For the past few months, general consensus on the second-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car has been that it would feature a smaller, more efficient, three-cylinder range-extending engine under the hood than the current 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine found in the first generation (2011-2014) mode.
Now, despite previous reports to the contrary, General Motors has just confirmed in an official press release that the next-generation Volt will feature a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine instead.
The release was timed to coincide with an official announcement being made by GM CEO Mary Barra at the Detroit Economic Club today in which she will detail GM’s commitment to investing $300 million in Michigan between now and the end of the year.
Part of that will be the building of the second-generation Chevrolet Volt electric drive unit at GM’s Warren Transmission Plant in Michigan, a move which would ensure that the majority of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, from its battery cells to its gasoline range-extending engine and final assembly, would happen in the state.
The current generation Volt has its electric drive unit made at a GM facility in Mexico.
Previously, analysts and industry-insiders alike had suggested that GM would use a smaller-capacity three-cylinder, direct-injection turbo engine paired with a larger on-board battery pack to improve overall efficiency of the range-extended plug-in. Already used on cars like the Opel Adam minicar in Europe, GM’s latest range of three-cylinder engines are both more powerful than many much larger naturally aspirated engines, have better low-end torque and return impressive fuel economy to boot.
While the next-generation Chevrolet Volt will benefit from a more fuel efficient engine over the first generation model however, Barra said the engine would have four-cylinders, not three. It also gets a capacity boost from 1.4 litres to 1.5.
Don’t think that this means a drop in fuel efficiency however. As Toyota proved with the transition from the 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine used in the second-generation Prius hybrid to a 1.8-litre, four-cylinder engine in the third-generation Prius hybrid, a larger engine is not always less efficient than a smaller one.
In fact, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt’s new 1.5-litre engine comes from a brand-new line up of 3- and 4-cylinder Ecotech engines unveiled by General Motors back in March this year. Forming a backbone of new engine choices for the entire GM lineup, General Motors said at the time that 11 different engine variants would be present across 27 different models from five different brands by 2017.
Like the 2016 Chevrolet Volt’s battery pack and transmission, the engine will be built at GM’s Flint operations centre, just sixty-five miles from the Detroit Hamtramck facility where final Volt assembly will be made.
Combined, says GM, this means that more than 70 percent of all the parts used in the 2016 Chevrolet Volt will be made in the U.S. or Canada, up from 45 percent on the current-generation Volt. This, says GM, gives the 2016 Chevrolet Volt the highest North American content of any plug-in or conventional hybrid on the market today.
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt is due to receive its official unveiling in January at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, so expect further snippets of information from GM on this highly-anticipated plug-in car in the coming months.
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