General Motors confirmed that the 2016 Chevrolet Volt will make its world debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show in January. While the styling of this next-gen EREV (extended range electric vehicle) remains under wraps, Chevy revealed details regarding its all-new Voltec powertrain. Smaller, lighter and more capable than the present package, this totally redesigned system raises its game. 

Alan Batey, head of global Chevrolet, says the development team drew from the real-world experiences of the current Volt owners and noted the 2016 Voltec system -- which includes the battery, drive unit, range-extending engine and power electronics -- "will be more efficient and offer greater EV range and fuel economy compared to the current generation." It also promises to deliver even quicker acceleration and quieter operation -- all at a lower cost. 

Building a better battery 

Developed in conjunction with its tech partner LG Chem, the Volt's new battery pack remains a lithium-ion design and continues to use active thermal control to extend its service life. However, cell count has been cut from 288 to 192 and revised chemistry allows it to store 20 percent more energy while jettisoning almost 30 pounds of mass. The cells are now located lower in the assembly which improves the car's weight distribution. Although we'll have to wait until the new Volt's formal reveal to find out how much more EV range this new battery has, Larry Nitz, executive director of GM Powertrain's electrification engineering team, is confident it will exceed the current Volt's official 35-mile EPA stat. Might we see it hit the magic 50 mile mark? Stay tuned. 

More efficient electric drive package 

The next-gen Volt's electric drive is similarly recast, aimed at increasing efficiency and performance, improving packaging and reducing noise and vibration. In addition to a 5-12 percent operational gain, this new two-motor setup sheds 100 pounds and now has a Traction Power Inverter Module that controls energy transfer between the battery and the Volt's dual motors built directly into a single assembly. With both motors capable of operating simultaneously in more driving situations, the 2016 Volt promises up to 20-percent quicker electric acceleration. 

New 1.5-liter EcoTec range extender 

The last piece of the next-generation Voltec drivetrain is a new range-extender engine. The current 1.4-liter 4-cylinder gives way to a 1.5-liter direct-injected four from GM's latest modular EcoTec family. In addition to a higher 12.5:1 compression ratio, a variable displacement oil pump and sophisticated cooled exhaust gas recirculation system, this new on-the-fly electricity generator burns regular unleaded gasoline and not the premium blend needed by the present Volt engine. 

More EVs and Plug-in Hybrids...

Come along for a drive in the new 2014 BMW i8 plug-in sports car 

U.S. sales of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric have now begun 

The 2015 Kia Soul EV goes on sale here later this year



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