It’s tough to call CIAS 2015 the greenest auto show ever in Canada when the undisputed star of the show is a gorgeous Ford GT repli-racer that will pump out 600+ hp from a small-ish ecoBOOST turbocharged V6. The fastest Ford was a hometown star to boot, as it will be built just northeast of Toronto at engineering and race outfit Multimatic’s Markham shop.
And yet that’s what it was, perhaps even moreso than this year’s electric-heavy Montreal auto show. Which is saying something, because Montreal not only had plug-ins, hybrids and EVs (plus EV contests) everywhere, it’s where Nissan Canada announced it would invest in 25 Quick Charge fast chargers in the province by 2016, a U-turn on its prior “we’re not in the infrastructure business” stance. Combined with the province’s simultaneous announcement that it would invest in another 25 DC Level 3 fast chargers to bring the new total to 50, it marked the largest fast-charging electric vehicle infrastructure investment in Canada to date.
What Toronto countered with was a major showing of Canadian green car debuts, highlighted by the GM Canada stand, where GM invited at least 50 Chevrolet Volt owners and enthusiasts to the introduction of the vehicle that has long been the best-selling plug-in vehicle in Canada. Those owners will likely be most excited about the new Volt’s longer all-electric range, which GM suggests can now extend to 80 km instead of the current one’s 61, before a more powerful but also more efficient 1.5L four-cylinder kicks in to run a generator that creates the electricity.
Other common Volt owner requests were also addressed in the new 2016 model that goes on sale this fall: the Volt now has a fifth seatbelt, although with the huge T-shaped battery still in place, rear middle riders have to straddle that huge hump, plus the high seat cushion means headroom is awful. So the new added middle passenger seat will only help shuttle around an extra child in a pinch.
The main question now is price: the ’16 Volt will almost certainly cost less than the current ’15 Volt’s $38,395 MSRP, which already included a $5,000 price reduction about mid-way through the first-gen Volt’s short four-year lifespan in Canada. GM’s executive vice president of global product development Mark Reuss stated in Detroit recently that GM has managed to cut the cost of production on the next Volt by about US$10,000; the question now is how much wiggle room will this provide Chevrolet and future Volt buyers. Remember, with that price cut, and both an advanced battery and engine onboard combined with relatively low overall sales, it’s very possible that it cost GM more than that MSRP price to produce each one.