GM Announces Improved Charging Functionality for 2016 Chevy Volt

It might not get its official production debut until the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this coming January, but at this week’s 2014 LA Auto Show, General Motors has decided to share more information about the next-generation Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car.

So far, GM has already shared some teaser shots of the exterior of the 2016 Chevy Volt as well as detail the improvements made over its successor to the car’s range-extended drivetrain.

Yesterday, as part of an exclusive event LA Auto Show event for local Volt owners, the Detroit automaker focused on some of the improvements made to improve the functionality and convenience of the Volt’s on-board charging system, as well as share a quick peek of the front of the all-new plug-in.

Here's what the front of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt looks like.

Here’s what the front of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt looks like.

While none of the improvements are exactly revolutionary — the 2016 Chevrolet Volt won’t get quick charging for example — the series of refinements should make owning a next-generation Chevrolet Volt more enjoyable, and were prompted by the feedback given to General Motors from first-generation Volt owners.

GPS-aware charging

Like its predecessor, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt comes with a 3.3 kilowatt on-board charger which can be programmed to charge at either 8 amps or 12 amps when charged via the 120-volt ’emergency charging cable’ that comes with the car. Similarly, the on-board charger of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt can be programmed to come on every day for a set departure time or make use of time-of-use metering to charge during off-peak periods, just like the 2015 Chevrolet Volt.

Unlike its predecessor however, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt will remember charging preferences depending on where it is, a feature already found on cars like the 2015 Tesla Model S.

Sadly, its GPS-aware charging setup won’t be quite as sophisticated as the Tesla system — which can store charging data preferences for multiple locations. Instead, the Volt will simply be able to recognise its ‘home’ location, adjusting its charging preferences automatically when you arrive home. This makes it possible for example to set the 2016 Volt to always charge immediately when plugged in away from home, but to make use of time-of-use charging at home.

Charge port illumination, better charge indicators

Following on from so many other plug-in automakers who now illuminate their car’s charging ports, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt will feature a calming green light that surrounds the car’s charge port, putting an end to stumbling in the dark for the charge port on cold winter nights.

In addition, GM says the charge port’s illumination will communicate through a series of flashes how full the car’s battery pack is when you plug in, making it easier to gauge how full the car is without having to jump in the drivers’ seat and turn the car on. Combined with a new series of audible signals, GM says this will make it easier for owners to figure out which charging mode and how full the car’s battery is.

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt uses a J1772 inlet, but at least it's illuminated.

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt uses a J1772 inlet, but at least it’s illuminated.

There’s also a change to the dashboard of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt says GM, with the old single LED charge indicator light replaced with one that will produce a series of flashes to communicate how full the car is. While GM hasn’t said how that will work, we’re presuming it will operate similarly to the charge indicators found on the Tesla Model S: fast flashing for empty which slows down as the battery pack reaches full.

A longer cord

No, we’re not joking. Even though many plug-in car drivers have a dedicated charging station installed at home, a large majority of Chevy Volt owners still use the portable 120v cordset that comes with the car to charge it. And, says GM, they’ve been asking for it to be longer on the next-generation Volt.

As well as a new location to store the cord in the left-side of the Volt’s rear cargo area, the next-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt will come with a 25-foot long charging cable as standard, making it easier than ever before for Volt owners to grab a little juice wherever they are.

Sharper nose

Also unveiled last night at the special Chevrolet Volt owners’ event was the very front of the next-generation Volt, showing a sleeker, more aggressive front end with narrower lights and a more pronounced V-shaped grille.

The next-generation Chevrolet Volt will be more fuel efficient, have a better electric range than current models.

The next-generation Chevrolet Volt will be more fuel efficient, have a better electric range than current models.

Instead of the older split-grille style of the Chevrolet Volt — with the horizontal bar of the Chevrolet Logo splitting the upper grille in two — the 2016 Volt’s upper grill is smaller and less intrusive than its predecessor, with only the bottom portion of the upper grille open to permit air flow.

Similarly, the lower grille — a much larger area in the Volt’s bumper — is also covered, but reserves the bottom few inches for air flow, suggesting that perhaps top and bottom grilles are louvered for energy efficiency.

What do you think?

What do you make of the early Volt sneak peak shots? What about the changes to the on-board charging? Are you eagerly awaiting the Volt’s official reveal in two months’ time, or are you looking elsewhere for your next car?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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