It’s official: the next-generation Chevrolet Volt electric car is on its way — and we’ll get to see it for the first time at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit next January.
About to enter its fourth year of production, the current Chevrolet Volt is a range-extended electric car equipped with a 17.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack driving a 111 kilowatt-electric motor through the front wheels. Attached to the casing of the main motor via a specially-designed clutch is a smaller 55 kilowatt electric motor which in turn is attached via another clutch to the Volt’s 1.4-litre gasoline engine.
Under normal operation, the Volt’s battery pack drives the front wheels, providing an EPA-approved all-electric range of 38 miles per charge. When the battery pack is depleted, the gasoline engine switches on, charging up the battery pack via the smaller 55 kilowatt electric motor which in turn can be used to power the car. Only under exceptional situations — when the battery pack is completely depleted and heavy acceleration is called for — is the power from the engine sent directly to power the wheels.
In its home market of North America, the Chevrolet Volt has proven extremely popular with early plug-in car buyers. Duelling head-to-head with the Nissan LEAF electric hatch, the range-extended Volt offers would-be plug-in owners the convenience of a backup power source in the event of a last-minute change of plans, although it loses out to the LEAF in terms of everyday practicality due to a smaller load-carrying capability and one less seat.
Despite this however, more than 63,000 Volts have been sold in the U.S. since its late 2010 launch, with Volt owners collectively travelling more than 500 million all-electric miles during that time. Although the plug-in car has just a 38 mile range per charge, GM says more than 63 percent of all miles travelled by Chevrolet Volts in the U.S. are made on electricity alone.
The upgrade to the Chevrolet Volt — which GM bosses have been hinting for some time would come in time for the 2016 model year — is expected to dramatically increase the Volt’s all-electric range as well as improve the efficiency of its on-board range-extending engine. Another possibility is that we’ll see GM bring out two different Volt models: one with a range-extended gasoline engine for longer-distance, stop-free trips and one with a larger battery pack capable of a claimed 200 miles of range.
What we can tell you however, is that we won’t be seeing the next-generation Volt or its sibling, the Vauxhall Ampera in Europe any time soon. With abysmal european sales over the past four years, both the Chevrolet Volt and the Vauxhall Ampera will cease European sales in the coming year, with the only promised replacement an all-electric, european-centric car some time in 2016.
Despite confirming that we’ll be seeing the new Volt in a little under five months however, General Motors isn’t ready to tell us yet what the specifications of the next-gen plug-in will be, so for now we’ll have to wait and see. In fact, the only thing we’ve got to go on so far is the teaser image unveiled by GM this afternoon, which shows a redesigned, taller hatch than the existing car.
In the meantime, we’d like to know what you’re hoping the next-generation Volt will be like. Do you want more room, or more range? Do you have a niggle you’d like Chevrolet to fix in the next-gen car, or perhaps you’d like faster charging?
Leave your wish list in the Comments below.
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