BREAKING: 2015 Chevy Volt Gets 17.1 kWh Battery Pack

3 months ago by Eric Loveday 62

Model Year 2015 Chevy Volt Info

Model Year 2015 Chevy Volt Info

Previously, we had all believed that the Chevy Volt would soldier on into Model Year 2015 with only a few minor changes.  Well, that’s no longer true.

The 2015 Chevy Volt, available now at some dealerships, gets perhaps one of the most substantial changes the Volt has seen in several years.

For 2015, the Volt’s battery capacity jumps up from 16.5 kWh to 17.1 kWh.

Chevy Volt EPA Ratings

Historical Chevy Volt EPA Ratings – Last Change Occurred in 2013 When Range Moved From 35 to 38 miles and MPGE up 4

Officially, the 2015 Chevy Volt gets no additional electric-only miles, but unofficially even owners of some 2014 Volts had been reporting an increased full charge capacity, leading us to believe that perhaps this change was made sometime last year, but not announced until now for the Model Year 2015 Volt.

What this increased battery capacity translates into in the real world is unknown at this time, but we suspect that 2015 Volt owners will provide us with this data in due time.

Update:  We spoke to Chevy and they have both confirmed the pack size increase and that owners could very well see increased EV miles as a result – full story here.

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67 responses to "BREAKING: 2015 Chevy Volt Gets 17.1 kWh Battery Pack"

  1. Anderlan says:

    Big Four-Oh (40 miles).

  2. David Murray says:

    What do you want to bet the change happened when they moved production of the LG Chem batteries from S.Korea to the USA? Since not all Volts had the same battery, GM probably didn’t want to advertise the increased range on the 2014 model. Why they haven’t re-certified the range on the 2015, who knows.. Maybe they just don’t care anymore about the Volt until the 2016 comes out.

    1. GeorgeS says:

      Yes that’s odd they didn’t advertise an increase in range for the 2015….and the reason you point out for no advertisement in 2014 makes sense.

      Can’t wait for Gen 2.

    2. Nix says:

      In the gas car world, it is very traditional to use the previous year’s model MPG numbers for new models coming out. The EPA allows this.

  3. kdawg says:

    Now the question is… did they tweak the chemistry again, or add more cells? (or both)

    1. Josh says:

      This feels like another minor improvement to anode or cathode, similar to the last improvement.

      I really wish they would use more of the pack. I guess we will have to wait for Gen 2 for that.

    2. Taser54 says:

      There was a new chemistry last fall, but it was delayed. The delay arose because of the non-EPA approved substance in the US plant. LG had to import more batteries from Korea until that was resolved, so it is unclear when that supply ran out in model year 2014.

      1. Ocean Railroader says:

        If we could get three or four 5% to 10% each model year in battery chemistry we will be in good shape EV wise.

        A 5% to 10% raise in battery energy density would make the Chevy Spark a 90 to 100 mile range EV.

        1. Anthony says:

          GM is giving us 3.125% every 2 years on the Volt battery.

          16.0 to 16.5kWh is 3.125%
          16.5 to 17.1kWh is 3.125%

          I’m guessing these are the tweaks they can make to the existing manufacturing process without costing too much. To see the big step changes we have to wait for the next generation of the Volt.

  4. I got a 2014 Volt 2 months ago. My commute is about 50 miles roundtrip… over 60% on the highway.

    Based on my driving, I should be below the 38 mile estimate… however, I am almost always above it. 39-41 is most common.

    My lifetime literal MPG is 210. That is over double my range in my 2012 Volt I traded in.

    However, I have to wait for Winter to see these numbers change.

    1. ntam says:

      How come so many Volt drivers do not count the electricity they use when calculating their MPG. By that logic, pure electric cars should have infinity as the MPG because it never uses gas.

      1. Breezy says:

        Well, strictly speaking electric cars do have infinite MPG. It is “miles per gallon” of fuel after all.

        The Volt reports MPG to the driver, as do other plug-in hybrids. How accurate this is depends on your perspective. If you’re primarily interested in not using much gas for environmental or energy security reasons, then it’s the most accurate way to express the Volt’s efficiency. If you’re primarily interested in cost per mile, then electricity is low enough in cost compared to gas that MPG is close enough to communicate the concept

      2. VoltOwner says:

        You’re right, MPG is a lousy way to measure energy use. Read that again, it says Miles Per _Gallon_, not miles per KWH. So, quite literally true, in that his car has traveled X amount and used Y gallons.

        I always mention the electricity I use, mainly because it is about all I use. I could say that I’ve done 21,230 miles on 17 gallons of gas, and stop there, but I prefer to add that I used about $650 worth of electricity to do 20,650 miles on battery. Notice I did not say _bought_ electricity, but _used_, since my car runs on Solar energy and does not actually result in any out-of-pocket expenses, aside from the 3 gallons of premium I put in it every year.

      3. Dave-Phoenix says:

        1. Because electricity comes from domestic fuel sources, meaning “NO FOREIGN OIL”

        MPG is a measurement of your foreign oil consumption. A 200 MPG Volt driver uses 1/10th the amount of foreign oil as a 20 MPG pickup driver.

        2. Because the electrical cost is roughly 1/5th the gasoline cost for the same distance, making the electrical costs almost negligible…

        I went from $150 in gasoline costs per month to $25 in electrical costs per month… The 25 bucks is hardly worth mentioning…

    2. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      Yup, mine is comparable, and electric range tops out during spring/fall months at around 42mpc, while depth of winter bottom out closer to 24-26mpc. 100+F heat reduces range a bit, closer to 36mpc, but “city” mileage gets hit a bit harder since Eco AC at those temps in a precooled car run >=1kW constant vs 0.5kW when it’s a bit cooler or shadier.

      1. pjwood says:

        “Eco AC at those temps in a precooled car run >=1kW constant vs 0.5kW when it’s a bit cooler or shadier.”

        I don’t think enough credit has been given the energy displays, that started showing up on the 2013′s. It has made Volt owners much more informed about what is consuming the watts!

        http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?17411-2013-s-New-Regen-Gen-and-Engine-speed-display&highlight=hockey

        1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

          No kidding, and no excuse for GM to patch prior models with a software upgrade that provides it.

          I would like a lot more data though, such as graphing over time/altitude changes, etc.

  5. Evil Attorney says:

    I’m not sure how strategically GM is looking at these small bumps up in battery from a marketing perspective, but I think it really taps into the “cell phone” effect for some of us technophile early adopters. I would be much more likely to trade in for a new Volt after only a few years if I knew I would get more battery capacity.

  6. “For 2015, the Volt’s battery capacity jumps up from 16.5 kWh to 17.1 kWh.”

    So 2015 Volt battery been tweeked in ‘usable’ capacity, or ‘pack’ capacity change?

    1. The difference being to change ‘usable’ capacity is just a software tweet adjusting lowest usable SoC (State of Charge) and max. SoC.
    2. A tweet to ‘pack’ capacity would most likely be a tweet of cell chemistry at manufacturing level.
    3. Adding cell is less likely as would require redesign of wiring harnesses, and support in BMS (Battery Mansgement System) for added cells and a different operating voltage.
    4. a restatement of ‘usable’ capacity based on existing real-world driving data … the ~4% change could be chocked up to seasonable & environmental variation.

    Think news of a 18-20 kWh would be bigger news as means an increase of 10-15% in usable capacity and range.

    1. Sparkler says:

      #VoltXXXXX Increase Range to 40 miles today.

      ????

      The word I think you were looking for is Tweak, or Tweek, yes?

    2. Dan says:

      That’s a pack capacity change, not a usable SOC change.

      The pack capacity of the 2013-2014 was 16.5kWh, while the usable SOC was closer to 10.5kwH.

  7. mrenergyczar says:

    They should keep the same EPA range so they’ll be a larger range bump up on the next gen Volt…. 38 to 48 sounds better than 40 to 48….

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Just by capacity increase, it should increase range from 38 to 39 miles.

      But, on the 2013 they increased capacity by 0.5 kWh and increased the usable capacity by the same amount. It’s possible that they’ve seen something from the increased usable capacity that they didn’t like and decided that they’d use the latest chemistry tweak to increase capacity to balance it out.

      1. David Murray says:

        The original Volt had a 16 kWh battery pack. The 2013 had a 16.5 kWh pack. Now the 2015 has a 17.1 kWh pack. so that is .6 kWh increase. that should be a little over 2 miles of EPA range, boosting the Volt to that 40 miles figure they were always wanting.

        You may be right, though. They may just be keeping more in reserve. After all, if they allowed the car access to the same proportion of the battery as other EVs, the Volt would probably have around 55 miles of EPA range.

      2. Shaft says:

        Exactly what I was thinking.

  8. Spec9 says:

    NICE. This further increases their advantage over those shorter range EVs like the Ford Energi cars and the crappy PHEVs like the PiP.

    1. vdiv says:

      Assuming the “shorter range/crappier PHEVs” do not improve as well :)

      That would be a good news all around.

    2. Andrew says:

      Not that potential Volt customers would ever know; GM marketing at its finest.

      Hey did you know it’s TRUCK MONTH!

      1. Anthony says:

        HOW COME ITS ALWAYS TRUCK MONTH??? ;)

        When does Volt month come around again?

    3. qwerty says:

      How does it “further increase” if the specs (AER or MPG) don’t change?!?!?!?

      1. pjwood says:

        Efficiency numbers are submitted. I know, I too once thought that some EPA dude went out and cycled every model year of every model, of every manufacturer’s car, but their Stig doesn’t get around that much.

        We’re speculating that, as with the later ’14′s, GM is keeping it on the sly that they’ve added a little more cowbell. Now, being convinced the ’14s go to 11kwh DOD, I have no doubt the 38 miles of range are understated. I’ve been doing 46-50 this week, on a ’13.

        GM is not like Ford.

  9. Dennys says:

    and what about the charging time… The charger onboard 3.3 kw ? Still Too Slow for me !

    1. Aaron says:

      Volts don’t have to rely on the battery so there is little incentive to improve the charger. EVs, however, do rely on the battery, so the faster charge capability is necessary.

  10. qwerty says:

    So they increased the battery KWh, added lame tweaks and features but you still don’t get sh1t for it in mpg or AER.

    LAME!

    1. Clarksoncote says:

      They absolutely get more AER on a 2015 Volt as a result of this. It’s just that they didn’t decertify with the EPA so the numbers are unchanged on the window sticker.

      Another marketing fail in my opinion.

      1. pjwood says:

        Meh, they’ll get more marketing bang when they jump to a 2016 ad campaign, or at least maybe a bullhorn.

  11. Loboc says:

    It looks like the middle of SOC is being affected by these minor capacity improvements. Meaning that all the added capacity is also added AER.

    If we ‘only’ get .7 for 2016 (up to 17.8kwh), that’d be cool. I think everyone is expecting the 20% (or more to 19+kwh) that a former GM CEO was saying. That’d be about 51 AER with my drive cycle.

  12. Foo says:

    My friend’s 4-month old Volt is in the shop due to “transmission problems” (and have you seen the monstrosity of a transmission in that thing?) Sad really. They couldn’t pull the trigger on a full EV, and are now strapped with the same old ICE crap.

    1. Breezy says:

      I don’t know, monstrosity or cleverly packaged two electric motor plus ICE power blending device. Works wonderfully for me.

    2. sven says:

      When the electric motor on a Tesla Model S starts making a grinding noise and the Tesla service center has to replace the entire powertrain, do you say that Tesla is strapped with the same old BEV crap?

      1. Foo says:

        At least there’s only one moving part to be the source of any noise.

        1. Aaron says:

          Correct. The Volt uses a very (unnecessarily?) complex 3-clutch system. EREVs like the Fisker Karma and BMW i3 have only the electric motor attached to the drivetrain. The Volt uses a complex system to get more efficiency at higher speeds (>70 MPH). Not sure the tradeoff was worth it…

          1. Dan says:

            The i3 can’t even recapture REx heat for the cabin, and in a world where the ELR and Model S both exist, the Karma has no market niche.

            Voltec is the most ingenious drivetrain on the market, and GM’s engineers did an outstanding job with its development. Just because somebody knows someone who had a problem with their transmission (on a car which has one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings in automotive history), that doesn’t mean that the Volt’s drivetrain is somehow a failure.

    3. pjwood says:

      They were developing the Volt when lithium car batteries were >$1,000/kwh. Now, more kwh’s and higher motor RPMs, are cheaper to spec. Volt 2 could be series, like George S. has suggested, the Spark, etc. We’ll see.

      As an ICE comparison, the new dual clutch 6-8 speeds have two shafts, in stead of one, and the requisite 3-4 gears on each. The Volt merely has a second generator, and can clutch-in its engine. There, simple.

      I’ve had a DSG gearbox recall, but not one for the Volt’s transmission. It hasn’t left me on an on-ramp.

      1. GeorgeS says:

        so true pjwood
        all this biz about a complex gearbox is bull.
        The Volt’s only has one planetary gear set. How many does an 8 speed tranny have??

        500 LOL.

        The Volt’s simple ONE planetary gearset is the same as the Prius.
        ….oh and the transmission does have 3 clutches but the clutch discs are synched to exact speed by the computer before they engage.

        I know. I took the data off my own Volt.

        Here’s the article:
        http://gm-volt.com/2012/02/24/watching-the-volts-4et50-transmission-shift-gears-in-extended-range-mode/

    4. PS says:

      The Volt does not have a transmission, so how is it that your friend’s Volt does??

      I have had my 2012 Volt for 2.5 years with no problems at all. 31,500+ trouble free miles.

  13. Mikael says:

    Where are the significant changes?

  14. Disjunction says:

    Still 4 seats only? Glad I didn’t wait

    1. Breezy says:

      One more year. One more year.

  15. Holger says:

    Woah – 600 Wh more… that is two (2) more miles. I am impressed.

  16. Steve says:

    I bought a 2014 in Nov. Did I get the better battery? It shows 10.9 kWh used on depletion. On startup it shows mid 40s range available since April. Coldest day in Winter resulted in 26 miles AER.

    1. pjwood says:

      If 10.9kwh is average, sounds like a ‘yes’.

  17. Bob G says:

    Virtualy everyone in the USA understands MPG. It is the de-facto standard way to measure fuel economy. However, using MPG for alternative fuel vehicles is inaccurate at best and deceptive at worst.
    The EPA solved this problem with “MPGe,” which measures miles traveled per 33.1 kWh of energy. For gasoline, 1 MPG = 1 MPGe, but it allows a relevant comparison with other fuels (including electricity).
    My Volt gets about 65 MPGe on an average (combined city / highway and electric / gasoline). While that doesn’t sopund as sensational as 125 MPG, it is more honest, and it still makes a Prius look like a gas hog!

    1. Dan says:

      MPG for alternative fuel vehicles tells you one thing very clearly: your consumption of likely-foreign-sourced oil.

      For fuel efficiency, you are right to say that it’s an incomplete picture. But for gas consumption, it’s a perfectly valid metric.

    2. MrEnergyCzar says:

      They should rate all cars, regardless of fuel source, in Miles Per Dollar or MPD…..

    3. Nate says:

      MPGe causes more problems than it solves.

      MPGe has so many flaws. 1 gallon of gasoline does not equal 33.7 kWh of electricity in terms of either the cost or impact to the environment, but the conversion assumes it does.

      Making it the most prominent number on the MSRP sticker is a mistake. It makes some cars with short AER look, like the Accord PHEV, look more efficient than many BEV’s.

      1. Mikael says:

        It’s kind of strange that the US uses so many different home made units instead of international ones. I have often heard the excuse (from US citizens) that they can’t learn a new system.
        Yet they are somehow able to learn new home made units if they sound like the old ones.

        Maybe we should just rename the different units like a kWh could be called a FahrenheitMPHfeet. :)

  18. anonymous says:

    I still don’t see the point to buy an electric vehicle that depends on fossil fuel to charge its batteries and keep running. I don’t see anything green in this car. If people want to reduce their fuel bill and cut CO2 emissions, the only way is to go electric. As a friend said, buy a Nissan Leaf, save fuel and cut your daily CO2 emission and in the event that you need to make a long trip, pay the flight ticket with the money saved…

    1. Breezy says:

      You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    2. EV says:

      Did you even read what you just said

  19. taser54 says:

    I’m going to speculate that the 2015 model year will be a short one for the Volt. in light of very minor changes, no new EPA cert, small increase in battery capacity.

    New Volt 2.0 appears at Detroit Auto Show and is available shortly after that.

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