While its key mechanical basics will carry over, the 2013 Chevrolet Volt receives number of focused changes to its battery pack that raise the car's pure-EV driving range from 35 to 38 miles and bump the Volt's official EPA miles per gallon equivalent rating from 94 to 98 MPGe. The modifications also increase its extended range on a full tank of fuel from 379 to 380 miles.

After reviewing real-world operating information from existing Volt owners, GM engineers decided to revise the basic formulation of the car's manganese spinel battery chemistry for 2013, rebalancing the specific quantities of each material to further optimize performance. As part of that process, they also increased the total storage capacity of the battery pack from 16kWh to 16.5 kWh and expanded the available usable power from 10.3 to 10.8 kWh.

Although the latter modifications do result in a modest increase in recharging time - from 10.0 to 10.5 hours on a 120V line and from 4.0 to 4.25 hours on a 240V circuit -- Bill Wallace, GM director of Global Battery Systems Engineering, notes that the revisions "will allow our customers to experience more pure EV range, which is the true benefit of owning a Volt." To date, a fleet of Volt test cars has amassed over 150,000 evaluation miles using this new battery chemistry. Data collected show the revised chemistry formulation is more robust in withstanding the effects of energy throughout and long-term cell degradation while being capable of operating in temperatures a low as -30 degrees Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit). GM data indicates that Volt owners have now traveled over 65 million miles since the car hit the road late in 2010 and about two thirds of that distance was racked up using grid-supplied electricity.

On sale in August, the 2013 Volt benefits from several other changes compared to its 2012 predecessor highlighted by the addition of an "EV Hold" mode that complements the existing Normal/Sport/Mountain modes and allows the driver to conserve battery charge by forcing the Volt to use its range-extender gasoline engine to create electric power on the fly. Buyers in California and New York again will be able to fit their cars with the recently introduced low-emissions package that makes the Volt eligible for single-occupancy HOV-lane access. Beyond several new cosmetic/convenience touches, the 2013 Chevrolet Volt also adds a pair of optional Safety Packages that bring an auto-dimming inside rearview mirror/rear park assist/rear-vision camera and front park assist/ forward collision alert/lane-departure warning, respectively. Pricing for the 2013 Volt will remain at $39,995.


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