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.

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