With the second-generation Chevrolet Volt inbound as soon as the summer of 2015, General Motors has released plenty of details regarding the new car’s revised Voltec propulsion system.
Some of this we’ve already reported on, and while the information that we’ve had up to this point has certainly been welcome, it still left plenty of questions unanswered.
To answer some of those lingering queries, SAE International gave us our first in-depth look at the revised technology. Perhaps most importantly, the electric storage capacity will not increase all that substantially in the second-generation car; the new battery’s cells are somewhere around 50 percent more energy-dense, but with two-thirds as many cells as the outgoing battery (150% x 2/3 = 100%). For some idea of a ballpark figure, the first-generation battery was between 16 kWh and 17.1 kWh during its lifecycle.
The new battery is nonetheless better, losing 30 pounds compared to the first-generation Volt’s battery system. The T-shape and structural integration of the battery packs is retained, although the cells are mounted half-an-inch lower in the 2016 Volt for a positive effect on center of gravity.
The second-generation Volt will also likely maintain a similar minimum state-of-charge around 35 percent, yet the range and energy usage is expected to increase by around 12 percent compared to the current Volt – the “old” 2015 model has an estimated total range of 380 miles with its 9.3 gallon tank.
Much of this comes from a strengthened focus on components integration, an aluminum cylinder block for the slightly bigger 1.5 liter petrol engine, and gains made with regard to the electric drive system.
The new Voltec drive system also features two smaller electric motors per drive-unit, as opposed to the larger single motor per unit on the first-generation Voltec system. Those two motors together use 10 percent less steel than a single electric motor in the old system, contributing to a 33 pound loss in weight. The clutch system has been revised, and a focus on reducing (expensive) rare earth content will help make the new car more economical.
All-in-all, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is expected to lose a total 130 pounds through the new Voltec system alone, and should offer 20 percent improved low-speed acceleration and quieter, smoother operation than the competition. General Motors’ surveying techniques have illustrated the massive importance of electric range, fuel economy and performance to current Chevrolet Volt owners.
More details – hopefully further distilled for us laymen – are still to be released. Hopefully, with the 2016 Volt’s official unveiling at the 2015 Detroit NAIAS, we’ll finally get the full picture.