General Motors shoots to lower Volt sticker price by thousands


General Motors believes it can reduce the cost of the next-generation Chevrolet Volt by “thousands” of dollars, GM North America President Mark Reuss said tonight.

GM hasn’t announced when it might introduce a redesigned version of the plug-in Volt, which first hit showrooms in fall 2010. A redesigned version is likely still at least a few years away.

Still, the price of electric vehicles is viewed as a key obstacle preventing mass consumer adoption. Nissan this week said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that it would reduce the price of its pure-electric Leaf about $6,000 to a base price of $28,800.

The Volt currently starts at about $40,000. The vehicle’s lithium-ion battery allows it to travel 38 miles on electricity before a gasoline engine kicks in. The Leaf can travel about 73 miles on a single charge, but it does not have an engine to back up the battery.

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In 2012, Volt sales rose 205.8% to 23,461 units while Leaf sales edged up 1.5% to 9,819. Meanwhile, California-based start-up Tesla Motors said it would deliver 20,000 units of its luxury electric Model S in 2013.

GM on Tuesday revealed the all-new Cadillac ELR, which is based on the Volt powertrain and could compete for buyers with the Model S.

Reuss said the suggestion that electric vehicles have stalled is an “urban myth” and said GM believes an affordable car with 300 miles of electric range is reachable.

Reuss said GM would benefit if it decides to customize a vehicle platform for the Volt instead of repurposing an existing platform like it did on the current version when it chose to use the same architecture it uses for the Chevy Cruze.

He also said:

GM would invest $1.5 billion to expand operations in North America in 2013.

–Chevrolet may tweak some aspects of its globalization strategy.

“We’re not everywhere with Chevrolet and I don’t think we should be,” he said. “I’m not sure we have the right market scope with Chevrolet. There may be some changes there because we’re participating in some places where it’s not a place that’s going to change and grow. Therefore we have to go after the places where we can capture the growth first.”

–Autonomous vehicles could be 10 years away, but won’t be plausible until the industry and governments agree on safety protocols about how vehicles communicate with each other and with infrastructure.

–GM can revitalize its struggling Germany-based Opel brand.

“We know how to engineer very good products there, we can get that back,” he said.

Contact: Nathan Bomey at 313-223-4743 or

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