For the 2013 mold year, the Chevrolet Volt‘s powertrain is receiving several improvements that will boost its pure-electric range to 38 miles on a single charge, a 3-mile increase from the 2012 model. In addition, the MPGe rating will increase from 94 miles to 98 miles, making for a total range of 380 miles.
The improvements stem from minor changes to the material composition of the battery cell chemistry, resulting in improved performance and durability. Engineers made the changes based on the real-world experience by Volt owners since the EREV’s 2010 launch. The biggest change is in the amount of materials that makes up the battery, with manganese spinel chemistry remaining the foundation for the battery system. GM director of Global Battery Systems Engineering Bill Wallace likens the updates to cake batter ingredients:
“We’ve done some work at the cell level to modify the ‘ingredients’ to make a better end result,” said Wallace “This attention to detail will allow our customers to experience more pure EV range, which is the true benefit of owning a Volt.”
In addition, the total storage capacity of the Volt battery was increased from 16 kWh to 16.5 kWh, with engineers expanding the state-of-charge window to use 10.8 kWh of the total battery energy, an increase from the 10.3 kWh used in the 2012 Volt. Moreover, the buffer of the battery system has been reduced.
The increase in the battery’s storage capacity will result in a slight increase in Volt charge times: 10.5 hours on 120V, and 4.25 hours on 240V. General Motors underlined the fact the new cell chemistry has undergone 150,000 test miles, with the tests showing less battery degradation, the ability to withstand temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsisua, and less impact by energy output.
The GM Authority Take
These updates are — without a doubt — much welcome since, with after only two years on the market, GM is already making incremental improvements to the excellent Volt. And while it remains to be seen whether the increased electric range of the 2013 model will make the Volt more attractive to customers, our question is why The General can’t apply the same small changes to its other vehicles instead of waiting for a major refresh.