The next Chevrolet Volt will break a psychological barrier, topping 100 MPGe, if the company’s CEO has his way.
The plug-in hybrid, already a segment leader in electric-only range, is receiving an overhaul to its battery system in order to squeeze out enough lithium-ion juice to allow the number that's prominently displayed on new vehicle labels to hit three-digit territory, which could boost future sales.
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) may have recently knocked $5,000 off the price of its slow-selling plug-in hybrid but it clearly hasn’t given up on plug-in hybrid technology. The 2013 model can travel 38 miles on battery power alone before it has to switch to gasoline-only.
GM CEO Dan Akerson said the next generation Volt will get at least 20 percent more electric-only range.
From Automotive News Europe:
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"We hope to extend that significantly," Akerson said during an interview on Bloomberg Radio, scheduled to be broadcast in September. "For something to be significant to me, I've got to get at least a 20 percent improvement in performance. If we can get it up to 50, 60 miles or more, we will, but that's going to be another three to four years out."
Plug-in hybrids have pretty dismal electric-only ranges, but the more they can get from their batteries the higher the electric equivalent rating, known as MPGe, that appears on the window stickers in dealer showrooms.
The 2013 Volt boasts 98 MPGe for combined city/highway driving. A 20 percent boost would easily push the MPGe above 100.
GM sold 11,643 Volts in the U.S. in the first seven months of the year, a 9.2 percent increase from last year. The Volt was released in 2010.
Here are the leading hybrid plug-in sedans and their electric-only ranges. The mileage is based on EPA ratings and varies widely based on individual driving techniques and terrain.
Chevrolet Volt – 38 miles
Volvo V60 Plug-in – 31 miles
Ford Fusion Energi (and C-Max compact) – 21 miles
Honda Accord Plug-in – 13 miles
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid – 11 miles
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that MPGe was the combined electric/gas mileage. In fact it is the equivalent of the miles per gallon of gas when the vehicle is running solely on battery power. The range is how far the vehicle can drive solely on battery power before the charge is depleted.