Chevy Volt Could Use Turbocharged 2.0-Liter Ecotec in 2014

By · June 14, 2012

2012 Chevy Volt

Inside EVs reports that, come 2014, the Chevy Volt's range extender will be a turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec engine. reported earlier this week that the 2014 Chevrolet Volt will ditch its 83-horsepower 1.4-liter range-extending engine in favor of GM's 2.0-liter turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder engine. The website attributed the news to an unidentified source "inside the company (GM)."

The source said the Volt's current 1.4-liter engine is "definitely not" the unit that will reside between the fenders of the 2014 Volt. The 1.4-liter four cylinder, when mated to the Volt's electric motor, pumps out a combined 149 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. But more power is in the Volt's future. said that it's almost certain that the 2014 Volt will feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec four-cylinder with an output of 220 to 270 horsepower. This engine, which is found in the current Fisker Karma, is much more potent than the current 1.4-liter and far more advanced. However, upgrading to the 2.0-liter will almost certainly require modifications to the Volt, including an upgraded electric motor and perhaps even significant revisions to the rest of the Volt's advanced powertrain.

2.0-liter Ecotec

GM's 2.0-liter Ecotec turbocharged four-cylinder engine is used in several of the automaker's existing vehicles.

Here's a snippet of how GM describes its 2.0-liter Ecotec engine:

“Our continuously variable valve timing is tuned to work in tandem with direct injection and twin scroll turbocharging to achieve optimum fuel economy, lower emissions, and instant performance when needed. Having 295 pound-feet of torque available over a wide range of engine speeds makes for a very exciting driving experience.”

As expected, General Motors "refused to confirm or deny truth of the news leak of the 2014 engine, citing the usual policy of not commenting on future product."


· Austin (not verified) · 5 years ago

This seems bogus. What use is a 200h.p. Generator when the electric power drives the car and draws from the battery. 80 h.p. Is plenty for steady state generating.

· · 5 years ago

Purely a marketing decision, you can't blame them, oil prices are low, people want muscular engines with power, so they provide them.

· · 5 years ago

I agree, Austin. I thought the whole idea behind an ICE range extender was for it to sit there, idle at the most efffient rpm setting and simply recharge the battery. Other than appeasing potentially clueless consumers who have no idea how this range extender mechanical/electrical interface is supposed to work, what possible good is being done by putting a larger, more fuel-hungy and - with turbocharging - a more complex ICE under the hood? Is Chevy going to tell potential buyers that it's going to "turbocharge" the battery more quickly?

Chevy - if anything - should be thinking along the lines of smaller ICE ranger extenders and more kiloWatts on the battery. At least they could have put a finned cast aluminum valve cover on top of it, now that they're going after the Hot Rod crowd.

· marksken (not verified) · 5 years ago

a small diesel please, it just for electricty production and heating (in winter), unless a thermo airco can be coupled in summer.

· · 5 years ago

Probably there is nothing interresting to say about efficient green car this week as there is nothing new that appear, sale of green car are near zero percent of the market so they invent news to keep their jobs. Anyway , i don't think that this new engine can be more economic and more efficient. For electrical generator something smaller would be nice instead.

· CharlesF (not verified) · 5 years ago

How about a 2.0L non-turbo Atkinson cycle that runs on regular fuel.

· · 5 years ago

I hope someone from Chevy is reading these comments. Heck, even gorr is in complete agreement with me on this one!

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

This is Silly. I own a 2011 volt, but wish it had a 1 cylinder engine and a much bigger battery for the same price. There's no reason a dinky engine couldn't run all the time while I'm inside a restaurant, recharging the battery.

Remember years ago when cars had optional drive trains, plus plenty of other options? I wish they'd offer people like me a much smaller engine, which is more efficient considering the way I drive. Chevy's move to 2.0 liter turbo seems dumb and backwards. At least Fisker Karma uses this engine to boost performance. In the Volt, it seems like a wasted effort.

· · 5 years ago

This is the exact reverse of what needs to be done. Otherwise it mean GM is letting go the whole concept of range extender electric in favor of electric boosted engines which is going backwards instead of forward. Me director at GM would simply slash a zero of those 2000 cc and make it a 200 cc, but in the same time, I would double the battery capacity and law nit flat under the car to recover the full size back seats.

· Nick Sydväster (not verified) · 5 years ago

Toyota is covering the hybrid/plugin market from the basis, Fisker and some others take the market on the top end and it seems to be that the Volt would to compete with better performance / better image?

· · 5 years ago

"· Bill Howland

There's no reason a dinky engine couldn't run all the time while I'm inside a restaurant, recharging the battery."

Or plug it in!

I agree with most comments here. It seems GM went to great lengths to distinguish the Volt as a REEV as opposed to a hybrid, with the distinction being a smaller ICE to act as a generator for the electric motor. The increase of displacement would seem to indicate a heavier reliance on the ICE, moving the Volt squarely into hybrid territory and away from REEV.

· · 5 years ago

Although I don't believe that GM is doing it for the right reason, there is something to be said for putting a somewhat larger range extender than the average or minimum dictates.
The assessment that a larger engine is less efficient than a smaller one is wrong if it is being used for a range extender if it is used correctly.
As a correctly used range extender, the ICE should only run at its most efficient power output. The efficiency of this is essentially the same no matter what the output is. In fact, more powerful ICE may be slightly more efficient than small ones because some of the parasite loads may be less significant.
The reason we assume large ICE = less efficient is because if the ICE is the primary motive power, a larger ICE means it is running way below its most efficient power output most of the time.
As a range extender, the ICE would just shut down if not needed instead operating inefficiently since the electric motor/battery would be propelling the car.
The only negative efficiency issue with a larger ICE would be more weight.

· · 5 years ago

I do not understand why the electrical motor needs to be upgraded for this. I would have assumed that the excess electricity it generates would just go in the battery. The Volt feels pretty fast already. I want economy not performance.

I agree with ex-EV1 about the weight. Most Volt drivers rarely use their ICE engine. It seems a waste to carry around a heavier engine if you rarely use it.

But time will tell. I doubted GM when the Volt was announced and now I am a very happy Volt owner. It turned out that they called it right. I am hoping that without Bob Lutz they will call the 2014 model right as well.

· · 5 years ago

This may be a trial balloon, but I agree that an ICE this "big" and powerful would be two steps back; not a step forward toward higher efficiency.

They need to find a new ICE that is much more efficient genset. There are at least three OEM's that could build them right now.

A smaller displacement ICE (800cc-1L) that *only* charges the battery would work much better: it only has to meet the *average* power required by using the battery as a buffer, it can be tuned to run at peak efficiency driving a fixed load (the current engine varies it's RPM to provide just enough power for the electric motor -- it does *not* charge the battery at all!).

The other huge advantage is the engine only runs part of the time! It only needs a smaller fuel tank and smaller cooling system. The front grill can be closed when the ICE isn't running, to have lower drag. A true serial hybrid...


· · 5 years ago

A larger electric motor will be more efficient. That's the way it works. This would mean that the electric motor would be more efficient at higher speeds. Remember, there is a shaft speed (RPMs) for an electric motor where the efficiency and torque drop due to back-EMF in the motor.
With the electric motor being efficient at highway speeds, they don't have to run the ICE to slow the maximum RPMs required of the electric motor like they do today in CS mode.
This part could be for good, not evil.
Its the turbo-charged Ecotec ICE that makes no sense to me. That engine is probably close to perfection at its ICE efficiency over the range of performance demanded by an ICE vehicle. Since the Volt is an EV, however, there doesn't seem to be any reason to put such a dynamically efficient ICE in the vehicle when a simple, constant RPM diesel or atkinson cycle ICE (as suggested by marksken and CharlesF previously) would seem more suitable.
I suspect the reality is that the ICE folks at GM want to make fancy ICE so by-golly, this car is going to get the fancy engine that they want to put in it.

· NISSANMASTTECH (not verified) · 5 years ago

To me the best part about running electric is that your maintenance and repair costs should be much lower, turbos need more maintenance are are expensive to repair.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

Seems to me most of you are overlooking the fact that ICE does couple with the electromotor at times and is not just there for generating electric power.
I'd love to have another 50 HP on mine.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

Ok, first off, the current 1.4 liter engine does couple to the wheels when running and going 66 mph or faster. If off, then its battery only obviously. GM initially totally lied about this, even surprisingly to dealers. They finally started admitting the truth when NY State classified the car as a plug-in hybrid, not an electric ("You're not fooling anyone!"). However, in the last post, Everyone missed my point: My engine in the volt only runs once a month, period. I dont want to spend huge amounts of money and space carting around something I almost never use. Some people, the way they drive, could use a 2.0 Turbo, but that was my point about options. I'd love it if they gave me the option to put in a very dinky engine (one that I rarely use anyway, and mostly to just get me out of a bind), and give me the space back as well as several thousand $.

· · 5 years ago

What's all the complaining about? The 2.0L Ecotec turbo is a better, more modern engine than the current 1.4L, and capable of higher efficiency and more power.

· · 5 years ago

OR...perhaps the 2.0L turbo engine is the 2.0L diesel that is also going to be showing up in the Chevy Cruze in 2014, which they are calling the Eco-D (wouldn't be hard for the rumor mill to mix that up with Ecotec). That would really turn the market upside down.

· · 5 years ago

@ Michael

The complain is about the sticker price, weight and space demand that a huge 2 liter turbo engine adds on the Volt. The range extender needs to be light weight, compact and cheap. It is OK to be just standard (low) efficiency since it is not supposed to run on a daily basis. On the other hand, it should be able to run as a Flex-Fuel engine to allow eventual oil independent transportation.

· · 5 years ago

@Priusmaniac, it depends on how you drive. If you want a range extender that can keep up the demands of steep hills and higher speeds, then it has to be heavier, less compact, and more expensive. A lot of people don't want to give up performance.

Agree on the Flex Fuel engine. GM does have a 2.0L Turbo Ecotec which is Flex Fuel.

Perhaps later as the market expands, they will offer different sized range extenders as options, just as they do with ICE only cars.

· · 5 years ago

Why bother with the turbo and complex valve timing system when the electric motor will do the heavy surge work. If you want better performance with an EV or PHEV, put in a more powerful electric motor. You can get phenomenal added performance (if your batteries can source the power) and your gas mileage or electric efficiency will improve.
It will give you a cheaper and more reliable ICE as well.
You have to let go of the old paradigms and embrace the new technology before it can help you.

· · 5 years ago

A turbo is essentially a bottoming cycle on a heat engine (it extracts work from the heat of the exhaust) so it increases the efficiency. That's a good thing.

This is, of course, not free: it adds weight and complexity as well. That's a bad thing.

Moreover, the only reason Fisker uses that particular engine, which is not great for an EV in the first place, is that it was the only one they could get. They plan to use a BMW engine in the "Atlantic".

Overall balance: got me! It seems odd though.

(The "best" engine for extending the range is probably a diesel genset engine. Diesel fuel has more energy per unit volume, so you get more extended range from the same number of gallons. I put "best" in quotes here because there's never really a single "best"...)

· · 5 years ago


Indeed a diesel doesn’t tend to come as light weight, compact and cheap. In more it has now been proven that diesel particles are carcinogenic. On the other hand a compact Wankel could run on bioethanol which is by definition not carcinogenic at all. Ethanol is also free of the stale fuel problem. In the context of range extenders where the overall fuel consumption is less than 10% that of a standard car, it is also compatible with the reasonably available supply.

On more choice of engine types and combinations I agree though.

· · 5 years ago

@Priusmaniac: "Ethanol is also free of the stale fuel problem."

Ethanol can cause many problems when it sits unused for a length of time. For one, it is highly corrosive. Even engines designed specifically for ethanol will still feel the effect of this. It is also hydrophilic. This means it essentially pulls moisture out of humid air and into the fuel. This is obviously not a good thing.

· Frank the Volt Owner (not verified) · 5 years ago

Perhaps the 2.0 Turbo can run slower and use less gas. Or maybe its a diesel. I remember when the turbo diesel big trucks came out and everyone was worried about fuel useage by the turbo. Turns out the engine makes more torque and uses less fuel. Now you hardly ever see a 3/4 or one ton gas truck. GM knows we want fuel economy when we buy this car, perhaps this engine will get higher mileage. It would be great if they can use this engine, get better mileage, and lower the price of the car because volumes of this engine can be made for less money. Think about it they probably have more models that can use this engine so more mass volume equals lower pricing. What else uses the 1.4 na motor?

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

@frank the volt owner

I believe the 1400 cc Opel engine was used over the 1000 cc 3 cyl that was considered simply to give the Opel plant more work. Europe is hurting these days and needs the sales.

· danwat1234 (not verified) · 5 years ago

They should not be looking to increase power of the engine, they should be looking to increase the fuel efficiency of it. Because, as it stands, the battery depleted fuel economy of the vehicle isn't outstanding. They should be looking to use an Atkinson cycle engine at the very least, like the Prius engine, but hopefully more like an HCCI engine for even more efficiency.

I agree that a bit more displacement (maybe 1.8L) is needed if going to an Atkinson cycle engine because there is less compression with an Atkinson cycle engine so a larger displacement is needed for the same power output.

Crossing my fingers

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