GM’s all-new Volt ‘electric vehicle with extended range’ has debuted at last, making its first appearance on the Chevrolet stand in Detroit this week.
Revealed ahead of what could be a late 2015 or early 2016 debut for the Holden version, this new Chevrolet Volt brings a sleeker look and a greener package.
On the styling front, the new Volt wears a more conventional and curvaceous design than its first-generation predecessor, while maintaining that slightly oddball “it must be an EV…” appearance.
"The new Volt's design is all about windswept surfaces so everything flows together," John Cafaro, executive director of Chevrolet global design said today.
"It's a theme captured from the flowing lines of the fenders into the hood, to the carved body sides which are aerodynamically tuned and aligned with Chevrolet performance DNA."
Likewise, the cabin of the new Volt does away with the big glossy centre stack of the outgoing model and introduces a design that, with its tablet-like main display, could easily show up in any other GM model.
Importantly, the Volt is now a five-seater, up from four in the current model - although the centre seat, a humped design that also loses out on a head rest, won’t be the most comfortable centre seat around. (Strictly for kids or whichever adult passenger loses the rock-scissors-paper match… - Ed.)
Power from the Volt’s new two-motor electric drive system is listed at 111kW, with torque listed at 398Nm - matching the current model on output but increasing torque by 18Nm.
GM says the new motor package is 12 percent more efficient than the current model’s setup, and around 45kg lighter.
Likewise, the new Volt’s 18.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack is around 10kg lighter than the current model’s 16.5kWh unit.
The new Volt’s petrol-assisted electric powertrain promises an 80 kilometre driving range on battery power alone before the 1.5 litre range-extending engine kicks in.
(The Australian version of the current model already claims an 87km range, but the American version's mileage is lower at 61km.)
With the electric battery fully charged and the small petrol tank filled with regular petrol, overall driving range is claimed to be 676 kilometres - again up from 560km in the first-generation Volt, which required premium fuel.
GM says that, with regular charging, Volt drivers will likely achieve around 1600 kilometres of driving between petrol refills.
"Volt owners complete more than 80 percent of their trips without using a drop of gasoline and they tell us they love the electric driving experience. Putting that experience at the center of the new Voltec system's development helped us improve range, while also making the new Volt more fun to drive," Andrew Farah, vehicle chief engineer, said.
"We established a precedent when the original Voltec propulsion system debuted and this newest iteration sets the EV technology bar even higher."
Focusing on day-to-day city driving, the carmaker says the Volt can accelerate to 48kmh (30mph) in 2.6 seconds, compared to 3.2 seconds previously.
For the regular 0-60mph (0-96km/h) metric, GM claims an 8.4 second run.
Away from the powertrain, GM says it has also dramatically improved the Volt’s body structure, resulting in a stronger design and a quieter ride.
There’s also a new brake energy regeneration system that offers an improved feel, along with driver-selectable levels of regeneration.
Holden has yet to confirm plans for an Australian debut for the new Volt, but with a US launch scheduled for the second half of 2015, we could see this new model appear sometime in 2016.
GM claims more than 65,000 Volt cars have been sold in the US since its late 2010 debut, thanks in part to a lower retail price and considerable government incentives for the purchase of green cars.
Fewer than 500 examples of the Volt have been sold in Australia since arriving in October 2012, with sales hampered by a relatively high retail price of $59,990 and nearly zero federal support for green cars.
A lower price for this new model could help Holden position the Volt as a keener rival to the likes of Toyota’s Prius hybrid and Nissan’s electric Leaf, but GM has yet to offer any word on pricing for the new model.
Watch for more details to surface over the coming year.