Next-Generation 2016 Chevy Volt Will Be More Efficient and Powerful

By · October 31, 2014

2016 Chevy Volt Teaser Image

GM is providing this teaser image in advance of revealing the 2016 Volt at the Detroit auto show in January.

We are approaching the four-year anniversary of the introduction of the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF. Since that time, it’s been exciting to watch the release of one new plug-in model after the next. But the most promising developments could be just around the corner: new and improved second-generation battery-powered models, starting with the Volt.

General Motors is expected to reveal a new Volt design in January at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Modest changes in 2015 included an increase in battery storage to 17.1-kWh; standard 4G LTE; and a new exterior color (Iridescent Pearl Tricoat).

With a move to a lighter and more capable battery pack for the 2016 model, the Volt’s all-electric driving range is expected to surpass the 40-mile mark. Many owners already experience this level of range in real-world driving—but across the board, all Volt drivers should see something like a 20 percent increase in miles driven before the gas engine is fully required.

Debates from a few years ago about whether the Volt is an electric car or a hybrid appear to be in the rear-view-mirror. GM said that the second-generation powertrain, using a new two-motor unit, would allow for use of internal combustion for more driving conditions—situations when the vehicle’s power and overall efficiency would be optimized, even if means using a few drops of gasoline. Still, GM said that the pure EV mode would cover about 90 percent of driving for most owners.

The gasoline engine will be beefed up from 1.4 liters to a more powerful and more efficient 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The new powerplant does not require premium gasoline like the current version. GM engineers said that the use of regular fuel would not have an effect on performance. Efficiency while using gasoline is expected to increase from 37 miles per gallon to about 40 mpg. At the same time, the slightly larger engine will provide a quieter ride.

Changes: Incremental or Radical?

The Volt’s battery pack will continue to come in a T shape—raising doubts that the model will be offered with five-passenger capability, rather than the current four-passenger arrangement. It’s a four-seater due to a tunnel running the length of the cabin. The battery pack will sit about a half-inch lower.

Any speculation about a lower price tag, or multiple body styles, is guesswork until GM unveils the new Volt in January in Detroit. A lower price and/or a dramatic styling update would likely have a more impact on increasing sales—more significant than the announced incremental gains in EV range, power and efficiency. GM wants to jumpstart interest in the Volt; sales of the Volt in 2014 are currently running about 13 percent lower than last year.

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt is expected to launch in the second half of 2015.


· · 3 years ago

I wonder how many people are put off by allowing the engine to drive the wheels directly. I love the Volt but I am getting tired of the comments that the Volt is not an EV. With the new car it seems to be moving closer to a Prius rather than being like a Leaf.

Also I know how much I hate the engine coming on even for a couple of minutes when the car is cold. I burn an entire tank of gas each winter whilst staying entirely in EV range. I know I am going to hate getting a Prius type behavior where the gas engine come on when ever you are not super careful with the accelerator.

· · 3 years ago


You are assuming that the Volt will not have a lockout mode in which you can force full acceleration without the engine. In contrast to your position, I have wondered why Chevy did not design the Volt to take advantage of its relatively large engine for acceleration. At least one person has hacked his Volt to do that, and claims he gets 0-60 in 5 seconds. Such performance is anything BUT "Prius-type behavior". That would certainly help sell the car!

We all want to see the Volt transition to more and more EV, with less and less gasoline usage. But GM has to use the batteries currently available. Today's batteries aren't leaps and bounds better than the ones available in 2010.

· · 3 years ago

Not mentioned in this article is the fact that the Nissan leaf will have over 200 mile range next year.

Gas powered cars days are numbered. The sooner the US auto manufacturers figure this out the better.

I am driving a leaf right now is the best car I've ever had. It's a smooth and quiet as a Cadillac. I'm really not sure why you'd want to add some little four cylinder motor just to make noise and need oil changes.

· · 3 years ago


That wasn't mentioned because it won't happen. If you have been following the string of press releases from Nissan, you'd know that what will likely happen is a 2x range increase (160 miles on the EPA scale) in the next generation Leaf. That won't be released in 2015. It will be released in the spring of 2017, probably as a 2018 model. This is the end of their "Power 88 Plan" which has been referenced in the past.

The 2016 may have some small nominal range increase, but I would put money on the range being below 100 miles EPA.

Any way you slice it, though, our Gas powered days are certainly numbered. The number just might be a little higher than you are suggesting.

P.S. I having been driving a Leaf since 2012 and I love it. I cannot wait until I can afford to replace my hybrid with a longer-range BEV.

· · 3 years ago

I'm in a Prius right now. I'd like my next car to be a Volt, but I need at least 50 mpg on my road trips like I get on my Prius before I switch to a Volt. I have no problem with the Volt burning a bit of gasoline at times. If Chevy would put in a 'Road Trip" mode in which the engine would turn on only when the car would be getting over 50 mpg while charging, and in that mode, would allow the batteries to come up to 80% of full charge, then I would get that gas mileage without any hardware update, and I would buy a Volt right now. This would be a software upgrade that could be installed in cars that are on the road today.

· · 3 years ago


Don't forget that a Volt travels the first 38 miles without any gasoline, even on a road trip. The 2015 Volt will get 50MPG on a 146-mile road trip:

146 - 38 = 107 miles on gasoline
107 miles / 37MPG = 2.9 gallons
146 total miles / 2.9 gallons = 50MPG

Any longer trip will be worse (approaching 37MPG) and any shorter trip will be better.

Ask yourself how many road trips you really take that are longer than 146 miles. Then consider how many shorter trips you take, where you are getting much better than 50MPG. Most people will find that a Volt will use far less gasoline (per year, not for one specific trip) than a 50MPG Prius. There are edge cases, too, of course.

The 2016 Volt will be even better. But the point remains - even if the CS MPG is less than your Prius, you will likely find a Volt burns far less gas.

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