Automotive

New Chevy Volt gets sportier looks, 50 miles of electric drive

New Chevy Volt gets sportier l...
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The new Volt's battery pack is T-shaped, as in the first-gen Volt (Photo: General Motors)
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The new Volt's battery pack is T-shaped, as in the first-gen Volt (Photo: General Motors)
Inside the 2016 Volt (Photo: General Motors)
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Inside the 2016 Volt (Photo: General Motors)
Chevy offers the option of leather-appointed seating (Photo: General Motors)
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Chevy offers the option of leather-appointed seating (Photo: General Motors)
The Volt offers 50 zero emission miles and an estimated 102 mpg-e (Photo: General Motors)
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The Volt offers 50 zero emission miles and an estimated 102 mpg-e (Photo: General Motors)
Buyers can select the available illuminated charge port (Photo: General Motors)
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Buyers can select the available illuminated charge port (Photo: General Motors)
The new Volt includes location-based charging (Photo: General Motors)
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The new Volt includes location-based charging (Photo: General Motors)
The second-generation Volt arrives
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The second-generation Volt arrives
The 2016 Volt (Photo: General Motors)
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The 2016 Volt (Photo: General Motors)
Chevy says that the Volt will travel more than 400 miles on gas and electric power (Photo: General Motors)
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Chevy says that the Volt will travel more than 400 miles on gas and electric power (Photo: General Motors)
The 2016 Volt has a digital display in the center console and one in the center of the instrument panel (Photo: General Motors)
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The 2016 Volt has a digital display in the center console and one in the center of the instrument panel (Photo: General Motors)
The new Voltec powertrain combines an 18.4-kWh battery, two-motor drive unit and 1.5-liter range extender (Photo: General Motors)
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The new Voltec powertrain combines an 18.4-kWh battery, two-motor drive unit and 1.5-liter range extender (Photo: General Motors)
Up close with the 2016 Chevy Volt (Photo: General Motors)
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Up close with the 2016 Chevy Volt (Photo: General Motors)
The new Volt has four doors and five seats (Photo: General Motors)
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The new Volt has four doors and five seats (Photo: General Motors)
Chevy introduces the 2016 Volt at the Detroit Auto Show (Photo: General Motors)
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Chevy introduces the 2016 Volt at the Detroit Auto Show (Photo: General Motors)
The 2016 Volt in Detroit (Photo: General Motors)
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The 2016 Volt in Detroit (Photo: General Motors)
The 2016 Volt in Detroit (Photo: General Motors)
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The 2016 Volt in Detroit (Photo: General Motors)
The 2016 Volt in Detroit (Photo: General Motors)
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The 2016 Volt in Detroit (Photo: General Motors)
The 2016 Volt in Detroit (Photo: General Motors)
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The 2016 Volt in Detroit (Photo: General Motors)

GM is using the 2015 North American International Auto Show to reaffirm its commitment to electric power. Not only did it reveal the all-electric Bolt concept car, it rolled the second-generation Volt out under the lights. In designing the 2016 Volt, GM relied heavily on feedback from first-generation Volt owners, developing a sportier, higher performance plug-in with an all-electric range boost of more than 30 percent.

The electric side of the revamped Voltec powertain includes a new two-motor drive unit and an 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery. While it's more powerful, the battery shrinks in number of cells, from 288 cells to 192, thanks to higher energy capacity. A revised configuration seats the cells lower in the T-shaped pack for a lower center of gravity in the vehicle.

The two drive motors combine to deliver the same 149 hp (111 kW) as the current Volt and increase available torque up to 294 lb-ft (from 273 lb-ft). The motors can power the front wheels individually or in tandem; a single primary motor drives the car at lower speeds in the city, while the two motors split power duties at moderate speeds or engage completely for higher-load/higher-speed driving.

The new Voltec powertrain combines an 18.4-kWh battery, two-motor drive unit and 1.5-liter range extender (Photo: General Motors)
The new Voltec powertrain combines an 18.4-kWh battery, two-motor drive unit and 1.5-liter range extender (Photo: General Motors)

The new battery and motor layout pushes the 2016 Volt up to 50 miles (80 km) on electric power alone, 12 miles (19 km) farther than the current Volt's battery. A more powerful discharge rate of 120 kW (vs 110 kW) adds to the Volt's performance. The car can hit 30 mph in 2.6 seconds and 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. On the braking side, the new Volt gets the paddle-shift Regen on Demand feature that GM introduced on the Volt-based Cadillac ELR.

"The improvements in the efficiency and performance of the 2016 Volt are driven by what owners said they wanted in the next-generation model: more range, better fuel economy and stronger acceleration," explains Andrew Farah, vehicle chief engineer. "Building on General Motors industry leading battery and drive-unit technologies, we’ve delivered all of that, while also making the Volt more refined and fun to drive."

Fifty all-electric miles is a nice improvement over 38, but it's still not going to be enough for many a drive. That's where the gas side of the Voltec steps in, offering an all-new 101-hp 1.5-liter range extending engine, which increases the car's total range to north of 400 miles (644 km). Technologies like direct injection, a 12.5:1 high-compression ratio and cooled exhaust gas recirculation enhance performance and efficiency. The engine also uses a lightweight aluminum block in place of iron. Chevy estimates that the engine will provide for a 41-mpg combined fuel economy, a bump up from the 37-mpg combined EPA estimate that the current 83-hp range extender offers.

The new Volt wears a full makeover that starts with increased dimensions. It's stretched to 180.4 in (4,582 mm) in length from 177.1 in (4,498 mm) and widened to 71.2 in (1,809 mm) from 70.4 in (1,788 mm). The height drops by about a quarter of an inch (6 mm), helping create a sportier roofline that's swept more dramatically back into the trunk lid. A lot more sculpting, kneading and tweaking has gone on between the extremities, giving the new Volt more dynamic surfaces and aesthetics. The carved body sides, sharply defined fenders, wraparound front fascia and tapered rear-end distinguish the new Volt quite clearly from its predecessor.

Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Chevy shows the 2016 Volt at NAIAS 2015 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)

"Customers were loud and clear: they wanted a sporty design that also allows for great EV road performance," says John Cafaro, Chevy's global design executive director. "The new Volt’s design is all about windswept surfaces so everything flows together. It’s a theme captured from the flowing lines of the fenders into the hood, to the carved body sides which are aerodynamically tuned and aligned with Chevrolet performance DNA."

Zooming in a bit closer, new elements that pop out include the 17-in wheels, aero-optimized sculpted tail lamps and the enlarged grille with active shutter system. Below the body panels, the reinforced structure features more high-strength steel, which adds integrity while keeping weight down. The car scales in at 3,543 lb (1,607 kg).

The big news inside is the three-seat rear bench that provides an extra spot for a total of five occupants. When the new middle seat isn't needed, a fold-down armrest adds extra comfort for the rear side passengers.

Inside the 2016 Volt (Photo: General Motors)
Inside the 2016 Volt (Photo: General Motors)

Up front, 8-in digital displays provide key information in the instrument cluster and center stack MyLink infotainment system. The redesigned charge status indicators include a top light for easy view from outside the car.

General updates around the interior include simplified center stack controls, enhanced acoustics, new colors, blue ambient lighting and softer materials. A rear-vision camera comes standard, while heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and wireless smartphone charging are available as options.

The 2016 Volt also gets an updated charging system with GPS-based functionality. Drivers can set their home charging preferences once, and the car will automatically apply them when its GPS system recognizes that it's home. Users can select 8- or 12- amp charging rates and set the system to charge immediately or based around a later time, such as a departure or an off-peak period. Chevy estimates charging time at 4.5 hours via a 240-volt source and 13 hours via a 120-volt source.

The 2016 Volt will go on sale in the second half of 2015. Chevy has yet to announce how the price will compare to that of the $35K 2015 Volt.

15 comments
oldguy
Very Nice. Im begining to want a hybrid.....
BeWalt
Nice looks, great feel, but GM management is as incompetent as ten or fifteen years ago. They completely fail to understand what they could get going with chassis and drive train of this car. Where is the branching out? Where are more models, more variety, a two door, a station wagon, a lifted station wagon with Subaru-Outback wannabe looks. Race the thing! Make a hillclimber and run Pikes Peak! All stuff that can be done economically, look at what VW and Tesla are doing with platforms! Management plainly *fails* to understand that there are a heck of a lot of people out there who would totally buy this thing if it didn't just come in this boring "one size fits all" sedan shape. Stop reworking design details and start doing your homework! Or somebody please *fire* these people running that company, before they screw up this last chance they are having right now. Make GM into a state of the art technology company once again, or die. These are the good times, next crunch times nobody will bail you out again.
Paul Anthony
I wanted one before, now I want one even more.
Bob Flint
If it had AWD then it would be a winner, still only front wheel drive, and front heavy. P.S. Hope the hood is stronger than the one I dented while closing at the 2012 Montreal auto show.
Mark Brooks
The Volt can go further on the energy used to steam the oil out of the sand in Alberta than it can on the oil. So who needs oil?
moreover
The added range is very attractive and just right. For most commuters it'll mean that they can make it to and from work driving purely electric, even in winter conditions. Batteries being both very expensive and heavy, it makes sense to only carry the amount of batteries required for routine driving. The compromise with the fifth seat is a good one, too.
Kyle McHattie
Maybe I missed something but I thought the gas engine in the volt was strictly to keep the batteries charged and that the mileage was closer to 400 e-mpg? When did this all change?
Abby Normal
I hope they didn't harshen the ride in the interest of "sportiness."
miker100
Is it me, or are people getting too excited about cars that are complex, expensive and, more to the point, do not deliver the mileage that they promise. 41 MPG?- in anybody's world, THAT is pathetic. Don't get me wrong, I would LOVE an electric car, but I need one that has a range of at least 300 miles- pure electric, range extender- it matters not a jot. Until someone comes up with an electric car that does not look like an alien spaceship or a donkey cart AND that can match, or better the 64mpg that I regularly get from my bog standard Skoda Diesel Estate with a full load, you can stick the present offerings where the sun never shines.(Tesla, perhaps excluded) Come on you manufacturers, you can do better than that - We await REAL innovation, not just a hybrid stop-gap.
ajl12no
Tesla...300+ miles of pure electric....GM miles behind the times.