GM should just bring back the Chevy Volt

General Motors’ shift from a company that makes internal combustion engines to a company that makes electric engines is sputtering. Electric vehicle sales have increased, but are growing slower than expected. In particular, the company’s next-generation Ultium platform is not meeting expectations. GM’s new electric trucks and SUVs seem eternally delayed — or riddled with buggy software.

I think I have an easy solution to many of these problems: bring back the Chevy Volt.

Remember the Volt, GM’s crummy Toyota Prius fighter from the mid-2010s? The company was praised when it first came to market in 2010 as a progressive bet on vehicles with electric powertrains. And it was undeniably a very good hybrid. The first generation model got an electric range of 56 miles before the throttle kicked in, while later versions would get as much as 56 miles of electric range.

I think I have an easy solution to many of these problems: bring back the Chevy Volt

That was enough for most people to cover their daily drive. Volt owners often boasted that they haven’t had to fill their gas tanks for months or even years.

But sluggish sales and a broader shift toward large trucks and SUVs were the undoing of the Volt, which was discontinued in 2019 as part of a broader restructuring at GM. Still, there’s no better time than now to admit your mistake and put this bad boy back into production.

Why now? Well, the first GM dealers are literally screaming for hybrids. The Wall Street Journal reported today that certain influential dealers – those who serve on GM’s advisory committees – are urging the automaker to return to the hybrid market. The reason? For many of them, electric cars remain a difficult sell.

“The dealers said they expressed concern that more and more customers are looking for a middle ground between conventional petrol-powered cars and electric cars, which are more expensive and require regular charging.” WJ reports.

Have you heard? Hybrids are so hot right now. The once-maligned Prius has a sleek new design that car critics are raving about. Ford cannot keep up with demand for the hybrid version of its compact Maverick pickup.

In general, hybrids are having a bit of a renaissance. “Hybrids are the more comfortable choice right now for the majority of Americans seeking electrified options,” says Edmunds, noting that hybrid growth by 2023 — a 65 percent increase — is much faster than pure battery-electric vehicles – only an increase of 46 percent. GM’s dealers want in on the action and look enviously at the Jeep and GMC dealers across the street.

Of course, there are credible arguments against hybrids. The current climate crisis we face now does not call for half measures – and hybrids are literally half measures. We need to dramatically reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, which is why the Biden administration is fully committed to battery EVs. This transition must happen as quickly as possible.

That’s why you see so many environmental groups going after Toyota, one of the most vocal skeptics of pure electric vehicles in favor of hybrids. The company claims it is taking a more pragmatic approach to electrification, but climate groups argue the company is not moving quickly enough to reduce carbon emissions.

If GM wanted to resurrect the Volt, it would have to do so in a way that makes clear that it is not taking resources away from electric vehicle production or delaying the promised transition to a zero-emissions company. It would also prove that there is still demand for smaller, sedan-like vehicles in the market, despite GM’s previous actions to end production of anything that isn’t a truck or SUV.

There are indications that GM will bring back certain brands if there is clear demand for them. The company originally said it would retire the Chevy Bolt, only to come back months later and rededicate to the Bolt on its next-gen Ultium platform.

It would be great to see a Chevy Volt with an Ultium-branded powertrain, proving there is room for plug-in hybrids in GM’s future lineup. It seems like a no-brainer.

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