NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- General Motors (GM - Get Report) took the unusual step this week of acknowledging a future model, in this case the Chevrolet Volt 2.0. This was done in the context of announcing two factory expansions costing $449 million.
If I had been in GM's shoes, I would have waited to announce the Chevrolet Volt 2.0 -- or for that matter any new model -- until the last possible moment, perhaps a month or two before the car arrived in dealerships. Now consumers may choose to hold off buying the current Volt 1.0, expecting the production of the 2.0 to start possibly a year from now.
In any case, the development of the Volt 2.0 started most likely near the beginning of 2011, and the final body design was probably frozen near the end of 2012. That is assuming the Volt 2.0 will come in only one body style.
This is indeed one of the two major variables regarding the Volt 2.0: Will it come in only one body style or two or even more?GM knows that a top request from real and prospective plug-in car buyers is that there is a void in the market for a larger car -- something in the SUV or minivan direction. This kind of car would be much taller, fit at least five people and have ample luggage space. One could even envision two separate larger models: one that fits five people and another that fits seven. These types of cars might mimic the Ford (F) C-Max, which is available only as a five-seater in the U.S. but also comes in an additional longer body available in Europe. One advantage of such a much taller body -- whether in five-seat or seven-seat form -- is that you now have the ability to use a flat battery in the floor. This is different from today's T-shaped battery, which is suitable for a much lower car although it makes it harder to fit a third person in the back. Obviously it is entirely possible that GM keeps the current body configuration of a low-slung car and T-shaped battery. The battery could be reconfigured to make space for a third person in the back seat.