Customers want next-generation Chevy Volt to run longer and be cheaper

Article by Christian A., on June 26, 2014

Chevrolet Volt customers know what they want for the next generation of the gasoline-electric vehicle. While Larry Nitz, General Motors’ executive director of hybrid and electric powertrain engineering, wouldn't disclose how the next generation of the Volt -- due 2016 -- will evolve, customers already have a wish list of features they want to be in the new car.

Customers wanted the next Volt to have a fifth seat, a longer electric driving range and a lower price. A recent quiz of 300 Volt customers California – regarding the car's real-world performance -- showed that 63 percent of all driving is done in electric mode, while 15 percent of drivers are exceeding the Volt’s rated 40-mile electric range.

The study also showed that Volt owners who charge regularly could travel around 970 miles between fill-ups and visit gas stations only once a month.

GM will soon roll out a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine for its small cars, but the carmaker would not disclose if it would replace the current 1.4-liter four-cylinder powerplant installed on the Volt.

GM is currently finding ways to improve the performance of the batteries that power the Volt. The 2014 Chevrolet Volt carries a starting price of $34,995, including shipping but before tax and other incentives.

The Voltec propulsion system serves as the core of the new Chevrolet Volt, making use of a pure electric drive and a range-extending engine to bring the vehicle’s total range to 350 miles.

This propulsion system gets its juice from a durable T-shaped, 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack – measuring 5.5 feet in length and 435 pounds (198.1 kg) in weight. Produced in Brownstown Township, Michigan, this battery pack sends energy to a 111-kW (149-hp) electric drive unit. When engaged in pure electric driving, the Volt could travel a distance of between 25 miles and 50 miles, with the actual range depending on the terrain, temperature and driving techniques.

Chevrolet has ensured that battery for the new Volt could deliver value, safety and quality. Moreover, the carmaker ensured that this battery pack performs as intended and is durable and reliable. These attributes are boosted by the fact that the battery pack is covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.

These battery packs – and each pack's nine modules and 288 prismatic cells – have undergone one million miles and four million hours of validation testing since 2007. Moreover, each of the battery's 161 components -- 95 percent of which were designed and engineered by GM – has been validated by the development, validation and test teams.

Micky Bly, GM executive director for global electrical systems, remarked that just as its customers are committing to technology that could help reduce reliance on petroleum, the carmaker is also committing to deliver the highest standards in terms of value, safety and quality as well as performance and reliability.

The sleek, performance-oriented stance of the new Chevrolet Volt reveals its electrically driven capabilities. Looking like an upscale, midsize sport sedan, the Volt has a wheelbase that measures 105.7 inches (2,685 mm) as well as wide tracks that measure 61.2 (1,556) on the front and 62.1 inches (1,578 mm) on the rear. The Volt also sports a wheels-out stance and sculpted belt line.

Bob Boniface, director of design, remarked that since the Volt is a revolutionary car, its design should be as sleek and dynamic a statement as possible. He quipped that the new Volt is technical and refined in execution, featuring interrelating surfaces that result to crisp edges and creases.

Design and engineering teams coordinated with aerodynamicists in GM's wind tunnel to create a shape that allows the Volt to become the most aerodynamic vehicle in Chevrolet's history. Since less energy is now needed to overcome air resistance, the Volt benefits from additional eight miles of electric range as well as 50 miles of extended range. Furthermore, the vehicle’s rounded and flush front end, tapered corners as well as grille allow air to flow smoothly around the car, thereby helping reduce aerodynamic drag. Airflow is also controlled on the rear end by the spoiler and sharp edges. Also helping turbulence and drag is the aggressive rake on both the windshield and back glass.

Meanwhile, the element-to-element gap and flush relationships on the exterior and interior of the new Volt are at par or even better than those of its segment rivals. In addition, all components of the Volt are made to follow a high standard of appearance, employing similarly grained surfaces and colors to ensure they harmonize with the rest of the vehicle.

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