UPDATE: A previous version of this article stated that the 2016 Volt’s battery pack weight was reduced by 200 pounds. Actual reduction is 20 pounds; this has been addressed.
Chevrolet isn’t keeping many details close to their chest regarding the second-generation Volt – nor should they, given the quantifiable advances they’ve made with regards to the redesigned drivetrain, new battery pack, and driver-centered tech.
And on the topic of that battery, below is a video straight from the bowtie’s mouth regarding the new pack.
Chevrolet kept the same approximate size and shape for the T-shaped battery pack in the #NextGenVolt, and yet boosted capacity by around 20%, to 18.4 kWh. That’s good for an all-electric range of about 50 miles, though we feel that may be a conservative estimate. Meanwhile, as Pam Fletcher says in the video, the battery pack actually weighs less than the outgoing module, reportedly by about 20 pounds.
At a Volt media backgrounder event, we spoke to GM Director of Global Battery Systems Bill Wallace, who suggested that this represents a mass-specific energy density increase of around 15 percent. Naturally, we had to ask how this was possible, and whether this represented a natural ceiling for Lithium-Ion battery performance.
“It was a total optimization of the cell, which we could do because we learned so much on the first one,” said Wallace. He elaborated that this wasn’t so much a result of tweaking cell chemistry, as altering cell shape and construction to minimize the number of conductors, remove packaging overhead, and optimize space.
In response to our question of whether Lithium-Ion technology had been near enough tapped-out, Mr. Wallace responded to the contrary: “In my opinion, there are at least two significant generational ‘spins’ left with Lithium-Ion. Those don’t happen in one or two years. They come in kind of 5 year chunks.”
So while the gains made by General Motors and their partner LG Chem may be significant, we can rest assured that there remains plenty of room to grow.