Detailed Look At How Voltec Is Employed In 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

APR 30 2016 BY MARK KANE 41

The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, which uses technology from the Chevrolet Volt, will offer a General Motors-estimated 48 mpg city, 45 mpg highway – and 47 mpg combined, unsurpassed in the segment.

The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is a non-plug-in, so it normally would not catch our gaze – but it utilizes second-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt Voltec powetrain to achive its 46 mpg fuel economy…so it’s worth a look.

Green Car Congress recently released a detailed description of the Malibu Hybrid powertrain, and a comparison to the Volt, based on a SAE “Development of Hybrid-Electric Propulsion System for 2016 Chevrolet Malibu” article.

A common system in both cars is the transmission architecture, with two electric motors and changes to optimizations in a different application. (In case of Malibu Hybrid, there are also changes in the type of rotor of one of the motor) 

The new Chevy Malibu uses larger 1.8L engine and smaller battery from Hitachi (1.5 kWh).

“Voltec drive unit. The drive unit is a transaxle configuration comprising transmission gearing and clutches; hydraulics; electric machines; and integrated power electronics. The basic layout is an on-axis design which is similar to GM’s 6T40/45 family of small-car front-wheel drive automatic transmissions. The center distance and vertical drop between the engine and output axes were designed to be common; this design approach enables the use of a common chain transfer design and final drive gearing, which provided a wide range of final drive sprocket and planetary gear sets allowing an effective final drive ranging from 2.64 to 3.50.

The transaxle includes two electric machines coaxial with the input shaft as well as an integrated Power Inverter Module which connects via busbars to the motors. The Power Inverter Module and motor stators are common between the EREV (Volt) and HEV (Malibu) versions. However, the transaxles were designed with unique rotors specific to the application. The stators utilize a bar winding design, while the rotors are two barrier interior permanent magnet designs using NdFeB magnets.”

Drive Unit Specifications Comparing Volt EREV and Malibu HEV applications
Volt EREVMalibu HEV
Gear ratio, EV modeA: 2.87
B: 3.077
Modes, engine on3 (Low, Fixed Ratio, High)
Modes, engine off2 (1 Motor EV, 2 Motor EV)1 (1 Motor EV)
Final drive arrangementChain transfer and planetary gear reduction
Planetary gearsets2
Rotating clutches1 plate clutch
Brakes1 plate clutch, 1 OWC1 plate clutch
Motor A typeDistributed bar wound, Ferrite magnetDistributed bar wound, NdFeB magnet
Motor A peak power48 kW55 kW
Motor B typeDistributed bar wound, NdFeB magnet
Motor B peak torque / power280 N·m / 87 kW306 N·m / 76 kW
Effective final drive ratio2.64
Power electronicsintegrated
Pumps1 electric motor driven
Total system mass119 kg116 kg

source: Green Car Congress

Categories: Chevrolet

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41 Comments on "Detailed Look At How Voltec Is Employed In 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid"

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So why doesn’t GM put in a slightly larger battery and a plug to get the same MPG as the Volt?

Seems like a no-brainer to me!

My thoughts exactly…..

Actually.. I believe the Malibu gets better MPG than the Volt. That’s sort of the whole point of the article. The drivetrain in the Malibu has been tweaked to be more efficient when running on gas, where the the Volt was designed to be more efficient on EV power.

Exactly. The Malibu is only about 90lbs lighter than the Volt. The fuel economy is really good. I wonder how it will work out with real world buyers?

This is a response to Ford Fusion hybrid and Camry hybrid without reducing Volt sales.

So congratulations GM, you have put your class-leading Voltec tech into a nice midsize car.

Unfortunately the idiot management in charge decided to make this car a straight hybrid which is a technology that has been thoroughly eclipsed by plug-in technology.

If they had bothered to give it the Volt battery pack they would have had a real winner here in the PHEV field where the Fusion Energi does very well.

Unfortunately GM management is SQUANDERING there technological lead here by not putting true Voltec PHEV into midsize and SUV where they could dominate.

I’ve thought the same too. It’s a no brainer, but I have a feeling that GM management is saving Federal EV tax credits for the Bolt EV. Hence the foot dragging in dropping this awesome power train along with a 16kwh minimum battery into other body styles.

Goes to show how not to design incentive schemes. What a true mess!

Interesting view point.

I think you nailed it bud — dilute the cost of the power train but retain the government credits….


I think everyone agrees.. But I suspect they are worried about having too many plug-in products because they’ll compete with the Volt. I think if the Volt had a lot more sales, they’d probably diversify the PHEV line more.

And that thinking is exactly why they don’t sell more plug-ins.

Price it $5k more than the Volt and let the market decide what is better. Keep the drivetrain identical and save money on the components.

Malibu plug-in would drive a stake in the heart of the Fusion PHEV which has enjoyed absolutely no competition for 4 years now.

I think GM is more concerned with such a PHEV competing with ICE margins. They aren’t worried about losing a Volt sale. Fleeting Volts isn’t something they have an issue with, either.

That opinion is baseless in my opinion.
Volt has over 70% in conquest sales. That means GM only lost about 30% of its ICE sales while gaining 70% of conquest sales.

If Malibu PHEV can do the same, then GM still gains overall unless it loses money on the Malibu PHEV.

Since Malibu isn’t the class leader in anything, making it a PHEV might actually gain GM market shares…

If the Malibu was a 30 mile AER PHEV with the gas genset going on if I floored the accelerator, I would still buy it instead of the Volt because it is roomier. I like my Volt but I hate the tiny rear seat.

I suspect that the Malibu would lose an unacceptable amount of interior and/or trunk space if GM tried to squeeze in a larger battery pack so it could be a PHEV like the Volt. Space and cost for both ICE and EV components will remain a problem for PHEV’s.

I’ll play devil’s advocate here.

The Volt uses a uniquely-engineered platform variation to accommodate the 18.4 kWh battery pack. With the Malibu, GM strives to integrate, as an option to the regular ICE Malibu, the Voltec drive train and as much battery, etc. as will work with the regular Malibu platform. Note the fitted in a simplified air-cooled battery TMS and power electronics cooling. The engine cooling and cabin AC system can be the same in both the ICE and hybrid versions. If it had a larger EREV type battery/power electronics, the battery would require the special interfaces with the AC system and the power electronics would need its own glycol-based cooling, similar to the Volt.

The Malibu Hybrid, a Voltec with a KISS philosophy. I’m not grousing at GM for going that way. It is a great demonstration of how much can what can be done to strong-hybridize a conventional product with already-available hardware.

Regarding ICE “evolution” this sketch show a EGHR or exhaust gas heat recovery.
Is this the first time we see that in a mass produced ICE car?
And how much improvement does it make on mpg?

In the last EcoCar competition, fifteen different universities fit battery packs up to 19 kWh in the Malibu… Including at least one who actually expanded the trunk space over the stock Malibu hybrid.

Well said HVACman – the idea doesn’t appeal to me, but there are many that just don’t want to (perhaps, can’t) plug in, and an electric turbocharger goes a Long way toward making a tiny 4-cyl fossil attractive in a mid-sized package and minimizes costs to the buyer.

46mpg is an otherwise effortless mid-size is pretty good IMO.

What about the CT6 PHEV?

The Cadillac CT6 PHEV is a different vehcile. It has a unique RWD version of the Voltec powertrain. The body is also longer, so the battery pack fits behind the rear seat.

Exactly right!
Another question is why did GM put their first 200 mile EV architecture in an “econobox”?
Bolt (econobox) vs Model 3 (C series)?
No contest

I agree. the stupidity hurts my brain. Voltec in a CUV = massive sales.

Around here, we see non-plugin cars as passé, but to the general public, even plain hybrids may be vaguely scary and newfangled.

46 MPG is a good thing.

GM seems to really want to hold on to as many tax credits as they can for now – Maybe they think they’ll have an advantage when Tesla’s run out.
Personally, I think they are blowing their advantage now by not moving their full Voltec power train into larger vehicles like the Malibu ASAP.

Lol. Just posted the same thing above.

Non plug ins will still be needed for a while since about half of US households don’t have a parking place that have available power outlets, and the public infastructure sucks. The best network is designed for longer travel between cities not daily driving commutes. Some posters hate anything that is not a BEV but aren’t doing anything to addressss the issue of lack of available daily charging.

But why forget all of those who can daily charge.
It goes both way.
Just offer one and let people have what they need.

In the case of GM they have offered plug ins as well and will be the first to reach 100k plug in sales in the US. And, they are expanding.

BEV – SparkEV, Bolt

Would I like more? Sure. Would increasing the size of the battery in this Malibu be worth having an Fusion Energi sized trunk — not so sure. I think a stronger case could be made for the Equinox or Traverse first.

Their previous HEV in this segment needed work and it is good they improved it.

I get that.
But, what I meant was why is GM not offering the Voltec option on all or almost their model.
Malibu with base hybrid and with according pricing option to have more kwh without any space trunk penalty and if possible with much more battery and less storage space if it’s the only way to go.

Agree that would be even better.

You’ll know they’re serious when it’s in a Chevrolet Colorado pickup. Well, to the extent that they’re ever serious about any truck that weights less than 5000 lbs.

For the same reason Toyota hasn’t done it in their Tundra’s: these hybrid systems can’t handle the job. GM developed the more heavy duty two-mode design and implemented it for trucks and large SUV’s years ago and the public spoke: poor sales.

As I keep repeatedly saying, THAT extra-heavy=duty system (2 HD motors, and planetary gearboxes) SHOULD be dusted off the shelf and sold in Large Trucks and Large SUV’s by putting a 30 or 60 kwh battery in along side a j1772 jack, and 16 or 32 amp charger.

46mpg for a 1.8L engine is impressive. Surpassed only the Prius.

46MPG in a car the size of the Malibu is very, very impressive.

I find it interesting that the APM in the Malibu is air-cooled, but I thought it was otherwise in the Volt…IF so, is it smaller in the malibu?

As far as not offering a plug-in, I don’t know either, – but if Ford Energi sales greatly improve, or the FCA Pacifica starts selling like hot cakes, then GM will be forced to do a ‘Me Too!’.

IN any event, selling the contraption in the Malibu greatly reduces the per unit cost for the VOlt, so I’m glad they did it.

Accord Hybrid is superior to the Malibu hybrid. Better total power, better EV mode selection, and option to go Plug in.

Why isn’t a plug even an option? I mean even if discounting the entire environmental debate around fossil fuels, a kWh is simply cheaper to many than the equivalent in gas.

Why not let those people use the cheapest fuel source? Is anyone home at GM?