The Chevrolet Volt could be in for a significant redo in the next 18 to 24 months, according to a report from Automotive News. When the new model comes on line in late 2015 or early 2016, besides the regular spate of interior and exterior styling tweaks, the next Volt could feature a three-cylinder engine under its aerodynamic hood.

While AN thinks it's a 1.0- or 1.2-liter three-pot, Motor Trend is more definitive, claiming the new mill is the all-aluminum, turbocharged three that will arrive in the Opel Adam in 2014. In that setting, it will generate 115 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque. That's 31 horsepower more than the 1.4-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder in the current Volt.

New engines aren't the only change Automotive News thinks is coming to the Volt – a bespoke, lightweight platform will underpin the second-generation model. The hybrid currently shares its bones with the Chevy Cruze and Buick Verano, but a dedicated platform could help the Volt hit its future fuel economy targets.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 116 Comments
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good idea.
      Shad0wguy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why does the Volt need an engine that powerful if all it does is run a generator to charge the battery?
        CarNutMike
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Shad0wguy
        It's actually more complicated than that but the Volt electric motor can draw 150hp, approximately twice what the current engine produces. Do you see an issue?
          Joseph Brody
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CarNutMike
          Cars operate at a low average power, say 10 hp cruising on a flat highway. Peak HP is rarely used. The Volt was not designed to be a pure series hybrid, but if it was, its range extending engine would only need to cover the average power consumption in charge sustain mode. This would allow significant downsizing, say a small light .5L .
        Cayman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Shad0wguy
        The engine doesn't typically charge the batteries. The generator directly powers the electric motors. And it's not a matter of need, it's a matter of making a more attractive vehicle to public. There is a pretty large drop off in power when the batteries are drained, a more powerful engine can turn a more powerful generator which in turn can generate more power for the electric motors, which obviously improves performance.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Shad0wguy
        It doesn't need one as big as it has. They could easily get away with smaller and that is what this article is about. Of course you'll lose performance on a long hill but that could be an OK trade-off.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Shad0wguy
        The engine can also send power directly through the driveline to the wheels at highway speeds. Some purists get verklempt when they hear that, but that's how the Volt is designed.
        Joe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Shad0wguy
        A coworker with a hybrid Civic commented on an issue he had with his car. With high speed (85 mph) long highway trips the battery would run down and the car had to go to gasoline powered only. He had to slow way down for a while until the batter charged up again. I wonder if this is an issue with the current Volt?
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        Wacko
        • 1 Year Ago
        Sadly, Laser still has his head way up his A$$.
        Snark
        • 1 Year Ago
        A diesel is $2-5000 more expensive than a gas drivetrain. Why should I pay more for a diesel when I could pay more for batteries and get better efficiency for my dollar? The range extender isn't even ON most of the time.
        ChaosphereIX
        • 1 Year Ago
        agreed, should be a 3 cyl diesel for that torque to run the generator. Pugeot does it
          johnnythemoney
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ChaosphereIX
          Peugeot doesn't use it as a generator, it's a pure hybrid (OK, in the Volt 3% of the possible driving conditions have the ICE directly moving the car).
      benjamin_braddock
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hey GM. How about producing cars I would actually like to buy first?
        John Hansen
        • 1 Year Ago
        @benjamin_braddock
        By your logic, they should stop producing the Corvette too. This is a car enthusiast site. If you really want to drive your beige Toyota Corolla and think that everything else that doesn't sell as many shouldn't be produced, then this may not be the site for you.
        methos1999
        • 1 Year Ago
        @benjamin_braddock
        And what car would you like to buy? Tough for GM to cater to your personal wants & desires if you don't elaborate.
        Technoir
        • 1 Year Ago
        @benjamin_braddock
        benjamin_braddock Screw you, I would actually buy the Volt. See, not everyone is modeled after you. There's other people out there..
      Rob
      • 1 Year Ago
      Making a slow death even slower.
      See_York_Chin
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have yet to see a single non traffic cop Volt in NYC.
        ChaosphereIX
        • 1 Year Ago
        @See_York_Chin
        I have yet to see one single cop Volt here in Ottawa. But I see regular Volts all the time.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @See_York_Chin
        [blocked]
        gpmp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @See_York_Chin
        Excellent application for the Volt. Stop and think how much the fuel and maintenance costs are for municipal vehicles.
      pag@optusnet.com.au
      • 1 Year Ago
      The fact that GM is planning more sophisticated, advanced versions of it's brilliant Voltec models is very good news. A more affordable Volt, with greater electric capability must have a dramatic effect on advancing acceptability for all EV technology. Go GM !
      Jordan
      • 1 Year Ago
      I own a Volt, and we just got back from a 1000 mile road trip (round trip). We got 43MPG while in Gas mode with three people on board and all their luggage. While in town, we used ZERO gas. This means that our trip cost us $135 for almost two weeks. I pay roughly $250 a month with nothing out of pocket down (GM Card rebates are always topped off at the end of the year which means a free $2,000 down payment). I'm sorry but this is a no-brainer of a car if you're looking for a commuter car with the ability to go on a spontaneous road trip. With a Tesla or Leaf, I would have to stop to charge (even with the Tesla's longest range model). I love that fact that it has a gas engine, and I think this is the right move. More efficiency is always good. People that bash the Volt have either never driven one or are so full of their own opinion that they don't care enough to open their eyes. Oh well...their loss.
        Michael
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jordan
        Indeed, the technology chosen by GM makes a ton of sense, especially versus a standard Prius. Choosing a thriftier small turbo as the generator engine is wise. Especially those whose commute within its EV range are bound to be pleased with what they pay for transportation energy. The big rear hatch is great nod to everyday practicality.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jordan
        [blocked]
        bookemd
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jordan
        Great insight on a engineering masterpiece that is the Volt! It's nice to know real world mileage. What did you have before the Volt? The people who bash the Volt are morons.
          Jordan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @bookemd
          I drove a 2002 Oldsmobile Aurora (Great car in theory, but horribly unreliable) before the Volt. Just in case anyone doubts I actually own one, here is a link to my thread on Gm-Volt.com with pictures of my car (since I am sure there are plenty of people who claim to "own" things, but are actually 14 years old and writing from their parents basement. http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?56225-My-Volt!-Lots-of-Pics!
        sailm26
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jordan
        Any plugin in hybrid is almost by definition overly complicated vs. a BEV (battery electric vehicle) or an ICE. A PHEV has both drive trains, added cost, weight and space consumed. The Volt ends up as a compromise in every way. Is it the right compromise is the question the market will decide over time. Clearly the long term future is BEV, not PHEV. Are the advantages of a PHEV vs. an ICE worth it? Will is help or hurt the electrification process? Hard to tell. Look how well gradual steps have gone such as the move from english to metric system. Its too easy to compare the Volt to vehicles that are better in each individual way. - The "range" is always touted. If you want range, get a VW diesel around 600 mile range. - If you want electric range get any BEV, especially a Tesla (265 miles), or a Leaf (73 miles) for much less than a Volt (38 miles). - The Cruze on which the Volt is based is lower priced, has better highway mpg (Eco), more interior space, seats 5.
      Puck
      • 1 Year Ago
      I am - honestly - totally amazed how americans Keep takling the Volt down. Amazing, really. They have no clue how good it actually is.
        bookemd
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Puck
        Not all of us are! The vehicle is a testament to what GM can do if it fires on all cylinders.
        mycommentemail
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Puck
        It is mostly just a repeating chorus of a vocal minority. Most Americans are barely aware of the car. Those that are are usually either indifferent or appreciative of it (with some understandable concern about the price). A small minority actively hate the car for reasons they are barely able to articulate beyond a meaningless reference to "Obama" "socialism", or "greenies" (and often without any comprehension of what these terms even mean). Finally, a very very tiny minority actively dislike the car for legitimate reasons, but their voices are drowned out by the insanity from the previous group.
      Puck
      • 1 Year Ago
      The ranters about the Volt obviously have no idea how magnificient the car is.
      ChaosphereIX
      • 1 Year Ago
      who cares about hp with a generator engine? All it needs to do is run the generator, which runs the wheels. Is it more efficient? Does it have start stop? Cylinder deactivation when the load gets really light? You need just enough power to run the generator, that is it. Hp figures mean nothing.
        rlog100
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ChaosphereIX
        There no commonly published number that tells you how hard the electric motors and engine combined push the car. So for marketing purposes, the high torque number is necessary or many (most) people will believe the car can\'t get out of its own way.
        Cayman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ChaosphereIX
        I would guess that the more powerful engine would be paired with a more powerful generator, allowing for better performance when running on gas. I would imagine that Chevy wants to have a smaller drop off when the battery is drained.
        BahamaTodd
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ChaosphereIX
        Also keep in mind the "scandal" where the engine can make a direct connection to the drive wheels in certain situations. http://www.autoblog.com/2010/10/11/poll-did-general-motors-lie-about-the-chevrolet-volt/
        johnnythemoney
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ChaosphereIX
        "just enough power to run the generator". HP is power, btw, so it is relevant to know how much power the ICE can deliver. If the electric motor is worth 200 bhp, and the ICE can produce only 100 bhp, it means you'll eventually run out of electric power in the batteries as the electric motor can deliver more power than what the ICE can generate to fill the batteries, and eventually you'll have the ICE developing 100 bhp, and the electric motor using 100 bhp (assuming an ideal efficiency of the system), with no chance of using the remaining potential power of the electric motor. On the contrary, a 300 bhp engine could recharge the batteries at all time even if the electric motor is always used at 100%. Not saying it's the way to go since it's more efficient and cheaper to recharge the batteries plugging in the car to the netwrok, but it shows that how much power the ICE can generate is actually relevant. Of course you will never drive flat out at all times, which is also why the Volt is equipped with a ICE just 56% as powerful as the electric motor. Also, that's just peak power, which is quite meaningless in everyday condition as you'll never find yourself at 100% loads at the max power rpm, so the situation is far more complex, but the power provided by the ICE is still relevant, at all rpm' and loads.
          ChaosphereIX
          • 1 Year Ago
          @johnnythemoney
          the Volt ICE engine runs the generator, it needs to be just as powerful to run it, at full load, that is it. It doesnt rev, doesnt need to. In that way a turbo 3 is a great idea as the power is created down low where the engine is 99% of the time. It idles, makes power for the generator. Nobody drives flat out in their Volt for long, maybe for an onramp, that is it. If that is so, they bought the wrong car for that mission.
          Cayman
          • 1 Year Ago
          @johnnythemoney
          @Chaosphere-- Hopefully the engine is not typically "down low". ICE engines are actually more efficient when running near their upper limit (unfortunately, this is exactly where a car is the least efficient). So ideally, when the engine kicks in, it would be running near the upper limit. And it's upper limit should only be as powerful as necessary. And the power curve for a turbo 3 is completely dependent on how it's designed. If it has a long stroke it'll be torquey like a diesel and produce power down low. If it has a short throw, then should develop less torque but will be able to rev higher. You can't make a blanket statement on how the engine perform based solely on the number of cylinders and that's is turbo.
          methos1999
          • 1 Year Ago
          @johnnythemoney
          Also I would argue that you may have to think bigger and farther out than just the Volt. GM thinking is to work with vehicle platforms & engine families, not just singular models. It may very well be they're over-sizing the new Volt platform so it can work in larger or sportier models. For instance, they may be trying to increase engine & motor power so they can make a Cadillac ELR Gen II that will be better suited to bridge the gap between the current version and the future Tesla Gen III car... just a theory anyway :)
          johnnythemoney
          • 1 Year Ago
          @johnnythemoney
          @Chaos, you didn't read maybe. If the generator/electric motor (call it as you prefer) can develop more power than the ICE (as in the Volt) what happens is that as soon as there is no energy in the batteries the generator/electric motor will be able to produce only as much power as the ICE can, so less than it max power. So ideally you'd prefer to have them both equally powerful so to always have the same level of performance. No reason to think Volt users won't drive pedal to the metal all the time, I'm not speaking specifically about that car or any other car, it's irrelevant. Besides, the ICE in the Volt has a 2.500/4.500 rpm range, so yes, it can rev and vary its level of delivered power.
        piratefan2
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ChaosphereIX
        Amen
      SteveM
      • 1 Year Ago
      If they can drop the price another $5k like they plan ($10k down from the original price) AND get a 50-60 mile EV range, this suddenly becomes a lot more appealing to me. I drive 100 miles a day (mostly in a VW Jetta SportWagen TDI) and the Volt is interesting but the high price and low EV range makes the numbers work better in the Jetta's favor. Also, if Tesla manages to get their $35k 200 mile range car out within the next 3 years, AND it's SuperCharger compatible, Volt's going to have to undercut that price by quite a bit.
        Vlad
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SteveM
        Average commute time in the US is 25 minutes, which translates to about 16 miles. I don't think it makes much sense to design an electrified car for extreme cases like a 100 mile commute, the market is simply not that big. Diesel (or natural gas, if infrastructure develops) may in fact be the best and most practical choice for super-long commute.
          Grendal
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Vlad
          The reason the Volt gets really high marks with owners is that it actually drives about the same as a BMW. So other than badging it really is worth the extra money according to owners.
          ChaosphereIX
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Vlad
          agreed sir. Short commute = Volt. Long commute = diesel.
          See_York_Chin
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Vlad
          If your theory was correct why would the market not meet it, diesels have been on the market for AGES and yet...
          Vlad
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Vlad
          @SteveM: different niches require different products. Volt fills the niche it is aimed at quite well - it sells better than a whole lot of cars in its price range. About apartments... it is true, apartments are slow to adopt EV chargers, even though it can be very cheap or free for them, and attract desirable customers. Something as simple as a regular 110v outlet, a designated parking spot nearby, and a locking box with two holes is all that is needed to make an apartment much more suitable for a Volt owner. Flat fee of around $25/month should cover electricity.
          Vlad
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Vlad
          @See_York_Chin: True, diesels have been around for ages. But the American public became interested in fuel economy only recently. Given the inevitable inertia, market responds about as fast as one could expect.
          SteveM
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Vlad
          Except that even at its newly revised price, Volt doesn't make much sense to most of those people with 25 minute commutes. There are much less expensive cars that get excellent gas mileage. I don't think the market for a $40k (or even a $35k) car like the Volt is all that big, either. It's still a niche car, and will be even if they get the price closer to $30k.
          SteveM
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Vlad
          ChaosphereIX, yes, with the upcoming $5k it gets better, and yes, the Volt gets great effective gas mileage. I'm not disputing that. But most people -- which includes that "most people who have a 25 minute or less commute" -- can't afford or don't want to spend $35k, or even $30k, on a car. And if they do, they are less likely to be concerned about high gas mileage, especially if they can spend half or 2/3 the price on a car that gets excellent gas mileage itself. Also, Volt is a tricky proposition for apartment/condo dwellers, since they often won't have a place to plug-in overnight. So your target audience for the Volt ends up being people who can afford $30-$40k for a car and have a place to plug it in overnight. This is a niche market. And if you're claiming that the car is inappropriate for people with longer commutes (which I dispute), that makes it an even smaller market. There is nothing wrong with it being a niche market. The car is definitely focused at a specific segment of the population. That's good. It should be. At its price, the Volt isn't going to be an every car for every person. But it is disingenuous to claim that the market for people with longer commutes is "too small" for GM to bother with, while at the same time denying that the Volt as it currently is is already targeted at a pretty small group, especially if you insist that the car isn't "for" people who drive beyond the car's EV range on a daily basis. tl/dr: Volt is already aimed at a niche market. Saying that another niche market is too small is silly.
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