To bring you up to speed, General Motors and Chinese partner SAIC announced back in August of 2010 (and again in October 2011) that they will co-develop small displacement, three cylinder engines and twin-clutch transmissions for future vehicles. And according to a report from Edmunds, The General is considering implementing such engines into the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR plug-in vehicles as the new range-extending powerplants.
If this does happen, we would see a three-cylinder engine replace the current 1.4L four-cylinder gasoline range-extending motor in the Volt by 2015, with the ELR following suit in 2016. The engines would displace anywhere from 1.0 to 1.5 liters, and would also help the Volt and ELR achieve GM’s internal 15-percent weight savings target by 2016, thanks to the lighter weight of the engines.
Naturally, GM would not confirm the application of three cylinder engines in the Volt and ELR, considering how far the plans are into the future.