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Chevy Volt given the electric chair
12.03.2018 - by John U'Ren
Chevy Volt given the electric chair

The Chevrolet Volt, one of the most iconic and important electric cars of the 21st century, will be history after 2019.

Since it originally went on sale in December 2010, it has occupied a unique position in the American plug-in car lineup as the only true extended range electric vehicle on the market and will be sorely missed. At 53 miles of electric range, it has enough legs for the vast majority of daily driving needs, and with a further 350+ miles with the gasoline generator, the ability to make long road trips at the drop of a hat.  The Volt was and is a no-compromise EV that’s even practical for EV drivers in states where EV chargers are few and far between. The Volt has often been a major stepping-stone vehicle for prospective EV drivers wary of jumping into the deep end of all-electrics. Together with the Bolt, it gave GM a nice suite of vehicles that met a variety of driver needs.

And the Volt is a great car. It’s quick, responsive, roomy, sleek, and solidly built. Consumer Reports has consistently rated the Volt highly, and Chevy Volt owners are ardent defenders of their steeds.

So what’s happening here? Why is GM killing an excellent product that fits so uniquely into the EV marketplace?

Well, the Volt is a great car, and therein lies the problem. Sales of GM’s cars have been steadily declining in recent years as consumers show a clear preference for crossovers and SUVs. The Volt has also been a comparatively low-volume vehicle, although this is more a function of GM’s production decisions and lack of dealership enthusiasm for EVs than consumer demand. The Volt’s assembly line at the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly Plant is co-located with other sedans that GM plans to cut: the Chevy Impala, Cadillac CT6, and Buick LaCrosse. The plant itself is scheduled for “unallocation”—a euphemism for shuttering—in 2019. Keeping the lights on and the tooling turning for a 20,000-unit per year model makes little business sense.

At the same time, GM swears it is doubling down on its investment in electrification, and rumors have been swirling for almost a year that the third generation Volt would be a crossover SUV—although nothing has been announced publicly. Given the amount of money, time, and resources that GM has poured into the Voltec powertrain (which is markedly different from the Bolt’s BEV II powertrain), it would be a shame for the market and a big loss for GM to end development and production of a mature design. It would make much more sense for GM to migrate the Voltec powertrain to a crossover SUV platform that would be a mass-production, affordable extended range electric vehicle. We look forward to any good news from GM on this front.

Ultimately, the Volt has been an essential part of bringing America into the electric vehicle age, and will always hold a prominent place in EV history. Alongside the Nissan LEAF, the Volt gave the average American the ability to make the switch and drive electric, and provided the initial proof of market validation that Americans do want EVs and will buy them.

Hopefully this isn’t the end of the road for such an iconic EV.

38 comments on “Chevy Volt given the electric chair”
  1. awdrifter says:

    The first gen are pretty old now, buy one with dead battery and swap a LS3 in there.

  2. Jon says:

    Why do people denigrate the Volt because it’s not a pure EV and has a range extending gasoline engine? Don’t they understand that one-car families like mine must be able to take longer trips than a EV can cover without the inconvenience of trying to plan their trip around finding charging stations that may not even exist along the route? I vacation a lot in Maine and Canada. Find me any charging stations in that neck of the woods. You’d have me give up travel to those areas or have me rent a gas car for the trip? I had 32K miles on my 2017 Volt, 80% on battery alone. That’s not good enough gas avoidance for the EV purists? Not everyone travels just the Interstates or uses their car just for commuting. A PHEV is a great car to have until the future when BEV’s are more practical for people like me. I plan to keep my 2019 Volt until I’m on the wrong side of the grass.

  3. Paul Terwilliger says:

    Great world class quality vehicle with worst marketing and accounting ever by company! Owned 40 cars including Benz and Cadillac and driven hundreds of others including Prius and Bolt (great vehicle to drive). Leased a Volt for three years with 220 mpg over 22k miles and 0 issues. Needed better drivers seat and more sound proofing only. A year ago purchased an outstanding Cadillac ELR and have exceeded 1,000 mpg true mileage with solar panels and no issues. Where is the SUV that can carry and tow and a pick up or 2 ?? Where is the marketing?? I applaud GM for going all electric, but where is the infrastructure?? Shuttered plants need to be utilized and employ people who will buy these vehicles. How about making batteries and even exchangeable batteries and utilize existing service stations with solar panels etc. and battery exchanges so ranges can be easily extended. Is GM going to be a leader in the industry or become Sears? Since they suicided a great world class vehicle, the volt, I hope they have a world class plan.

  4. Edward Ellyatt says:

    I have owned 3 Volts and there are now 6 volts in the family due to me. Just imagine what GM could have accomplished with a little advertising. I have driven all around town using nothing but electric. I have driven across country about 8 times using the gas generator. Genius

  5. Smithers says:

    Those who Poo Poo’ed the Volt as just another hybrid are sorely mistaken – and need to look into the Voltec powertrain which was unique among electric cars. It was and is a true electric car with a range extender engine (generator) and does not need to ever run the gasoline motor except to keep the gas from spoiling. Until the nationwide charging network expands to rural areas and you can get a full public charge in less than 4-6 hours the Voltec powertrain is a needed bridge from the present into the quickly changing future. Ill be holding onto my 2018 Volt until the wheels fall off.

  6. Byron Smith says:

    I recently purchased an off lease 2015 Chevy Volt Premium with 19,000 miles on it. I have owned two Civic Hybrids, a Prius, and a Nissan Leaf (hated the Leaf as the battery degraded and only gave us about 50 miles of range). The Volt with its extended range is perfect. I have driven 700 miles and put 2 gallons of Shell Premium in it. Let’s see. Using “Old School” math, that would be 350 miles per gallon. SCORE!

  7. Michael Pardo says:

    I have a strange feeling that GM did not want the Volt to succeed. How many commercials or full page ads did you see on it? Exactly! None. I’ve owned 3 Prius’ and have to say the Volt blows it away on power, looks and MPG. Why couldn’t GM compared it to the Prius and showed all its advantages along with its $7000 federal tax credit? Even one of the top guys at a large dealership told me not to buy it. Why? I’m not a conspiracy theorist but something strange is afoot at the circle K.

  8. Tom Cowley says:

    if you like your Volt you’ll love the Bolt

  9. Mike Mercer says:

    REBRANDING, this is exactly what GM is doing… five production plants are closing , Detroit Hamtramack being one of them for the Chevrolet VOLT, it’s time has come and gone for now , BOLT dominates the scene and the best is yet to come…2023 for when GM restructures , retools and sets a new path for the implementation and exposure to the new form of transportation called the autonomous age. We’re on the beginning of an apocalypse of our current form of transportation to migrate to zero emissions, zero crashes, zero congestion!!!

  10. O. Copy says:

    On the contrary, instead of just another SUV/CUV, I suggest GM put the Voltec powertrain into something sexy—a small, two seater convertible. I’d love to toss around an electrified halo car the size of a Miata/Spider 2000 or a Boxster.

  11. Jeffrey says:

    The Volt is not an electric car. No hybrid is, it is a gas powered car with an electric motor. The Bolt, not Volt, is the electric car. Nothing important about a hybrid nor it being removed apart from the resources used for it should be used for a true electric car.

  12. Shan C says:

    I love my 2016 leased Volt in spite of its harsh ride and challenging entry/exit for tall old arthritic people such as myself. I had hoped that the new seat in the 2019 would solve the problem. It’s a great seat and offers much more support for the spine BUT it’s still so low that the egress/ingress issues remain. The car itself is a blast. Needs little to no service except for two OnStar modules that have failed. Love the torque and the intown driving. I have used full electric 87% of the 23,000 miles I have put on it, and I charge with 110 out of the dining room.

  13. John Sansone says:

    Since childhood GM cars were always my favorites, and still are. My fully-loaded 2012 Volt was a great car. It had over 90,000 miles on it when I traded it in for a fully-loaded 2016 Volt. The 2016 Volt is even better in every way. The 2012 Volt had great pickup, but the 2016 Volt is has even better pickup and speed plus so many great features – even better than my 2005 Pontiac Bonneville GXP with the NorthStar engine and heads-up display. I have eagerly awaited the arrival of the 3rd gen autonomous Volt. If it doesn’t arrive, perhaps the SUV version will interest me. If not, then I will probably go for the Tesla Model S or maybe the then current Nissan Leaf with its super-speed and self-charging features.

  14. John S. says:

    I love our 2014 Volt. I was looking forward to buying another in the future. It was the perfect car for us. The engineering put into this vehicle is amazing. Very sad about this decision by GM. I would like to see the beefed-up volt technology put into a 4wd truck. For me that would be a winner as well.

  15. Charles Hough says:

    The Volt has a good platform and drive train with a less than useful and unimaginative body. I was hoping they would come out with a sqiareback or crossover instead of killing it.

  16. Charlie says:

    I agree that the Volt will be missed. I had a 2011 Volt and traded it in for a 2014 Cadillac ELR which has the same electrical features. I still have the ELR and I love it!

  17. John Webb says:

    Very sorry to hear of the Volt’s demise. I love my Volt and would buy another one if this one ever wears out. It’s well built, performs and handles great, and is so far, trouble free.

  18. Joyce says:

    previously I had a Leaf. There are not enough charging stations for anything but Tesla models. I could not go everywhere I wanted to go and not be stranded. My son had a 2014 Volt that I fell in love with. I asked him to give it to me. Well after a year of decision making he gave it to me for my birthday. I absolutely love it. I can go anywhere I want and still get back home. He spent some time looking at other used Volt models but has not found just the right one yet. He was hoping that gm would put the drive train in a suv or small pick up. What a waste of a great thing! Well I will be keeping mine.

  19. Martin says:

    Owned one, extremely happy. Had to sell because of a year abroad.
    Its size made it less versatile but that was made up for by the lack of range issues. Drove very long distance with four people.

  20. Prof Jerry says:

    We lease a 2017 VOLT and love it. We also have a 10 year old Honda Accord. GM’s decision to terminate the VOLT will influence our decision whether to purchase our VOLT when the lease expires. It is a superior car used daily for a 60 mile rt commute. When we leased the VOLT in July 2017 the salesperson knew very little about it, certainly less than I did. Rumor has it that each VOLT costs GM about $88K and the car rarely needs service. The Owners’ Manual recommends service every two years! So the dealer loses out on service and the manufacturer loses out on the high cost of putting a “compliance” vehicle on the road. The BOLT is easier to assemble and considerably more profitable, though it requires even less service than the VOLT. GM was unhappy with the success of the EV-1 and it also got the axe. We always purchased Mercedes and Hondas,until we got the VOLT, an excellent vehicle for most people. I’m hoping the VOLTEC platform is used in another vehicle and will still cost under $35K. But I’m not in charge!

  21. Richard Paul Steeb says:

    OK, GM, then sell Hamtramck plant to Tesla. Like the Fremont NUMMI plant deal. Save Hamtramck, and help save the planet.

  22. Bob says:

    I have owned 2 Volts over the last 7 years and love the car. Would be a shame to see it disappear. I’ve been dreaming about electric vehicles since i was a kid and saw the Minisima electric car at a NYC car show round about 1970. Was always hoping to own electric one day and the day FINALLY arrived 🙂

  23. Dale says:

    Why the Prius over the Volt? Because the folks at GM couldn’t figure out, or couldn’t be bothered to figure out, how to let the general public know what a Volt was all about. I’m not even going to go into the dealership bias against the Volts. The fact that the Volt was as successful as it was given those roadblocks speaks volumes about the vehicle itself.

  24. Kelli Butler says:

    The Volt is a perfect vehicle for us, and for many people– we’re so sad to see it go!! Using no gas for work and back (25 miles away), comfortable and great acceleration, never worrying when we have to go on a long road trip, and being able to plug in to the regular power in our house overnight to recharge, makes the Volt an ideal car. We need to educate the masses— the Volt is worry-free!

  25. Greg Roers says:

    The Volt was my first EV and I really liked the car. I just wanted to get back to a higher perspective and chose the Pacifica Hybrid as my replacement. The Volt provided much more control of car and I recommend it to all who want a sporty EV.

  26. Wilma says:

    Proud to be my neighborhood trendsetter. Out of 60 cars in a two block area, there are now four Volts. Wonder where we’ll get parts a few years down the line!

  27. David Borden says:

    I own a ’17 Volt and I think it is the best sedan that Chevy has made since the 1957 models. It’s different and the dealers and salesmen don’t understand just how innovative and great a car it is, and sales reflected that. It sold to knowledgeable consumers. I hope GM does bring the “Voltec” power package over into an SUV Platform with air ride. That would correct the sedan’s deficiencies. The amounts spent on wind tunnel body development should be regarded as additions to general corporate knowledge; chances are those lessons are already showing up in current products. To all things a time and place ….

  28. Dan F says:

    I wonder if we should keep our Volt once our lease ends in 1 year.. Any thoughts?

  29. Bill Bugbee says:

    I took delivery of my fully optioned 2012 Volt in November 2011, and just as Republicans were on a congressional safety witch hunt to kill the Volt as sales was just taking off. The Volt was a real game changer for too many reasons to list, and as a result immediately developed market force and political enemies.

    But who could argue with seven years of trouble-free ownership, and 34K miles later, 454 mpg lifetime mileage average, 2 oil changes, 2 tire rotations, 98% original battery charge life, and my Volt is still going strong.

    The gen-1 volt was (is) far superior to the gen-1 Leaf in both looks and performance, but it was also nice to have had choices of two initial EV market introductions, at the time. The end of Volt production by GM has been described by the talking heads in the auto and financial sectors as a “failure”. But the real failure lays squarely with in the lap of GM, which failed to communicate (market) to the public the benefits of EREV, while the buying public mostly associated with EV’s with golf carts and range anxiety. You’d think GM sell the Volt with the same commitment as their trucks and suvs, and put place a compensation model for their fossil-fueled dealerships, who mostly hated the Volt due to its low revenue return on effort and educational selling challenges.

    The gen-1 Volt will remain a classic with its muscular design. With nearly 200,000 units sold, most still on the road today, coupled to bargain basement prices for used Volts, there is a bright aftermarket future in CA’s customize aftermarket outlets, e.g., potential full EV conversion, performance enhancements, and software upgrades. GM may abandon the Volt, but many current Volt owners have enjoyed the ride so far with GM mostly absent, and have no plans to abandon one the best cars ever made by GM.

  30. Andre Amore says:

    With automakers doubling down on trucks and SUVs, and government cutting spending and support for clean energy, it’s clear the top income earners are only looking out for themselves in the short term.

  31. bhoward says:

    The Chevy Volt is a plugin hybrid – not an “electric car.” Yes, It saves a lot of gas but it still uses gas and oil.

  32. Bruce says:

    We still drive our 2011 Volt, and now a Bolt as well. I would love to see the Voltec powertrain be migrated to a pickup truck! I know several people who are ready to buy when a plug-in pickup is available.

  33. Lalita Malik says:

    Will be sad to see the Volt’s demise. For me the Volt is perfect PIH for reasons mentioned in the article above. It is my only car and meets my green driving needs. I hope GM continues to use the base technology and premise of the Volt (electric and gas), in new EVs they develop. I will hold onto my 2017 Volt until another PIH arrives on the scene with a longer EV range (100+ miles) on electric. That will give sufficient range on electric for most trips.

  34. George delaFuente says:

    I truly believe the Volt wasn’t anything to applaud.about as it was truly a plug in hybrid, and just because the drive train was powered by a battery, it was not a Zero Emission electric car. It WAS one of the first nicer looking electric powered hybrid vehicles compared to the Leaf and Prius. I don’t feel this car will be missed, as more EV models are on the way and will also be more affordable due to competition.

  35. sheila laffey says:

    I LOVE my 2016 Volt and after much thought decided to purchase it this month when the 3 year lease ends. I’d prefer a Bolt to use NO GAS but at this time can’t plug in at my multi condo building. But I can plug in at work once a week so the Volt is ok for now. But i still have the long term goal of getting off fossil fuels (tho electric does still use the grid).

  36. Nick Andrews says:

    Your article on the Volt is spot on. I’ve owned many cars over the years, including a Prius hybrid and a Prius plug in. For my driving style and comfort, both physically and psychologically, the Volt is the best.

  37. Gil Good says:

    Toyota built the Prius V, a modification of the Prius hatchback. The shape of the Volt seems to lend itself for reconfiguring the rear to the SUV shape. Why are US auto makers so oblivious to what is achievable?

  38. John says:

    Americans decided they would rather buy a Prius by a factor of 10 even though they did not compare to the Volt. They are great I had one for three years but switched to a Bolt last year.

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