2013 Chevy Volt adds range, not price

2013 Chevy Volt adds range, not price
The 2013 Volt will offer drivers a little extra all-electric range when it goes on sale in August
The 2013 Volt will offer drivers a little extra all-electric range when it goes on sale in August
View 3 Images
The 2013 Volt will offer drivers a little extra all-electric range when it goes on sale in August
The 2013 Volt will offer drivers a little extra all-electric range when it goes on sale in August
The Volt has been popular in California, where it earns drivers HOV privileges
The Volt has been popular in California, where it earns drivers HOV privileges
The 2013 Volt interior in "spiced red"
The 2013 Volt interior in "spiced red"
View gallery - 3 images

GM announced this week that the 2013 Chevy Volt, which will go on sale in August, will get a boost in electric range and efficiency. The automaker has tinkered with the formula of its lithium-ion battery to provide a few extra miles.

Plug-in vehicle manufacturers must have all kinds of trepidation when it comes time for the official US Environmental Protection Agency rating. The EPA has a way of messing up marketing materials big time. In the case of Fisker, the official EPA rating cut the Fisker Karma's claimed 50 miles (80.5 km) of all-electric range down to 32 (51.5 km). Combined with the low, SUV-like 20 mpg (11.8 L/100km) the EPA stickered in for gas-only mileage, it was quite a blow to the Karma's image.

In GM's case, it wasn't quite as bad, but there was still a bit of fallout. In the months leading up to the Volt's December 2010 launch, GM was ever-eager to point to a study showing that 80 percent of Americans drive 40 miles (64 km) or less every day. That worked out pretty well because GM originally estimated the Volt's all-electric range at that very 40 miles, later revising it to between 25 to 50 miles (40 to 80.5 km). Essentially, assuming a 40-mile range, the Volt could serve as a full-blooded EV for the majority of Americans, almost lending credibility to GM's insistence on referring to the Volt, a series hybrid, as an electric vehicle.

Enter the EPA and a flat 35-mile (56-km) all-electric range rating. That may have been smack in the middle of GM's range, but it sure took the the effectiveness out of the whole "40 miles a day" claim. Five mpgs may not be a huge difference, but it kind of fudges the averages - it would seem there wasn't a study for what percentage of Americans drive 35 miles or less every day.

GM is slowly inching its way toward that 40-mile rating. The automaker announced yesterday that the 2013 Volt will travel 38 all-electric miles (61 km) on a single charge. After the first 38 electric miles, the Volt's range-extending gas engine kicks in to deliver an additional 340 miles (547 km) or so. The new model will also improve its electric fuel economy rating, leaping from 94 mpg-e to 98 mpg-e (2.4 L/100km equivalent).

GM says that it's made changes to the size and composition of the Volt's battery based upon the driving experiences of Volt owners. The battery is now 16.5 kWh instead of 16 kWh. GM has also changed the chemical composition of the battery.

While it doesn't go into specifics on its chemistry, Bill Wallace, GM director of Global Battery Systems Engineering, explains (for a five-year-old audience?): "The best way to explain what we’ve done at the cell level is to compare it to a cake batter recipe. Sometimes if you use more sugar and less vanilla you get a better tasting cake. We’ve done some work at the cell level to modify the ‘ingredients’ to make a better end result."

The Volt has been popular in California, where it earns drivers HOV privileges
The Volt has been popular in California, where it earns drivers HOV privileges

As you might expect, the slight size boost also means a slight increase in charging time. The new Volt battery will take 10.5 hours to charge when using a 120-volt outlet and 4.25 hours to charge when using the optional 240-volt charger (up from 10 hours and 4 hours, respectively).

In what could be viewed as good or bad news, Chevy told the media in a conference call that the Volt's price will remain the same (US$39,995) when moving from the 2012 to 2013 model year. Automakers often increase the price for a new model year, especially when adding equipment (or range), but some consumers might have been hoping for another price decrease. The 2012 Volt dropped about $1,000 in price from the original 2011 model - no such luck this time around.

The 2013 Volt will go on sale beginning in August.

Source: GM, Inside Line

View gallery - 3 images
$40K for 40Kms! Huh, this looks like it is not ready for prime time. Tell yah what I'll give you $10K for one if you can get it to 400Kms per charge. That way I can still afford a second vehicle for longer trips. Maybe try installing a Thorium reactor ;-D
Derek Howe
just get an all electric model S.
400Kms is 250 miles, Tesla's Model S is all electric and can go over 300 miles on a single charge. Unfortunately that will set ya back 70k...but hey, it's only money. :)
Kris Lee
I'm jealous over you Americans that you have that kind of car. Our family rarely drives more than 40 km (that is 25 miles for you) in a day so this car would be perfect fit for us.
We also have three phase 220V in the house meaning that with specialized adapter it would take probably even two times less time to charge it.
With around 9 sec to 100 km/h the acceleration of the Volt is also not that bad meaning that is comparable with a 1,8 to 2 liter turbo charged diesel engines.
I'm wondering what the price in Europe would be with shipping, customs and sales taxe. When it can get into €35K range then it could compete with family class BMW and Mercedes (when the interiour is not made from the cheap plastic).
Todd Dunning
Even this Tea Partier is investigating the Volt after seeing a number of glowing reviews. Two guys I know are buying one. Apparently the cost of ownership is around $200 a month - a far cry from my Merc GL450 with payments and gas killing us at about $1700 a month.
And though each Volt sold has cost taxpayers $250,000, it's still not fair to blame the car. Save that for November 5 when you can show your appreciation for bailing out the UAW.
Kris Lee
@Todd Dunning
Despite I like Volt, you can not compare it with Mercedes GL 450.
You can compare it with Mercedes C250 or BMW 328i.
Both have MSRP lower than Volt but even when both have lowest power engines awailable in US this would be nothing comparable economic diesel engines available in Europe (especially for BMW that really has nailed the performance and economy at the same time).
Volt's don't cost taxpayers $250k, that's a ridiculous calculation from a guy who makes a living bashing the Volt. I own a Volt, and no, you didn't pay for it. If you want to play that game, then every child in American is subsidized to the tune of $17,500 dollars - apparently paid for by me since I don't have any kids. And everyone with a mortgage is subsidized by people living in apartments and mobile homes. Everyone hates tax credits, *except* the ones they're cashing in on themselves. After I see you in downtown DC picketing to repeal the child tax deduction and mortgage interest deduction, I'll listen to your complaints... You do remember it was a Republican who bailed out the auto industry, right? So I guess you're saying *don't* vote for a Republican?
That being said, here's my spreadsheet showing a Volt is cheaper to own than the average car
Alan Belardinelli
The advertising approach that they seem to be taking now is that the average Volt owner buys gas once every 800-900 miles. I reckon that is pretty close to the case for most owners who learn how to drive one efficiently.
Kris Lee: I think that the Volt will be coming to Yurp as the Opel Vauxhall at some point soon.
Michael Lard
I leased my Volt in April. I'm paying $50 more per month for this lease than the lease I had on my Toyota Camry XLE. Charging the Volt has cost me $22/mo, I was spending about $100/mo in gas for my Camry. It's not difficult math, I'm saving money every month, and driving a great car. I can't help but laugh when people compare the Volt to other cars. You really can not directly compare the Volt to any car currently on the market, because no other car works like the Volt. I drove my Volt 43 miles yesterday and still had 13 miles of electric range left, I burned NO gas. There isn't another car on the market that can go that far on electric, then switch to gas if I need to go further. I drive electric 99% of the time commuting to work, and running errands, but I don't worry about range because I know the gas is there if needed. The few times I have burned gas, I've averaged over 40 mpg. If you take a real honest look at the Volt, you will like it. Everyone I have showed the Volt to, has been surprised at how great it is. Everyone.
Adding electric range is nice, but what I really hope they're working on is integrating a much more efficient secondary motor, like maybe the Mueller wave disc motor that has been seen here on Gizmag. Doubling the gasoline efficiency would make the car much more attractive to lots of people, e.g. people like me who live in an apartment building and can't conveniently plug it in.