Official: 2016 Chevy Volt To Get 1.5-Liter, 4-Cylinder Range Extender


More 2nd Gen Volt Teasing Coming Soon

More 2nd Gen Volt Teasing Coming Soon

General Motors let slip some details on the next-generation 2016 Chevy Volt in a press released focused on “new Michigan investments.”

Buried in the press release is GM’s confirmation of the range-extending engine that the next-gen Model Year 2016 Volt will receive:

“GM’s Flint Engine Operations will build the 1.5-liter, four-cylinder range extender for the Volt. The unit is part of an all-new engine family.”

Rather than going with a smaller three-cylinder engine as most of us suspected, General Motors is in fact upping the displacement on the next-gen Volt from today’s 1.4 liters to 2016’s 1.5 liters.

Here’s a look at three of the next-gen Ecotec engines:

Next-Gen Ecotec Engines

Next-Gen Ecotec Engines

General Motors lists two next-gen 1.5-liter Ecotec engines: 1.5 direct injection and 1.5 direct injection turbo.  The Volt will get one of those two engines (we’d venture to guess that the turbo version is not on the menu for the next-gen Volt).  For reference, the Chinese version of the Chevrolet Cruze comes with the new 1.5-liter Ecotec engine.  Its output is quoted by GM as such:

“The 1.5 SIDI engine, the segment’s only naturally aspirated engine with direct injection, generates maximum output of 84 kW and peak torque of 146 Nm.”

GM further states this of the China Cruze and its engine:

“Its mid-mounted direct injection engine technology and wide range of fuel-saving features such as start/stop technology and ultra-low rolling resistance tires make the new Cruze up to 24 percent more fuel efficient than the current-generation Cruze. The engines offer peak fuel economy of only 5.9 liters per 100 km. In addition, they are up to 50 percent quieter than engines in competitive models.”

Additionally, GM says that the next-gen Volt will be more American-made than the outgoing model.

Here’s the investment graphic from GM:

GM Investment Graphic

GM Investment Graphic

Full press release from General Motors below:

GM to Announce New Michigan Investments at Detroit Economic Club


Chevrolet Volt electric drive unit to be built in Warren, Mich.
Michigan established as GM’s global center of excellence for vehicle electrification

DETROIT –Today at the Detroit Economic Club, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) CEO Mary Barra will confirm that the company’s Warren Transmission Plant will build the electric drive unit for the second-generation Chevrolet Volt. That means most major Volt powertrain components – from its battery cells to its range-extender – will be made in Michigan, establishing the state as the company’s global engineering center of excellence for vehicle electrification.

At the same time, Barra will announce capital investments of nearly $300 million in Michigan between now and the end of the year. Details will be announced later.

“We must provide the breakthrough technology that our customers want,” said Barra. “Our investments in the Chevy Volt and Michigan signify our commitment to lead the industry in technology and innovation.”

Since 2009, GM has announced more than $11 billion in investments in the United States, with almost half of that investment committed to Michigan.

In addition, GM has worked with its UAW partners to develop initiatives that will lead to more than 22,600 jobs in the United States. This hiring has begun and will continue over the next few years, and many of these jobs will be based in Michigan.

Approximately $1.82 billion in capital has been invested in projects dedicated specifically to vehicle electrification.

GM’s Brownstown Township facility is the country’s first high-volume lithium-ion battery pack manufacturing site operated by a major automaker.
The Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR are assembled at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.
GM’s Flint Engine Operations will build the 1.5-liter, four-cylinder range extender for the Volt. The unit is part of an all-new engine family.
Warren Transmission will build the GM Voltec 4ET50 Multi-Mode Electric Drive Unit, which allows the Volt to drive in pure electric or extended range electric mode.

Battery cells for the Volt and ELR are produced by LG Chem in Holland, Mich., and the Volt’s vehicle’s electric motors will also be made in the United States.

Within the first year of production, about 70 percent of the Volt’s parts will be made in the United States or Canada, which GM believes is the most for a plug-in or conventional hybrid.

Volt Facts

Since the Volt was launched in 2010, owners driving in pure electric mode have helped reduce gasoline consumption by more than 25 million gallons.
Based on a GM study of more than 300 2011-2012 model year Volts in service in California, many owners exceed the EPA-rated label of 35 miles of EV range per full charge, with about 15 percent surpassing 40 miles of range.
Volt owners who charge regularly typically drive more than 970 miles between fill-ups and refuel less than once a month. The 2014 Volt provides owners with EPA-estimated fuel economy of 98 MPGe (electric) and 35 mpg city/40 mpg highway on gasoline power.
Nearly 70 percent of Volt buyers are new to GM. The Toyota Prius is the most frequently traded-in vehicle for a Volt.
Volt is the most successful plug-in electric vehicle in the United States, with cumulative sales of more than 69,000 vehicles.

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world’s largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at

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62 Comments on "Official: 2016 Chevy Volt To Get 1.5-Liter, 4-Cylinder Range Extender"

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That makes me wonder if they are taking more of Ford’s approach of using a smaller electric motor and requiring the gas engine to help during periods of acceleration. I hope that isn’t the case.

While I do support the PHEV design you describe, I sure hope the Volt isn’t going that route.

Maybe they are keeping the same electric motor, but also allowing the gas engine to help in some sort of “Sport” mode? GM has said that Volt 2.0 will be “better in every way”. Making the electric motor weaker seems to run counter to that goal. But using the gas engine for better acceleration could be argued as a means to that end.

I wonder what the efficiency will be of this engine in CS mode. Hopefully better than the 38MPG of the current version. To get better efficiency in this mode, it probably does make sense to let the car operate as a parallel hybrid more often. So maybe that’s when they’ll hook up the gas engine.

The press release mentions the 4ET50 transmission, which is the same as the current generation. Since the part number is the same, the motors inside should be the same as the current Volt. As mentioned by another poster, the difference may only be where the transmission is built.

I think it’s because the Gen2 car is slightly bigger, and may need more ICE power when in RE mode. Also as GM states, this engine is more efficient, so it will help the MPG in RE mode as well.

Slightly larger engine might be able to work in a pulse-and-glide running mode while on the highway. Could offer further power mapping choices. I just hope they can add 3-5 mpg for sustained highway driving at 65mph.

I don’t think we will see a smaller electric motor. 10 more kw or so of ICE will be perfect. The Volt could use just a tad more power on a 5% grade in RE mode. I drive one every day in my Volt and did a pretty comprehensive data analysis of it:

I also have a Prius and quite frankly the Prius is better on NHV than the Volt on a 5% grade.

and 24% better ICE efficiency may give us another 7 MPG of so in RE mode so we could see 42 MPG…….not super but better.

What disappoints me about this decision is we won’t get the weight savings that the turbo 3 would give us. 100 pounds cut would have been nice….not to mention the compounding effect on MPG in RE mode.

all in all somewhat of a disappointment for me that the turbo 3 is out.

Very disappointing to me. So what BMW i3 can do with 2 cyl 600cc true range extender the Volt needs to have 1.5 litr, 4 cyl.? What kind of technology innovation is that? So the Volt is hardly a true electric car, if in fact it has on top of the EV equipment an entire engine just like any other regular car. Likely will be heavy, over engineered and expensive. EVs need to get to price level with gasoline cars without subsidies to be viable in long term. Volt cannot be in the same price range ever if in fact it will have all the necessary equipment for 2 separate power trains (with the exception of transmission). Also the maintenance will be higher, because a lot more parts to go bad in 2 combined power units than in one or the other. GM why are you going backwards? More battery, less gasoline – that is the way to go. Going long TESLA.

Have the BMW i3 and the Volt climb a grade that is longer than a mile and tell me who wins. The i3 cannot do, as you claim, what the Volt can do, given their smaller engine.

That said, I was hoping for a smaller engine in the Volt that could continue to perform well in such circumstances. Color me confused.

The BMW’s range extender isn’t capable of directly powering the wheels; the Volt’s is, even the Volt 2.0. That’s how BMW is able to use a tiny engine to help keep the battery charged. That’s all it does.
In some conditions, the engine already drives the wheels. And I experienced both motors accelerations at low speeds myself, we can see that on the 2013 display only, on the yellow-green “y” .

Toyota put a bigger ICE in the 2010 version. 1.8L vs 1.5L in previous versions.

We can see here clearly that there is no will from manufacturers to evolve toward electricity and significally reduce oil use.

Established ICE cars manufacturers are still the best friends of Big Oil.

Will it be a real range extender like the i3 or will it be coupled to the electric motor like the present Volt and the Prius. My guess is it will be coupled since they got away with the rumour that the ICE never drove the wheels, which is false greenwashing again.

“Mode 4: High-speed series-parallel hybrid mode up to top speed. This is classic gasoline-powered series-parallel operation. You can’t have both electric motors driving the car at high speed like we saw in Mode 2 because the battery is discharged, meaning that the second motor-generator must continue to be a generator driven by the engine. This is where the engine begins to directly drive the ring gear. The engine is already clutched to the second motor-generator, so a straight-through mechanical connection is established when the ring’s motor-generator clutch is engaged. Compared to Mode 3, the engine works harder here because it is simultaneously driving the ring gear and the shaft of the generator.”

It would explain also a 35% usage of gas as scottf200 pointed out..

Not sure how this explains 35% of gas usage. That would be determined by how far people drive, how often the plugin in, and how often they use hold mode.

The direct link of the ICE to the drive train is at speeds of 70mph+ and was more efficient than doing a series connection.

Explains a little bit of… 😉

A slightly bigger electric motor would have suffice. Hey is it the best GM can do for global warming?!?

That mode4 only happens in the “REX mode”.

Why does the REx mode impact how it is in the EV mode?

EREV is defined by its EV mode, NOT its REX mode…

god no.

ford fusion sucks

I have read somewhere that the 2016 Volt electric motor will be smaller but there will be two motors instead of one. This is to reduce weight.

I don’t get it. They always publish their data about how more often Volt drivers use the al electric mode rather than the ICE range extender. So they decide to built in a more potent motor (though more efficient, granted)?

Now they just need to not increase the AER to completely screw it.

And maybe HOLD MODE won’t be needed anymore.

You hit the nail on the head.

The press release states Warren Transmission will build the GM Voltec 4ET50 Multi-Mode Electric Drive Unit, which is the same transmission in the current generation Volt.

If I remember correctly, my window sticker mentioned that the current transmission was built in Japan though.

Just read on that GM pulled the 4ET50 designation from press release. Sure enough, if you go to, it’s not there anymore.

This is all fine by me, – the power levels listed in this article have nothing to do with the volt. As the current VOlt’s power level is less than that Cruze, I would imagine they’d continue the Atkinson cycle valve timing.

The 100cc displacement increase is a bit of a head scratcher, but my 1400 cc model was made in Austria to solve a labor problem there at the time (early 2011).

No disagreements so far with Mary Barra, although I hope she doesn’t let all this “Woman of the Year” crap go to her head. Bob Lutz likes her, so I assume that means she’s level-headed.

I could have sworn there was a press release stating the VOlt would have 1000 cc, but then either the VP didn’t know what he was talking about, or else there was a last-minute decision to build the stuff under license from that Toyota subsidiary totally in Michigan, which no doubt keeps the UAW heppy.

I think we’ll know a bit more come January ’15.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

The current Volt is Otto cycle. Boring/stroking out to 1.5l should reduce weight along with going with aluminum block, and adding Atkinson valve timing/engine mgmt would be even better.

Having both Otto cycle and Atkinson cycle on a ICE like Toyota’s VVT-iW system would be even better. It’s the best of both worlds. Toyota’s VVT-iW system “allows the engine to run in the Atkinson cycle at low revs for improved fuel economy and lower emissions, and in the Otto cycle at higher engine speeds for enhanced power delivery and performance, while delivering high torque output throughout the rev band.”

I thought the engine in Volt 1.0 already was Atkinson-esque since it features a different camashaft (or camshafts) than the regular Cruze 1.4L. But the new engine probably will improve the thermal efficiency further.

I heard that Honda’s Earth Dreams engines would have on the fly Atkinson / OTTO behavior too, but we will have to wait and see. With the Accord Earth Dreams, in the regular car it’s just direct injected OTTO and in the hybrid it’s just Atkinson so maybe for the Civics it’ll have both.

OK, Doctor you’re right. Somewhere along the line I assumed that since the car is so similar to the Toyota Prius, that the engines had similar valve timing.

I stand corrected.. Thank you. Apparently the efficiency is due to the decreased volumetric ratio.

err… Increased ratio (what people commonly call the ‘compression ratio’)

I’d like to know if this new 1.5-L ICE is lighter than the existing 1.4-L ICE.
Quieter is a good thing. Quieter and lighter is better.


The 1.4 ICE has an iron block, if they go with aluminum with the 1.5 (and by looking at the pictures, the block seems to be the same color as the heads), they will be lighter.

Interesting that GM is building the drive unit in Warren. GM has an electric motor facility in Baltimore that makes the drive motor and transmission for the Spark. I would think that they would want to pool resources for the parallel lines.

This is a good move if they use atkinson cycle valving. If they do that it will be less expensive to produce and just as efficient as the 1L turbo, but no mention of that. The 1.4L wasn’t powerful enough to go atkinson cycle.

Larry (GM transmission and electrical propulsion) was announced to be on Volt’s Facebook page today at 3 PM EST to make some kind of announcement. Let’s all head over there and ask some profound questions.

Its hearsay, but over on GMV there were reports that two formulas are indeed coming. The 1.5 could mate with ~17kwh, as GM goes for volume and tucks itself back into the heard. They can still claim “class leading PHEV range”. Then, the REx oriented version of the car, that we’re speculating about, might still have a 3-cyl as well as the range topping improvements we seek.

GM could do so much for an extra 10 grand.

Dumb question… (I’m an EE, not ME…)

Can the 1.5L range extender support towing? If so, then GM can put the Volt Gen 2 power train in a small CUV and give it towing capability.

Likewise, would the 1.0L turbo support towing?

Of course towing will not be officially supported by GM. But the Volt is a rather heavy car and it has a lot of sensors to check for temperature so it shouldn’t have a problem towing 1000 pounds, maybe 1500 pounds. Heck, I towed about 1500 pounds with my ’99 Civic automatic and it didn’t break and weighs more than 1000 pounds less than Volt 1.0

Why do I still expect an all electric Volt … It was supposed to replace the Ni-MH EV1 who already got more than 125 miles on a single charge 15 years ago.
And it was supposed to be a serial-hybrid only back in 2007…

The really important difference between a serial drive train and a parallel is that the serial (with a separate range extender like the i3) must be basically a full fledged BEV with all the power, silence, torque, efficiency etc of the Electric drive.

Once people taste the electric drive, they will never want to get back to stinking, noisy, and vibrating gas engines.

This is an enough good reason for car makers NOT to provide us with such vehicles.

Yeah – BMW, are you listening?

Volt is already an EV in its EV mode.

“The really important difference between a serial drive train and a parallel is that the serial (with a separate range extender like the i3) must be basically a full fledged BEV with all the power, silence, torque, efficiency etc of the Electric drive. ”

Really? If by your reasoning, the i3 REx should have the same power, silence, torque and efficiency as its BEV version i3… But it doesn’t.

Volt’s EV mode doesn’t use ANY engine input at all… Its REx mode can choose between serial or parallel mode depending on speed and efficiency.

You can’t beat parallel mode in efficiency if a constant load is required. Volt is designed to go long distance, BMW i3 REx is NOT…

A well engineered series hybrid would have a better efficiency than parallel, at any speed. The problem is that ICE car makers want electrics to fail because they make too much profit on ICE cars, so they make believe they do their best, but it is sabotage.

“A well engineered series hybrid would have a better efficiency than parallel, at any speed. ”

That is absolutely NONESENSE.

At certain speed, it is true. But at constant loading, aka hwy speed, it is NOT true.

B/c ICE -> Generator -> Motor -> wheel will always results in higher loss than ICE -> Wheel.

The only possible gain is at certain load condition, the ICE would be operated in a more efficient point. But for constant loading, it doesn’t make sense.

Generator and Motor can NOT have zero% loss…

Agreed. And, to use the vernacular, it is ‘settled science’. Why have the complication of the direct lockup clutching if it was of no benefit? In 1904, the new NY City subway system obtained their 600 Volts DC not from motor-generator sets, but from newly designed “Synchronous converters”, which had a direct ohmic tie between the Ac and dc sides of the converter (through brushes). The machine was physically about 1/4 the size of the motor/generator it would have replaced, since on a motor generator, 100% OF THE electricity has to be converted to mechanical energy and then 100% of the mechanical energy has to be converted back to dc, but then it even has to be a bit bigger to compensate for losses in the process. The Synchronous Converter could be such a technology advance because a full 17% of the electricity passed straight through the machine from ac to dc, at least on the six-phase models. Not bad for 110 years ago. Incidentally, decades later the mercury arc rectifier replaced the synchronous converter, not for any improvement in efficiency, but because it was a ‘static solution’ (no moving parts). So my point is I’m agreeing with MMF: for… Read more »

Well that was exactly the big surprise Toyota had with their new Direct Free piston generator. Its yield was so high that it converted gasoline into electricity that could then be fed to the motor for the wheels at a higher rate then what their best standard gasoline ICE was able to transfer directly to the wheels. That is how Toyota engineers realized how inefficient crank and shaft plus gears really are in an ICE power chain.

I’m predicting a less powerful electric motor along with this change.

Just what the new Volt needed, a larger engine and less interior room!

Yeah, that will be all the more success for the Tesla Model III. But right now it is very disappointing.

GM did a nice job engineering the Volt, and I trust they will improve it in the second generation, so I will withhold criticizing these revisions until we get to test them.

1. Do we know whether GM will change the one significant design flaw of the Volt, which is the T-shaped battery pack design, and instead switch to a sub-floor design or other design that enables five-passenger seating?
2. Do we know whether GM is adding any additional body design to the basic Voltec platform, to possibly include a CUV or other body form?
3. Do we know whether GM is planning to remove the ICE and add more energy-dense batteries to produce a BEV from this platform?

I just hope they use the upgraded ignition switch.

Dumb comment…

Volt has been keyless/touch start since day one…

Stay in school, young one. Also – learn how these contraptions work prior to commenting.

Don’t panic!
The Prius went from 1.5 to 1.8L and used less gas.

+1 that is true because the engine was larger but more advanced.
DI, more compression ratio and more Atkinson behavior, ought to increase MPG despite the .1L increase

… and got a ridiculous ev range of 11 miles. No thanks.

in regard to the electric motors, in Volt 1.0 both motors can be a generator or motor already. The smaller one can be a motor in higher speed cruising in EV mode. The larger one can be a generator when you regen. The 1.5L in Volt 2.0 will have a different cam than the regular one so it won’t have the same power (not 84KW / 112HP) and of course no belts hopefully

What does the original belt run? Is that the water pump? The new engine apparently has a belt with a smaller driven pulley so that means higher relative speeds to whatever its driving.

Looks like there is a SECOND metal chain link ‘belt’ for the lockup mode in the new version which I’ve hoped they designed to be beefy enough so as to never stretch.

Sorry I don’t know. I heard on 1 of these articles that the oil pump will be variable displacement.
The pictures for those engines might not be accurate for the Volt’s customized version of it.

I would of liked to see an HCCI part time sparkless ignition gas engine instead of Atkinson cycle. It would be more efficient but GM I guess still hasn’t figured how to control the combustion after 5+ years of development.