Almost eight months after it was officially unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car has been given its official fuel economy ratings by the U.S. EPA.
In addition to improving all-electric range by 40 percent over the outgoing first-generation Volt to a total of 53 miles per charge, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt also benefits from an improved electric efficiency of 106 MPGe, up from its predecessor’s 98 MPGe.
These improvements are thanks to ground-up redesign which includes a new, lighter battery pack, redesigned power electronics, more efficient engine and redesigned dual motor drive unit.
GM says the all-new, redesigned dual motor drivetrain system, which uses far less rare earth metals than the unit in the outgoing Volt, is twelve percent more efficient than its predecessor, and weighs 100 pounds less.
Combined with improvements in power electronic circuitry, this means the new 2016 Chevrolet Volt has a faster 0-60 mph time of 8.4 seconds, although top speed is electronically limited to 98 mph.
Those same power electronics also give drivers more control over regnerateive braking and coasting of the 2016 Volt, thanks to the inclusion of steering wheel paddle shifters. First explored by GM in the Cadillac ELR, the paddle shifters allow drivers to dynamically adjust the amount of regenerative braking applied on accelerator lift off, turning as much kinetic energy as possible into electrical energy in the battery pack every time the car slows.
The 40 percent improvement in rated range of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is also thanks to a new, next-generation lithium-ion battery pack made by LG Chem. Rated at 18.4 kilowatt-hours capacity, the battery is only marginally larger than the 17.1 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack in 2015 Chevrolet Volt, yet it weighs an impressive 21 pounds less and uses just 192 cells as oppose to the 288 cells in the battery pack of the previous Volt.
Finally, a new more efficient 1.5-litre gasoline engine gives the 2016 Chevrolet Volt a gasoline-only combined fuel economy of 42 mpg, up from the 37 mpg of its predecessor. While that’s far less than the 50 mpg combined of the outgoing Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid, GM says overall fuel economy for most owners will be far greater than that of the Japanese plug-in, since the majority of trips made by the Volt will be in all-electric mode.
Indeed, Chevrolet expects more than 90 percent of all trips made by owners of the new 2016 Chevrolet Volt to be made in all-electric mode. Currently, it claims around 80 percent of trips made by first-generation Volt owners are made in electric-only mode, but with a larger battery pack and dramatically improved range, that figure will rise as people switch to the all-new model.
GM also notes that many first-generation Volt owners easily exceed the EPA range estimate for their vehicles, managing anything from 40 to 50 miles of range per charge depending on driving style and environmental conditions. If the 2016 Chevrolet Volt behaves in a similar way, some lucky owners may be able to obtain real-world ranges in excess of 60 miles per charge with careful driving, although we should point out that most drivers will find themselves obtaining real-world ranges of between 45 and 55 miles per charge.
Even then however, this makes the Chevrolet Volt the most practical of range-extended electric cars for those who need to make the occasional long-distance trip: unlike the BMW i3 REx, whose tiny two-cylinder range-extending engine adds an additional 150 miles or so of range extension to the 72 miles of its EPA-approved all-electric range, the Volt can travel nearly 370 miles in range-extending mode.
The next-generation Chevrolet Volt will go on sale in September in the state of California, followed by a more general roll-out for other parts of the U.S. this fall. Priced from $33,995, it will likely be eligible for the same Federal tax credit and statewide incentives as its predecessor.
Unlike its predecessor however, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt won’t be making it to Europe, either as a Chevrolet model or as a rebadged Opel or Vauxhall model.
That’s because poor sales of the first-generation model has resulted in GM releasing the Volt initially as a North American only model, with no plans at all to even produce right-hand drive variants for markets like Australia, Japan or the UK.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.