The Chevrolet Volt has a 35 mile all-electric range, which isn't especially high, and a pricetag of $41,000 before tax credits, which is. GM might be thinking about solving one of these problems by making the other one substantially worse.
I don't know about you, but I remember back in 2007 when GM promised that the first run of Volts would cost between $20,000 and $30,000 and have noses like moose. Both of these things have fallen by the wayside, but GM might now be considering releasing a Volt 'lite' model, which may sacrifice ten miles of range or so for a cost savings of something like $10,000. Yeah, those batteries are that expensive.
An all-electric range of only 20 miles, though, is likely not enough for a lot of commuters, who might have been a little bit worried even with a 30-40 mile range. And while $10,000 is a substantial savings, if you spend your life suffering from range anxiety, it might not be worth it. Of course, you've always got the Volt's gasoline engine as a backup, but having to rely on that partially defeats the purpose of owning this kind of car in the first place.
There's no doubt that the Volt is an expensive car, and GM is in a tough spot here. Compromising the battery pack means compromising the essence of what makes the Volt such a step forward, but without a price cut, it'll be hard for it to compete commercially with the Toyota Prius, which costs well under $30,000 brand new. Until plug-in hybrids become what the public demands, GM might need to suck it up and become the maybe not-so-profitable pioneers in this new market, opening it up for other smaller companies as they do so.