GM is set to debut the next-generation Chevy Volt at the North American International Auto Show, which is just over five months away, taking place in Detroit in January 2015. The 2016 Chevy Volt will be the first redesign for the game-changing electric car, and details are obviously scarce since the company is going for the element of surprise. However, this morning they gave us a peek at the next design. Above you see what appears to be the rear liftgate, lit up by a sunset. My wish list? As a Chevy Volt owner, I'd like to see the 2016 model pick up a 50-mile electric range, 50 miles-per-gallon in range-extending mode, and a redesigned battery pack that will allow for three seats in the rear. We'll know more in a few months!
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As a brand, the Chevy Volt is well-known in the electric vehicle market. That said, mind-share doesn't equal sales, and GM is set to step up its efforts to make the Volt the car that EV buyers end up choosing when it's time to buy. To fix this, GM is planning on bringing down the entry-level price of the 2016 Volt, and then offering tiered upgrades, similar to the way Tesla sells the Model S.
At the low end, the 2016 Chevy Volt should cost just over $30,000, which is about $5,000 less than it currently costs now, bringing it closer in line with competing vehicles like the Honda Accord plug-in and Ford C-Max Energi. Total range of the entry-level Volt should be under 300 miles, and won't be as heavy on the upgraded feel of the car--but if those options aren't your jam anyway, then you can save yourself some money.
General Motors unveiled the long-awaited 2014 Cadillac ELR this week, the first plug-in extended range EV hybrid for the brand. For all intents and purposes, the ELR is a Chevy Volt that's been souped up with Cadillac luxury touches. Originally revealed as the Cadillac Converj, the ELR will feature a redesigned interior cabin that will supposedly define future Cadillac models, with features like Regen on Demand buttons on the steering wheel that let the driver capture the energy generated by the vehicle's momentum, conserving it for a bit more battery juice. The ELR also packs in the awesome Cadillac CUE infotainment dashboard system. The vehicle puts out 207hp, more than 25% more than the Chevy Volt. No final word yet on EV range, though, but the Volt gets about 35 miles before gasoline kicks in, and the ELR is a bit heavier. GM says that production on the ELR is set to begin later this year in preparation for a 2014 North American launch.
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GM is the first to announce Siri integration with two new car models: the Chevrolet Spark and the Sonic Drive. The feature was dubbed "Eyes Free" and was announced at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June by former iOS chief, Scott Forstall. Basically, "Eyes Free" will be integrated via the car's Bluetooth functionality and the iPhone itself. The user can then initiate Siri's voice command by tapping a button on the steering wheel, and Siri's responses will be played over the car's audio system. Other car manufacturers such as Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Jaguar, Audi, Land rover, GM, BMW and Mercedes are slated to incorporate Siri's "Eyes Free" as well. Check out the full press release after the break.
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Remember our 2012 Chevy Volt that failed while driving and almost got me in an accident? We updated the story with the details about trying to work with Chevy and GM to get a replacement Volt since we no longer felt safe driving the one we had. After all, it had been in the shop for repairs every two weeks since we had picked it up the first time. Well, we are please to report that Chevrolet and General Motors did right by us, and agreed to replace our 2012 Volt with a newer, similarly-equipped 2013 model. Since this was a lease, it was a bit more complicated than a simple trade. Instead, we did what's called a VIN swap. The result? We keep the same lease terms and paperwork, with the VIN being the only change on the documents. It took a while since the 2013 Chevy Volt wasn't available until very recently, and once it arrived, we needed to wait for all the paperwork to be completed. Still, it was worth the wait. Stay tuned for our 2013 Chevy Volt review.
We reported on the RelayRides OnStar partnership back at CES, with RelayRides using the OnStar API to broaden its network of available vehicles. RelayRides allows its members to rent cars on a short-term basis directly from the car owners. It's a peer-to-peer car-sharing network. The partnership with OnStar will allow owners of cars equipped with the OnStar service to add their vehicles to RelayRides, giving them the opportunity to rent out their vehicles for cash. Locking, unlocking, and starting the vehicle can all be performed using the RelayRides smartphone app, and OnStar has made it easy for owners to add their vehicles to the service.
It may seem a bit unorthodox to make your personal vehicle available for rental to strangers, but RelayRides does have protections in place as they look to compete with the likes of Zipcar. What do you think? Would you use a service like this?
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In case you missed it, earlier this week we detailed how the Chevy Volt malfunctioned and nearly caused a high-speed collission while we were driving it. We've had plenty of readers writing in to ask for an update on the Chevy Volt fisaco that we've found ourselves embroiled in. We definitely planned on hitting you guys with an update on how Chevrolet and General Motors address the situation that we're facing once all was said and done, but since it's taking a bit longer than we'd hoped, and since there have been a couple of new developments, we figured we'd do an interim report.
Before we get into some of the good, we've gotta say right up front that dealing with Chevy/GM as a corporate entity has been frustrating. It seems that it's goal is to tell us that there is nothing they can do, with the hope that this will just go away, rather than doing whatever it can to ease the concerns of a customer who's done nothing but praise it's flagship product all the way up until it put us in harms way. More on that later.
Update 1: We're trying to deal with Chevy to get resolution that both us and the dealer believes to be the best option. GM would rather us forget about everything, it seems.
We've been keeping tabs on the Chevy Volt ever since the electric vehicle was unveiled in September 2008. We covered the 230 MPG announcement, and were on-hand for the introduction of the OnStar Mobile Integration announcement which showed how you would be able to send commands from your smartphone directly to your Volt (and other OnStar-equipped vehicles) remotely. While there were other pure EVs out there, the maximum range would leave some stranded without any other option but getting towed while the Volt had a gas tank that could run a generator to continue creating electric power even when the pure electric battery ran out. The Volt, in our minds, was the car of the near-future. Until EV range is bumped high enough to never cause charge anxiety, Chevy's flagship EV provided the best trade-off. So we leased one. That's where things started to go very wrong.
If you're planning on picking up Cadillac's new flagship vehicle this summer, the XTS, and you're also considering picking up an iPad, you'll wanna wait on that tablet purchase. In an effort to help new XTS buyers get familiar with the new Cadillac CUE infotainment system, the company is going to be throwing in an iPad with the purchase of each XTS sedan. The tablet will come preloaded with interactive manuals and tutorials that show off and explain all the features that CUE has to offer.
Apps that will be preloaded include OnStar RemoteLink, MyCadillac, and a custom app that specifically teaches buyers about the new CUE infotainment system. Check out a preview of Cadillac CUE that we shot, below.
In the world of EVs, the quicker you can charge your vehicle when on the go, the better. That's one stark difference between the electric cars and their gas counterparts--while you're saving money from not having to visit the pump, you're certainly losing out on time. Well, that's about to change, as several EV manufacturers have agreed on a new 20-minute fast-charging standard that'll take you from empty to full within 20 minutes. It's called DC Fast Charging with a Combined Charging System, and the folks over at Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, GM, Porsche, and Volkswagen has all agreed that this is the future.
Oh, and to be clear, this really is the future. As in, don't expect to see vehicles that support the stndard for another year or so. Heck, over in Europe, the ACEA isn't even guaranteeing that you'll see charging stations adopting the standard over there until 2017. Hopefully things pick up a little quicker than that here in the US.