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All-new Chevy Volt to debut in Detroit

Rumours peg a new look, lighter Volt that can go farther and recharge faster

Published: August 8, 2014, 6:00 PM
Updated: June 7, 2015, 10:15 AM

2016 Chevrolet Volt Teaser

General Motors is readying an all-new Chevrolet Volt for a public unveiling at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The announcement was made by Global Chevrolet Chief Marketing Officer Tim Mahoney at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefings, but he did not go into specifics about the new car.

“Volt is the perfect example of the ingenuity that drives everything we do at Chevrolet,” said Mahoney. “Volt fully delivers on the promises of Find New Roads and will continue to provide consumers with the transportation solutions they need and deserve in the future.”

Volt sales have decreased slightly in recent months due to increased competition, though none of the new generation of plug-in hybrids (Toyota Prius Plug-In, Ford C-Max Energi, Honda Accord Plug-in, Volvo V60 Plug-In) could be accused of taking the market by storm.

To allow it to better keep up with the competition, it is expected the new Volt will concentrate on evolutionary changes to both its structure and drivetrain — more interior room, better aerodynamics, lighter battery, higher electricity storage capacity, longer EV driving range, shorter charging times, those sorts of things.

Speculation from various sources includes an engine swap, perhaps for the new all-aluminum Opel 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine that grants superior efficiency to the current Volt 1.4 Ecotec 4-cylinder. If Chevrolet combines it with a smaller fuel tank, that too would help save weight; if it keeps the same fuel tank, that would allow the car to go farther.

The other major speculation is the removal of the current T-shaped battery pack that runs down the centre of the car and necessitates a four-seat cabin array. Although the design is probably the most practical in terms of placement of the required large battery in an electric vehicle, consumer needs of an extra seat and increased cargo space may cause Chevrolet to take advantage of smaller batteries (which would help the manufacturer reclaim space, but may not grant more electricity storage, since more battery power generally means larger batteries in today’s reality).

The combination of a smaller, lighter engine and a smaller battery pack would help the Volt get lighter, which would aid low-end acceleration (a common complaint) and lengthen range (both in electric-only mode and when the range-extender engine kicks in).

The one item GM can’t fix with updated technology, though, is the car’s price, which many potential owners find beyond their means (even if government rebates are factored in). Again, rumours have the company “taking one for the team” and reducing the car’s profit margin in order to improve sales volume.