A few days ago, we were invited to GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant — the birth site of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt — for an informational backgrounder regarding the head-to-toe reimagining of America’s best-selling EV.
All About The Customer
As Chevrolet explains it, the next-gen Volt is all about the customer. A common claim among automakers, we know, but in the case of the Volt, it’s an undeniable fact; the first-generation Chevy Volt was largely an experimental EV program of sorts. Not to the same extent as GM’s EV1 of the mid- to late-nineties, to be sure, but as EV Executive Chief Engineer Pamela Fletcher puts it: “[Volt customers] are probably the most studied group of owners in recent history – maybe ever.”
The first-generation Volt served as sort of a canary in the coal mine: Chevrolet listened extensively to customer feedback, gathered a mountain of numerical data from current owners, and allowed themselves to be guided through the revamping process mostly by consumer demands. Ms. Fletcher explained that topping the list of consumer wishes were greatly extended electric range, smoothness, quietness, and surprisingly, more fun-to-drive.
That last attribute was unanticipated on the first-generation car; a low-hanging battery pack kept the car’s center-of-mass close to the ground, and the instantaneous thrust of the electric drive motors lent itself to satisfying quickness, but few customers necessarily expected an electrified vehicle to be such a lively thing. But happily, all of these demands could be at least partially addressed by redesigning the Voltec propulsion system – which is exactly what Chevrolet did.
The Next Generation
Leaving out the sophisticated technical deep-dive, the two-electric-motor drive system of the 2016 Volt manages a weight reduction of about 100 pounds (45 kilos), and occupies a much smaller space within the vehicle. It’s up to 12 percent more efficient, too, depending partly on vehicle operating mode. As a result, not only does the new two-motor drive system tax power output less, but it also simply puts out more power. Torque is rated at 294 pound-feet, with 45 kW of battery regeneration.
The 2016 Volt rides on the new D2XX vehicle architecture, and the car’s onboard gas-powered generator is improved, as well. Chevrolet is using a 1.5-liter inline-4 in place of the 1.4-liter mill seen in the last-gen Volt, with a resulting gain of about 14 horses. It boasts direct-injection, cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) as on the previous motor, and thanks to its larger displacement and higher output, generally runs at lower speeds for improved quietness.
Needless to say, loyal Chevrolet Volt customers will be getting what they’ve requested. Zero-to-sixty in the 2016 Volt is about 0.5 seconds better, at 8.4 seconds, and the all-electric range on a full charge is around 30 percent better, at 50 miles. On a full tank of gas and a full battery charge, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt will do in excess of 400 miles before running out of steam.
What’s more, survey data reveals that owners of the first-generation Volt have historically seen around 80 percent of their total mileage come from pure electricity, lending itself to 900 or more miles between fill-ups. But Pamela Fletcher projects that those numbers will swell to 90 percent and well in-excess of 1,000 electric miles, respectively.
Chevrolet takes great pride not only in this car, but in the fact that it’s born locally here in Detroit. Over 70 percent of the parts found in the #NextGenVolt will originate here in America, and it will continue to roll off the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly line.
But it’s not just Chevrolet that ought to be proud of the 2016 Volt. It’s Americans – and specifically Detroiters – as well.