The next-generation of the Chevrolet Volt, one of the first plug-in cars of the modern age, will get a load of new technology and will make its world debut in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, says Tim Mahoney, Chevy's chief marketer.
Mahoney, speaking at an annual industry conference here, did not provide details, but showed a photo hinting at the extended-range plug-in hybrid's new look.
After sales for the first-generation Volt underwhelmed, GM is under pressure to deliver significant advancements. Tesla plans a pure-electric vehicle in the Volt's price range by the end of 2017.
"The overall general value proposition for the consumer has to improve, and that means ... increasing the benefit and reducing the cost," IHS Automotive analyst Tom Libby said. "It's very important to Chevrolet and GM because it gets so much visibility."
Even after a $5,000 price cut last year to about $35,000, sales are off 9% through July this year to 10,635. Chevy has sold 65,000 since it went on sale in 2010.
One encouraging sign: 69% of Volt buyers are trading in vehicles from competing brands, Mahoney said. "The Volt has done what it is supposed to do," he said. He expects greater sales with the new one. "It is easier to explain because it is a known commodity."
Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific, said he does not consider the current Volt a flop. But he said GM needs to deliver substantial improvements, including a longer-range gas generator and more appealing interior design.
"This was kind of uncharted territory for most automakers, and definitely it got people noticing that GM is not just a pickup truck and SUV company," Sullivan said.
Original headline: Next plug-in Volt to roll in January
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