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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  • dm33

    Not much of an improvement if it’s still a 3.3 kW charger. Seems like a major disappointment. Again GM shows that they’re not serious about electric vehicles if they can’t even improve the charger, the easiest component to replace in a supposedly longer-range new volt

  • Beryllium

    Doesn’t the 3.3kW charger increase battery life for the long term though?

    • dm33

      No. Only charging faster than 1C has a harmful effect. In fact, some studies show faster charging can help the battery.

  • dan747

    The bottom line for me is: when in gas mode, what will the MPG be? And in battery mode, how how many miles can it do?

  • crowd1

    These guys are more full of shit than baby robins! This continues to be the fiasco of Bob Lutz. His legacy – IDIOT!

  • Surya

    It looks like a nice improvement, but they should at least give the option of upgrading to a 6.6kW charger

  • blisterpeanuts

    I want to see an extra 20-30 miles in electric mode. That would probably tip the scales for thousands of potential buyers. Of course knocking about $5,000 off the price would also help. nnnThe Volt is a great concept. For city driving, it would be perfect for my needs as a second vehicle. For longer trips, it’s less useful, but if they can boost the overall range to 400 miles (say, 100 electric + 300 gasoline) then it’s equivalent or superior to any other car out there.

    • CP

      The Volt already has a combined electric and fuel range of 380 miles before re-fueling (about 40 miles electric and 340 gas). My guess is the new one will be 50 miles electric and 375 gas for total of 425 miles.

      • blisterpeanuts

        50 miles is pretty good. That might prevent a lot of people from ever visiting the fueling station! But 100 would be great; that would tip the scales.

  • Is GM joking with us? 120V charging with 8-12A is a charging rate of 3-5 MPH!nThis is literary a walking pace.nnIn 2016 the expection is for minimum charging rates of 208-240V at 30-40A which provides 25-35 MPH. Ideally we should see options for 50-70A Level2 charging to enable sessions to be completed in under an hour when/where needed. nnCharging rates of 10-20 KW (35-70 MPH) are realistic expectations in 2015 and beyond for a BEV.nnFor historical reference the Detroit Electric 1914-15 models could charge at 6 kW (at home) which provided ~25 MPH charging rate u2026 this at a time when speed limits on streets were posted at 12-30 MPH.

    • Martin

      Brian, GM seam to say that a fair number of their customers are happy with the 120v charging and I can fully understand it. Our family have three EVs all of them only charged with the 10A 230v EVSE which came with one of them. We have two spare 10A EVSEs which ride around in two of the cars and perhaps get used very occasionally. Our daily commutes are 14 mile round trips for two cars and 2 separate 10 mile round trips for the third car. All our EVSEs have 5 metre cords which is just short of 17 feet and having a 25 foot cord on the EVSE would be very nice for us as we have to do a bit of shuffling around to get all the cars charged.

      • vdiv

        Just because a fair number of Volt drivers charge with the 120V cord does not mean that they are content with it or would not benefit from a faster onboard charger. I think those of us unhappy with the lack of progress in this regard are ready to move to a serious pure EV. If GM does not produce their rumored 200-mile EV soon then they may start losing us. $50k for a certified preowned 60 kWh Model S is beginning to look more and more attractive.

  • lad76

    This is going to be a great car when when they can convert it to all battery electric drive

  • Martin

    Its good to see that GM are moving to second generation it means that they see a future for the car. Hopefully they will also see a future for BEV vehicles as well and start to sell them into the UK market.

  • Stephen Noctor

    Too bad, I was hoping GM would improve the on board charger so Volt drivers could take full advantage of the public charging stations that can provide 6 to 7 kW.

  • Heinz Benz

    There is no new battery chemistry. Either batteries will get cheaper and the price will come down or a new chemistry will increase range. Elsewhere in the news Nissan have announced profitability in their Leaf EV for year on year sales but they are still making a loss on the whole venture from its kick off.

  • theo hürlimann

    to bad they do not offer a Quick Charge Port. Even Mitsubishi’s iMieV has got one… Fill the battery up in 15 min. is pretty usefull and I miss this option every day on my 2011 Ampera (Volt).