Washington DC for 2.5 months.
GM will no doubt be taking the customer wish-list seriously, considering the Volt is a crucial ‘conquest car’ that drives incremental sales. The company says 69 per cent of Volt buyers are new to GM, while the Toyota Prius is the most frequently traded-in vehicle for a Volt.
As we reported in April, spy pictures of the second-generation Volt indicate the car will feature an evolution of the current model’s wedge-like styling. The company is expected to base it on its new global small-car platform, codenamed D2XX, that will underpin the 2016 Cruze.
Furthermore, the current 1.4-litre backup engine that charges the battery cells could be replaced by a version of GM’s new, more frugal 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit.
The current four-seater Volt is sold in Australia as a Holden for $59,990 plus on-road costs, significantly more than the larger, roomier and equally efficient Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV that retails for $47,490.
CarAdvice has contacted Holden to see whether price cuts could be on the cards. To the end of may this year just 30 Volts found homes — a drop of 43.4 per cent on the same period last year. Since launch in September 2012, only 211 have been delivered total.