A big portion of the model's improvements come from Chevy's second-gen Voltec propulsion system. The updated drive unit is 12 percent more efficient and sheds 100 pounds from the scales. The battery itself also drops 21 pounds, while growing in capacity to 18.3 kilowatt hours. It gives the Volt an electric range of up to 50 miles and offers a total driving distance of over 400 miles. In addition, the new 1.5-liter engine offers estimated 41 miles per gallon fuel economy (with no battery).
The significant improvement in specs are certainly respectable, but the vast majority of buyers should notice the latest Volt's evolved styling first. Up front, there's a shiny new nose with a more modern take on Chevy's split grille. From there, the design slows back to a more svelte take rear with the original model's futuristic, square taillights not making the transition. Inside, Chevy simplifies the infotainment system and now offers seating for three in the back. Check it all out in the gallery, above, to see how far the latest model has come.
New model features expressive, sleek design and delivers 50 miles of EV range
DETROIT – Chevrolet today unveiled the all-new 2016 Volt electric car with extended range, showcasing a sleeker, sportier design that offers 50 miles of EV range, greater efficiency and stronger acceleration.
The Volt's new, efficient propulsion system will offer a General Motors'-estimated total driving range of more than 400 miles and with regular charging, owners are expected to travel more than 1,000 miles on average between gas fill-ups.
"The 2016 Chevrolet Volt provides our owners with a no-compromise electric driving experience," said Alan Batey, president of GM North America. "We believe our engineering prowess combined with data from thousands of customers allows us to deliver the most capable plug-in vehicle in the industry."
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt's technology and range advancements are complemented by a design that blends sculpted, muscular proportions with aerodynamic efficiency, and an all-new interior with seating for five and improved functionality.
Everything from charging the battery and checking the charge status, to the intuitiveness of instrument panel controls were designed for easier use.
"According to independent surveyors, Volt owners are the most satisfied in the industry and they were our compass for developing the next-generation model," said Batey.
2016 Volt highlights:
New two-motor drive unit is up to 12 percent more efficient and 100 pounds lighter (45 kg) than the first-generation drive unit
Two-motor design enables 19 percent stronger zero-to-30 mph acceleration
Battery capacity has increased to 18.4 kWh using 192 cells (96 fewer than current generation) with weight reduced by more than 20 pounds
Regen on Demand™ feature enables driver control of energy regeneration via a convenient paddle on the back of the steering wheel
New 1.5L range extender, designed to use regular unleaded fuel, offers a combined GM-estimated fuel efficiency of 41 mpg (EPA estimate pending)
Stronger body structure and quieter ride
New braking system with improved capability and blended Regen feel
New, five-passenger seating with available rear heated seats
Location-based charging capability
120V portable cord set has a simpler, compact design with more convenient storage location
Available illuminated charge port
The 2016 Volt goes on sale in the second half of 2015.
Sleeker, sportier design
The 2016 Volt has an all-new, muscular design that incorporates Chevrolet performance vehicle DNA inspired cues refined in the wind tunnel.
New features, including active grille shutters, help balance design with efficiency.
Volt's flowing, dynamic shape is inspired by the toned physiques of athletes and even the natural shapes of wind-swept sands, with carved body sides and fenders that blend into the hood. The front-end appearance retains the iconic Volt identity, with bright upper and lower grille pads.
Greater attention to detail in the design cues, materials and colors also lends a more premium, contemporary aura to its appearance. It also retains the distinctive Volt signature on the upper front doors, carrying over one of the first-generation model's identifiers.
Inside, the new Volt includes seating for five. Fresh colors exude an inviting upscale aura – complemented by blue ambient lighting – while the controls are more intuitively placed and simpler to operate.
The Volt retains its signature dual digital color displays with an eight-inch-diagonal reconfigurable screen in the instrument cluster to relay driver information. An additional eight-inch-diagonal touch screen in the center of the instrument panel controls the Chevrolet MyLink system.
Fewer icons on the center dash make it easier to operate. Separate climate control knobs and buttons below the center display offer clear, convenient operation.
New Voltec propulsion system
An all-new, second-generation Voltec extended range electric vehicle (EREV) propulsion system is the power behind the 2016 Volt's increased all-electric driving range, greater efficiency and stronger acceleration. It was engineered based on the driving behaviors of first-gen Volt owners.
"Volt owners complete more than 80 percent of their trips without using a drop of gasoline and they tell us they love the electric driving experience. Putting that experience at the center of the new Voltec system's development helped us improve range, while also making the new Volt more fun to drive," said Andrew Farah, vehicle chief engineer. "We established a precedent when the original Voltec propulsion system debuted and this newest iteration sets the EV technology bar even higher."
The Voltec system includes the battery, drive unit, range-extending engine and power electronics.
GM's industry-leading battery technology has been reengineered for the next-generation Volt. The 2016 Volt will use an 18.4 kWh battery system featuring revised cell chemistry developed in conjunction with LG Chem. While overall system storage capacity has increased, the number of cells have decreased from 288 to 192 as the result of a revised chemistry. The cells are positioned lower in the pack for an improved (lower) center of gravity and the overall mass of the pack is 21 pounds (9.8 kg) lighter.
Like the battery system, the next-generation Volt's two-motor drive unit delivers increased efficiency and performance along with reduced noise and vibration. The drive unit operates up to 12 percent more efficiently and weighs 100 pounds (45 kg) less than the current system.
Both motors operate together in more driving scenarios, in both EV and extended-range operation. The ability to use both motors helps deliver a 19 percent improvement in electric acceleration from zero to 30 mph (2.6 seconds) and a 7 percent improvement from zero to 60 mph (8.4 seconds). GM engineers designed the Voltec electric motors to use significantly less rare earth materials. One motor uses no rare earth-type magnets.
More convenient location-based charging
Using real-world experiences of today's Volt owners, Chevrolet made the charging system in the next-generation Volt more convenient for customers to recharge the battery – and to check the charge status.
The new and enhanced features include:
GPS location-based charging
"Owners will now be able to set their charging preferences exclusively for "home" charging and the vehicle will automatically adjust to that setting when it is at "home" based on GPS data," said Farah, the chief engineer. "The new Volt will give owners greater flexibility for charging on their terms and make public charging easier."
This will allow owners to pre-set their 120V charging level (eight amps or 12 amps) and whether they wish to charge immediately, set a departure time for each day of the week, or set a departure time and a utility rate schedule to charge only at off-peak rates. These setting will only have to be programmed once and the Volt will default to them when the vehicle return to its home location.
New, more intuitive charge status indicators
The next-generation Volt makes it easier for owners to confirm their Volt is charging and gauge charge status. The new status system features a specially designed tone that indicates when charging has begun, with additional tones for delayed charging. It will even indicate if the charge port door was left open after unplugging but before entering the vehicle.
With a glance through the windshield, an updated charge status indicator light on the on the top of the instrument panel will show the approximate charge level through a series of flashes. An available illuminated charge port makes it easier to plug in after dark.
Portable cord set enhancements
A new 120V portable cord set has a simpler, compact design with more convenient storage location. The storage bin for the cord is now located on the left side of the Volt's rear cargo area, above the load floor, for improved accessibility.
The new Chevrolet Volt offers new standard and available safety features that work with an all-new body structure to provide crash-avoidance and passenger protection capability. Highlights include:
Standard rear-vision camera
Ten standard air bags, including driver and front-passenger knee air bags
Available active safety features offering lane keep assist with lane departure warning, side blind zone alert with lane change alert, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert with following distance indicator, front automatic braking, and advanced park assist with front and rear park assist (semi-automatic parallel parking)
Expanded use of high-strength steel throughout the body structure improves strength and reduces weight
More effective structural load paths in the frame, along with reinforced rocker panel structures and side structure reinforcements
The new, active safety technologies and structural enhancements build on the Volt's legacy of top safety performance, which include a 5-Star overall New Car Assessment Program rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the current model.
GM is investing $435 million in the production of the next-generation Chevrolet Volt at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant and at the Brownstown, (Mich.) Battery Assembly Plant, where its lithium-ion battery pack is produced.
The new drive unit will be manufactured at GM's Powertrain plant in Warren, Mich., and the 1.5L engine will be manufactured at GM's Toluca, Mexico engine plant for the first year of production, then shift to the Flint, Mich. engine plant.
Since its introduction in late 2010, the Volt has established southeast Michigan as the hub of vehicle electrification development and manufacturing. The next-generation Volt will feature approximately 70 percent U.S. and Canadian components within its first year of production, a nearly 20-percent increase from the first generation.