Insider: 1.4L Engine Discontinued in 2014 Chevrolet Volt (Update: Didn’t Happen For MY 2014)

3 years ago by Jay Cole 44

The 1.4L Four Cylinder Engine Currently Found in the Chevrolet Volt

All we had known for sure about the future of the Chevrolet Volt was that it will be undergoing a powertrain upgrade in about a year’s time.  That is until now.   A source inside the company (who did not wish to be identified) apparently confirmed to InsideEVs that the 83 hp, 1.4L engine that is currently in use as an extended range generator for the Volt will not be in the 2014 model year that begins production in the summer of 2013.

It is thought that the 1.4L engine found in the Volt today was never the first choice of engineers who were designing the car, but was mated to the platform strictly out of the availability of the engine.  When debuting the concept Volt, GM had envisioned a specially designed engine to optimize performance for the Volt, but had to abandon any such plan because of a freeze on all research and development in the period where GM was entering bankruptcy, and the Volt was in development.

When asked about what the replacement engine might be, it was said that apparently a new 2.0L turbo has been thoroughly vetted on the platform, and will most likely see its way into production of the Volt (and upcoming Cadillac ELR).  This is the same engine that GM has recently confirmed will also find a home in the Chevy Cruze Deluxe Buick Verano, a car which incidently rides on the same Delta II platfrom as the Volt.   The output of the 2.0L turbo currently ranges from 220hp to 270hp.

UPDATE (01/14/2013):  A new ICE engine (just a new electric motor) did not materialize as GM announced the 2014 Cadillac ELR today.  This new engine/powertrain may have been pushed back to the generational update for MY 2015)

The New 2.0L Turbo for 2014 Volt and Cadillac ELR?

 

Cadillac ELR Concept

This new engine would not only give the Volt and Ampera a more capable engine, but will allow the all new ELR (which will built on the same platform), to perform more inline with its sporty appearance, and the expectations of the Cadillac brand in general.

Mike Anderson, who is Global Chief engineer for Ecotec engines at GM said of this motor, which is found inside the Buick Regal GS, “Our continuously variable valve timing is tuned to work in tandem with direct injection and twin scroll turbocharging to achieve optimum fuel economy, lower emissions, and instant performance when needed. Having 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque available over a wide range of engine speeds makes for a very exciting driving experience.”

As for the fate of the current electric drive unit (149 hp/273 lb.-ft. of torque) that actually drives the current Volt wheels, our insider had no knowledge of any future decisions by GM. However, one assumes if the 1.4L is out for a much larger engine, that the electric motor has to go as well.

 

Ecotec 2.0L Turbo: One of the “10 Best Engines” Award by WardsAuto World

 

GM officials would not confirm or deny the inside information InsideEVs has obtained.   “Unfortunately, we do not comment on future product details,” said GM spokesperson Kevin Kelly, “so I cannot provide any information related to your inquiry.”

The 2013 Volt will not have these engine changes, but as we reported previously the battery pack has been tweaked to squeeze out an additional 3 miles of range.  There will also be an optional rear seat arm rest, a real time energy use dashboard display, and replacement of the dark colored rear hatch door and roof panels by body paint.  There will also be an additional two optional paint colors.

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44 responses to "Insider: 1.4L Engine Discontinued in 2014 Chevrolet Volt (Update: Didn’t Happen For MY 2014)"

  1. Schmeltz says:

    I expected a different engine to be offered in the Volt in future generations, but my main concern with the 2.0 L engine would be, what will happen with the range extender efficiency. You would think with a bigger engine, the gas efficiency would decrease. Not a good thing if that’s the case.

    1. backstroke says:

      Agreed, makes no sense to me why you would need such an ICE just to produce power to drive the electric engine. Got to wonder if this is accurate, or if some other element is missing which fits in with this change to make it understandable.

  2. Josh says:

    When is GM going to put this Voltec package in a CUV? They should go with an SRX variant over the ELR.

    IMO it is the big gap in the near term product offerings. That is the vehicle better suited for the trip to grandma’s house and benefit most from not using gas on the daily trip to work.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      …GM did trademark the name “Crossvolt” about this time last year, so you might get your wish

      null

      1. Josh says:

        I missed that. Thanks for the intel.

        Looking to replace the wife’s Murano in the next 3 years and I have made the demand, nothing without a plug. She liked Ford Escape Plug-In concept, but it does not look destined for production.

        1. Bergism says:

          You might want to look into the Ford C-Max Energi. I read that it should be released this year.

  3. That’s surprising to me. I really figured they would go in the other direction and try to improve the efficiency of the generator of the volt, not the power. I think it would be a better strategy for the volt for them to get the mpg mode in CS up to 50 and just maintain the current performance. The ELR would would seem to be a better use for a higher performance, lower MPG range extender in my opinion.

  4. scottf200 says:

    Drove 140 miles one way this weekend and got 61 “MPGused”. Hotel let me charge so I got that same thing coming home. Mileages is fine with me for reasonable trips of 150 miles or less. Heck even the 40 MPG on long trips like my one from NY to IL when first got the car was great. Beats most cars on the road!

    If the above article is true then that is my next car.

    1. Sterling says:

      I have a 1200 ft elevation change, up and down again, any time I leave my valley. 50+ (each way) mile commute to Santa Barbara and I get 54MPG.

  5. ClarksonCote says:

    Real time energy use dashboard display? Hmm, any other details there?

    I’m slightly perturbed about the bigger engine, that implies worse fuel economy doesn’t it? Unless it can run at a more optimal point given Volt’s weight?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Just as random FYI:

      2.0L Turbo in the Buick GS is rated at 270 hp and gets 27 mpg highway
      2.0L Turbo in the Buick Verano rated at 250 hp, and gets an estimated 31 mpg highway

      Depending on the application, you’d likely be seeing an optimized/less powerful version in the Voltec. I’d wager there would be little change in the mpg in CS mode, but it would be up for the job when it comes to the ELR, and maybe the MPV5/CrossVolt. Hard to imagine the little 1.4L was all that efficient in the Volt.

      1. ClarksonCote says:

        Interesting, thanks Statik.

        Would love to see this CrossVolt/MPV5 come to fruition. Any insider news in your back pocket there aside from the trademark acquisition? :)

        1. Jay Cole says:

          No, there is nothing really out there on the MPV5/Crossvolt…at least that I know.

          I think when GM decided to not put the Orlando (ICE version) into the US market (although they sell them in Canada) the MPV5 got pushed back as well. If I am taking a WAG, I’d say GM still has plans for it, but with all the changes next year, your probably looking at the year after that. Summer of ’14.

          Sidenote: I don’t know if I expressed this clearly or not in my article, I believe I did, but the only ‘for sure’ item was that the 1.4L was indeed gone. The source was very confident the 2.0L turbo would be in Volt/ELR 1.5, having said it was tested on the Voltec platform…but wasn’t 100%, as the source was for the removal of the existing 1.4L engine itself.

  6. Airton says:

    More Battery less Engine please GM.
    Look at BMW’s i3 approach: lighten the car using composites, 22 KWh battery, 130 kw motor, 2 cylinder refined motorcycle engine as a range extender with 2 gallon gas tank.

    1. Nelson says:

      Totally agree. If GM doesn’t take BMW’s i3 with REx option seriously they will lose most Voltec customers.

      NPNS!
      Volt#671

    2. BlindGuy says:

      For my needs, I prefer the BMW I3RX approach. However, the 2L turbo could be more versatile; efficient yet more power when needed for more models [MPV] or performance fun [SS]. If this is the new ICE choice; I don’t see the price of the Volt going down, in fact I could see the price going up JMO.
      Jay, great scoop BTW!

  7. DrInnovaiton says:

    A bigger engine need not mean lower MPG..it can increase as it did for Prius GenII to Gen III which moved from 1.5L to 1.8L. A larger engine allows one to run at lower RPM and can often have a larger and more efficient sweet spot at “low” power. If you rev it hard and/or need more power it will waste gas, but the Voltec line has EV motors to fill in the gaps and limit the every day need for high RPMS.

    1. Marc Lee says:

      I think the Dr. has hit the nail on the head. One big complaint about the Volt is those times when the 1.4L has to rev really high to keep up with demand. The 2.0 can probably be tuned to be on par in efficiency and can also handle heavy demand without screaming like a burned banshee.

  8. scottf200 says:

    a) The reason I thought this was good was because I “assumed” it would also some with a more powerful electric motor and generator (motor). Since I don’t use the ICE a lot this is what I would like about it. They need this aspect for the ELR right?

    b) Wouldn’t this then also mean there is no silly “mountain mode”. That was added because the current configuration could not keep up.

    I would guess there may be two voltec platform options on the Volt. Standard and Performance.

    1. Rick says:

      Gm has already said there is going to be a upgrade of electric drive when the elr comes out. the volt gets around okay but the cadillac needs more power, makes sense the car will need a more powerful extended range motor

    2. Function says:

      Given the AER and Hold mode, CS highway mileage is more important than city and I think the Prius’ move from 1.5L to 1.8L shows that a 2.0L wouldn’t hurt typical CS mileage and could even help it.

      In addition using the same engine as others at the plant makes economic sense.

      Additional engine weight would be my biggest concern.

      1. SunnyBeaches says:

        The Ecotec LHU has an aluminum block, The LUU has cast iron, so the 2.0 might be lighter even given it’s extra bolt-ons.

  9. Rashiid Amul says:

    I highly doubt GM will “dumb down” the car’s MPG.
    They have probably looked at the stats and realized how most people drive the car.
    I would bet they are looking are better efficiency. I think the car is rated at 37 mpg. I bet it stays the same for 2014.

  10. Rashiid Amul says:

    And Statik, how the heck are you doing, my friend? It has been quite a while.
    I hope life up north is doing you good. :)

  11. scottf200 says:

    Related to this discussion is that turbos seem to be the trend:
    Millions of turbocharged vehicles making for greater efficiency
    By Don Bain on Wed, 05/30/2012
    http://www.torquenews.com/397/millions-turbocharged-vehicles-making-greater-efficiency
    “Turbochargers are both quietly and vociferously changing the vehicles on the roads of today, as more and more cars, like the 11 models with EcoBoost engines coming from Ford this year, as well as top sellers like the Chevy Cruze and Sonic come off the showroom floor with this option built right in.

  12. Herm says:

    I always thought the 1.4L engine was a bit undersized, but going all the way to a 2.0L turbo is a big jump.. I had predicted the 1.8L engine used in the base Cruze.

    Why upgrade the engine:

    1. genset will not have to rev so high in the hybrid mode, it will be much quieter in that mode.
    2. prestige.. to stop that odious comparison many people make with a Cruze
    3. get rid of the Mountain Mode
    4. better economy in the hybrid mode, since the engine can run in its optimum point.. plus an atkinson (actually miller cycle) turbo engine with DFI may achieve higher efficiency through higher compression ratios. The turbo will be optimized for the application, no need to get rid of turbo lag.
    5. higher performance

  13. Gary says:

    “However, one assumes if the 1.4L is out for a much larger engine, that the electric motor has to go as well.” ???

    Jay – please clarify.

  14. Brewster says:

    Will there be enough room in the engine bay for the tubo motor and a larger electric motor?

  15. Herm says:

    I dont think there is a need to increase the two electric motors, but they probably will for bragging rights.

  16. BillR says:

    Lot of familiar names here. I hope everyone is doing well.

    I don’t get much time to keep up with the latest in EV’s or the Volt, but several months ago I did get to visit an A123 facility where they make “Grid Solutions”, basically a large battery system that can absorb or feed power to the grid for stabilization. It is trailer mounted (tractor trailer size) and can be shipped to a site. It can provide up to 2 MW of power, and 500 kWh of energy. Larger systems are being developed to be supplied with large wind farms – store power off peak and return it to the grid on peak.

    I also learned that they have developed a new cell for F1 racing that can deliver 20,000 W/kg. It is their 18700 cell, and in F1 it stores braking energy and can return up to 60kW of power (F! lilmit).

    http://www.a123systems.com/baef9f26-39e3-4173-8d99-fe08ad5130af/resources-overview-registration.htm

    This link can provide more info (See page 9).

    http://www.levassociation.com/assets/26-rechargeable_high_power_lithium_batteries-1.pdf

    If GM included a small pack of these cells specifically for power, they could provide power for both MG1 and MG2 simultaneously, provided the transmission was beefed up to handle to torque.

    If both MG1 and MG2 are upgraded to 111 kW (identical for manufacturing volume), this could provide almost 300 hp for short bursts like off the line or passing.

    Things should get interesting next year.

  17. I think the Chevy Volt is a JOKE, Its not a true electric vehicle like the Nissan Lief and Ford Focus Electric. I don’t see where its any different than a Hybrid vehicle, as it still has a gasoline engine and doesn’t get as good mileage as the Ford Fusion Hybrid, or Toyota Hybrids. Its a Chineese joke!!!

    1. scottf200 says:

      My last 2000 miles on 1.1 gallons of gas show it can be driven very much like an electric car. 40 mile BEV then PHEV after than. The MAJOR difference between the Volt EREV platform is that is uses all battery power first and then gas second. Typically Plugin Hybrid Elect Veh turn on the gas engine (ICE) under hard accel *OR* ~62 MPH !! That is a major diff.

  18. Ryan says:

    Honestly I would prefer to see a 500cc or so motor so the motor is truly just a backup for long trips when you must use it. The volt only requires about 15hp to move 55mph on flat ground, so you really don’t need all that motor.

    This is what the rav4 ev team did and that blocky unaero SUV got the same MPG as the volt. To make the best use of 500cc a 2 cycle GDI or turbo would be needed and people would need to preselect the gas mode at the start of long trips.

    There is no reason the current volt motor/gen combo can’t get 50mpg with a little tuning, they could beat the prius in the gas only category with a smaller genset.

  19. ctmaverick says:

    OK! I believe that this is great news and so do some readers, but many of you are caught off guard by the 2.0L change.
    Here is my WAG as to why this is happening and some of you hit on it but mayhaps missed the forest for the trees.

    Volt’s fixed properties:
    1. Must have an engine (duh right!)
    2. Must have a 16KWH minimum battery to qualify for the full tax credit

    Many of you guessed that mountain mode could be eliminated but failed to also realize that this WILL free up an additional 2-3KWH that the car currently withholds from drivers to propel the car in CS mode.
    In short this engine change will result in a CD (battery) range of 45-50 miles and a mpg of 40-45mpg.

    1. GreenWin says:

      Which will likely lower the overall cycle-life of the battery – shortening the warranty period and possibly voiding the tax credit. Unless they move to a new battery as well. Weight is a real issue at 2.0L…

  20. I can imagine a low-rev low-boost turbocharged engine, but I think of terrible packaging issues. It’s a tight fit under the hood of a Volt. Engineers would have a real hard time trying to squeeze a larger turbocharged engine with an intercooler.

  21. Bob Jordan says:

    The only way GM could improve the Volt would be to extend its range. Not sure how a larger ICE impacts that.

  22. Steve says:

    Would the bigger engine allow the Volt to generate power in excess of need and actually recharge the battery and become more of a user’s discretion thing?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      It could allow for charging of the battery by the ICE, but GM has always said that it won’t happen. Practically, it doesn’t make much sense. It is much more inefficient than strictly powering the electric motor directly.

  23. Stanley Wu says:

    I hope they downsize the electric motor and battery to make it like a Prius. The series hybrid has always been doomed to failure. Too heavy and expensive, not efficient enough.

  24. Bill Howland says:

    Yeah, as stated by a few posters b4 me, I think this is going in the wrong direction. I want basically an EV.
    I don’t want more money spent on something I rarely use, usually only 1 day / month.

    Maybe the answer is :Bring back options to the Car Buying Process.

    Years ago you could buy the same car either fully loaded or stripped. At a huge price range.

    For those who want a 2000 cc turbo, fine.

    For me: Please give me a 22 kwh battery and a 350 cc / 20 hp 1 cylinder engine. The resulting 70 mile battery only range will be great for me, plus if I want to take a long trip, I can do that too.

    But most of the time, that 20 hp 1 cyl engine will be unused, and I won’t have a lot of money tied up in something I rarely use.

  25. danwat1234 says:

    They should not be looking to increase power of the engine, they should be looking to increase the fuel efficiency of it. Because, as it stands, the battery depleted fuel economy of the vehicle isn’t outstanding. They should be looking to use an Atkinson cycle engine at the very least, like the Prius engine, but hopefully more like an HCCI engine for even more efficiency.

    I agree that a bit more displacement (maybe 1.8L) is needed if going to an Atkinson cycle engine because there is less compression with an Atkinson cycle engine so a larger displacement is needed for the same power output.

    Crossing my fingers

  26. Bill Howland says:

    @Bill R

    You mentioned making both large motors (110 kw I think is how they refer to them, not 111) the same for a reduction of parts. I don’t think this is possible since the MG2 as I understand it turns at roughly 1/3 the speed of MG1, due to being in the next stage of gear reduction due to the planetary gearset. So to have the same power output it would have to be 3 times the torque, and therefore larger. Obviously a new synergy drive (motor, gearset , spider, and clutches) would have to be specified.

    @danwat1234
    I agree that the smartest thing to do would be to reconfigure the synergy drive to be the way the prius uses it (I’ve made the claim that the whole thing is a basic toyota style design anyway. I know TRW considered this, but the prius gets honorable mention due to being the first production car actually built with it), in other words use the engine and motor at the same time when performance is wanted. That would more effectively use the power under the hood since all devices would be trying to push the car.

    I don’t understand why they don’t go for a 2 cyl or a 3 cylinder turbo as they originally intended. Seems like more wasted engineering money on a vehicle that has been sufficiently perfected.

    Another thing: I thought this engine came from an Opel Austrian Plant, or maybe its being made in the states now. With all the uproar over in Europe and unprofitability of Opel, shouldn’t they really just have continued to produce the same engine over there to keep the Opel Engine plant workers happy?

  27. I was hoping for an engine-generator set(s) that could be left behind in the garage for about town traveling. Now we must drag around a 2L ICE?

    I was also hoping that one fine day GM might figure out that it should build an aerodynamic car, one with a clean bottom, boat tail, and enclosed wheel wells. Even as an experiment, it would be a worthwhile project.