GM unveiled a sleeker, sportier and stronger accelerating second-generation plug-in hybrid, PHEV, Chevrolet Volt at the Detroit Motor Show. Although the Chevy Volt has been around for a few years, we were impressed with our test drive of the 2015 model. The car has improved on quality. Here is what the new Chevy Volt has in store for us.
2016 Chevy Volt Impresses with a Redesign
As we mentioned above, we were very impressed with the 2015 model which showed a serious quality effort from GM, but the new 2016 Volt adds on top of it with a much improved redesign. The styling is refreshed, more aggressive and modern. If you recall, many felt GM let them down after showing a beautiful prototype and releasing the final version. Although the lines somewhat follows the trends well exemplified with Toyota’s styling, it gives the Volt an even more futurist look without going overboard.
2016 Chevy Volt Impresses With Improved Technology
Taking a cue from the Cadillac ELR, the Volt will use the new and improved Voltec platform currently used by Cadillac. The better acceleration is largely due to the two electric motors used. What is interesting is that GM also took a cue from Tesla Motors’ successful Model S P85D, the Dual Motor and how one electric motor is optimized for low speeds and the second for higher speeds. This means the higher speed electric motor can be used at low speed to quickly accelerate. However, Elon Musk was quick to point out that there were difference, and that, of course the Model S’ management system is much better.
If the 2015 Volt improved with better overall quality and handling, the 2016 goes further with an electric range of 50 miles instead of 38. All of this done using the same-size battery pack as the previous model, but with bigger cells with an overall drivetrain that is 12% more efficient and 100 pounds (45 kg) less than the current system.
LG Chem says the battery pack was completely redesigned and now uses larger cells than previously while reducing weight by 21 pounds (9.8 kg) lighter. The original Volt’s 17.1 kWh battery pack is now replaced with a 18.4 kWh one. GM quotes the discharge rate at 120 kW, up from the original 110 kW with an interesting statement: “with regular charging, owners are expected to travel more than 1,000 miles on average between gas fill-ups.” We would like to know how you interpret this.
This could be due to the fact that GM used to claim that the Volt wasn’t a PHEV but an Extended Range Electric Vehicle, which confused many. Add to this the constant “range anxiety” fear thrown at the general public, and GM found an unintended consequence, Volt owners experienced gasoline range anxiety. Most Volt owner report driving in electric mode as much as possible, trying not to use the gasoline engine.
Although today GM sees Tesla Motors as a threat, the real competition to the Volt has been the electric Nissan Leaf with sales of 30,200 in 2014 in the US, up 33.6% from 2013 compared to the 2014 Volt sales hovering at 18,805, a drop of 18%.6 from 2013. The second-generation Volt won’t be available until the middle of 2015, but we feel it might have the right advantages to bump up sales/ We hope competition will come from the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Ford Energi line, not electric cars. Pricing has not been announced yet.
2016 Volt highlights:
- New two-motor drive unit is up to 12 percent more efficient and 100 pounds lighter (45 kg) than the first-generation drive unit
- Two-motor design enables 19 percent stronger zero-to-30 mph acceleration
- Battery capacity has increased to 18.4 kWh using 192 cells (96 fewer than current generation) with weight reduced by more than 20 pounds
- Regen on Demand™ feature enables driver control of energy regeneration via a convenient paddle on the back of the steering wheel
- New 1.5L range extender, designed to use regular unleaded fuel, offers a combined GM-estimated fuel efficiency of 41 mpg (EPA estimate pending)
- Stronger body structure and quieter ride
- New braking system with improved capability and blended Regen feel
- New, five-passenger seating with available rear heated seats
- Location-based charging capability
- 120V portable cord set has a simpler, compact design with more convenient storage location
- Available illuminated charge port
- The 2016 Volt goes on sale in the second half of 2015.
Overall, the 2016 Volt impresses us with a cleaner look and raised performance and if the price comes down, it will have no problem doing better than it has in the past.
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