External Form Factor Of 2016 Chevy Volt Battery Unchanged Compared To Current Volt


First Gen Chevy Volt Battery Pack

First Generation Chevy Volt Battery Pack

2016 Chevy Volt Cutaway

2016 Chevy Volt Cutaway

On the inside, it’s mostly all-new, but externally there’s no difference between the next-generation 2016 Chevy Volt’s battery pack and the current first-generation Volt battery.

That’s the official word from General Motors.

Confirmation of this comes from Bill Wallace, General Motor’s director of battery systems, who states that although the Gen 2 pack is a clean-sheet design, it maintains the external form factor of its predecessor.

Green Car Congress reports the following based on a discussion with Wallace:

“…there are only 9 carry-over products in the new battery. The cell is still a prismatic pouch, but redesigned. The engineers went to a 3P design instead of a 2P, allowing them to increase individual capacity in cells by slightly more than 50%. There are mechanical changes as well, for a more efficient package.”

Wallace commented on Gen 2 Volt battery chemistry too:

“We are still NMC and LMO. We changed the ratio a little bit—a little more NMC and a little less LMO. NMC is a high surface area modified product—this is a brand new class of NMC. We’ve changed things like binder materials, electrocoat and iconic conductivity, and we were also able to drive our electrode count down and our coating weights up. That helps us get more energy. We were able to improve volumetic energy density 20% at a cell level”.

“It’s not a radical change in cell chemistry, but it is absolutely the most modern NMC/LMO material. We also made some changes on the graphite side to improve performance and life.”

So, lots of changes within, but visually the pack looks the same from the outside.

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64 Comments on "External Form Factor Of 2016 Chevy Volt Battery Unchanged Compared To Current Volt"

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So 4 seat then?


Either that, or the person in the middle has VERY short legs – Aka, an infant or small child.

Or you like sitting with your knees in your chest…

Or the person in the middle straddles the hump. I did that for years in the back of the parent’s station wagon.

FWIW, the 2013-5 Leaf also has a middle hump. The worst single change from the 2011/2. Makes the 5+dog travel a bit challenging, esp. for the poor dog 😉

Hump in the back seat of a car? I’m not sure it is a good idea… Might get caught.

Heh. Even if someone could sit in the middle, they wouldn’t have a seat belt.

My 2015 LEAF does have a small hump in the floor. It’s pretty small though — it wouldn’t put your knees into your chest like the Volt’s hump.

Just a place for a child seat perhaps with a “Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) Restraint” hardware?

They could have an option that includes a built-in child seat in the middle. It’s the absolute safest place for a child in the car, so it can be sold as a class leading safety feature!

That would work well in China where you’re only supposed to have one child anyway. Guess we’ll see how well that feature works out here!

Face it, this is a 4 passenger car.

I don’t think anyone here realistically thinks they can load 3 American-sized adults into the back seat regularly. I have done it a few times in my LEAF, but it wasn’t comfortable for the passengers.

But it’s nice to know, in a pinch, that you can transport 5 adults once in a while, or two adults and 3 kids regularly.

With the hump in the middle, you’re stuck with 4 passengers, always, no exceptions. That’s not ideal for a mass market vehicle.

Even Toyota Camry has a large hump in the middle of the rear seats which makes the middle person very uncomfortable…

If you want to fit 3 American adults in the 2nd row, get a Suburban or a Minivan.

After extensive and careful image analysis I conclude that the new pack will be 80% the height of the old pack….. and that GM are going to be using slightly different sized orange connectors! hooray, I am sure everyone was on the edge of their seat over the orange connector thing, I think they are going to be a little smaller.

Does 20% off the top mean you can have a bench seat, not sure, I think it probably does but you will still have a lump between your legs.

BTW the Chevy Cruze appears to have a lump in front of the 5th seat, admittedly it is probably smaller than it would be in the volt but it is still there and I suspect that the passenger would still put their feet either side of it rather than on top so the comfort level would probably be the same for an adult.

That is a major drawback for families. Only this will slash 20% of the potential market. A big mistake from the start.

Maybe it will be a 5-seater with the 5th seat being a saddle over the battery pack (stirrups an extra cost option – yee-haw).

I don’t understand why people think means a hump complete eliminates the possibility of a 5th seat. It may be less likely but people have been sitting in back seats that straddle the hump for many decades.

Yeah, I’m thinking something suitable to install a child seat, but not something someone would want to sit in for more than 5 minutes at a time.

The Volt’s current hump is something between an old rear drive tunnel, and the Holland Tunnel.


They could surprise us with a 6 seater (2+2+2) with the last row being rear facing like the Tesla jumpseats.

No . . . you’d need a much bigger car than that and we’ve seen the camouflaged car . . . it is not that big.

or you could retro fit the seats and just drive around with the boot open. Then it’ll be the first 2+2+2 convertible

Or you can get into a minor rear end collision and instantly kill your two rear passengers.

I am fairly certain that if you were driving around with the boot open and 2 retro fitted seats in the back you would be given enough room not to have to worry about being rear ended.

Anyway, the only time I need the fifth seat is if the mother in law comes to stay so safety is not really that much of an issue but on second thought I will need room for her bags and if it rains I don’t want to get the inside of the car wet so I guess I’ll just go back to the original plan…. Does anyone know where I can get a roof box cheap?

I swear the new one is smaller in all directions except the bottom mounting where it bolts to the car. Just look at the front connector arrangement. If the connectors are all the same size, they are arranged to get at least 2″ shorter snout on the pack.

I’m thinking by ‘form factor’ he is speaking to the mount not the physical size beyond that.

It’s like a pack for a Dewalt 18v. The lithium pack is way smaller (like half) and lighter weight (like 1/4), but, they work in all 18v tools like before.

This bodes well for a replacement pack being the newest technology with no install problems.

With a ‘looks like’ 2″ shorter pack, a small jump-seat between the two adult rear seats is possible.

The “T” design may be OK for PHEVs, but GM had better be working on a Tesla-like skateboard with a big flat battery. That seems to be the best way of distributing the battery for best handling (low center of gravity), passenger space (passengers above it), and trunk space (trunk space not effected at all).

It is really amazing how many things Tesla go right with the Model S. There are a few things they didn’t apparently get right (that motor wear issue, the battery shielding, phantom drain, etc.) but overall they got FAR MORE very much right than they got wrong. (Aerodynamics, supercharger system, aesthetics, battery placement, battery swap ability, telematics, etc.)

I’d rather have 192 cells than 8000+. The cells for Tesla are totally different than the cells for Volt making a flat skateboard package easier to do.

Voltec originally had a skateboard design that GM left on the drawing board.

I also like that GM has not had a catastrophic real-world battery penetration like Tesla.

I like the Volt as much as anyone here, but we await the driving-over-the-giant-trailer-hitch–speared-into-the-center-of-the-tee test in their case.
but if it floats your boat to use that as a safety concern..

I dunno . . . . more cells means you can spread the charging and discharging around more cells.

The number of cells doesn’t really matter; it is the specific energy that counts. Actually the number of transistors on a chip has been increasing ever since the beginning and that is rather seen as an advantage. Perhaps it would be even better to have 100000 micro cells instead of 8000. Reliability doesn’t seem to be more of an issue on the Model S then on the Volt or the Leaf, all at the contrary.

I asked that question from GM years ago. The answer I got at the time was that it would be too sensitive for side impact. It would become hugely expensive to repair.

That stupid reasoning. Why would you negatively affect the usability of 100% of your cars merely to lower the repair cost for the few percent that get into side impact collisions? Why are they so concerned with repair cost anyway?

Tesla said that their battery pack makes the car much stronger in side impact, and that makes a lot of sense.

Will the new pack be used to replace old packs in 2011-2015 Volts when they wear out?

Exactly the question I was about to ask.

you read my mind.

The connectors look completely different and the attachment bolt holes are not the same either.

Also the battery volt/amp configuration is different so there could be controller, motor and charger issues, requiring reprogramming as a minimum.

So probably not.

I knew someone was desperate to know about the little orange connectors, I think they are going to be smaller so no probably not backward compatible. There are also more connectors in the new design than the old.

Is it possible they can rearrange the pack location (height..ect) to make it a five seat car? My guess is No but I thought (for some reason) GM was listening to people about the Volt being only a four seat and more people would like the space inside back to a traditional 5 seat sedan style. Hmm…

This is big news to me about the chemistry.

I was under the impression that the Volt battery was LMO chemistry.

GM is saying it’s LMO/NMC.
That’s interesting in my book.
I’m surprised no one else commented on it.

Did I miss something or is this common knowledge?

That the Volt battery used NMC technology was revealed when GM announced it had licensed the Argonne NMC technology. That was late 2012? Early 2013? Can’t remember exactly but in that time frame somewhere.

Just because they licensed it doesn’t mean they said they were using it in their battery.

Do you have a link?

all the LMO used in EVs/PHEVs are blended with some nickel containing cathode (NCA or NMC)
increasing the surface area of the NMC should improve its beneficial scavaging effect for the LMO. So hopefully a wider SOC range will be allowed. (vice versa – The LMO also provides a benefical scavaging effect for NCA)

Just another interesting thing on the battery.

GM kept the same cooling configuration where the cooling tubes are in between the cells just like on Gen 1. I’m assuming the repeater frame set up is the same also.

The Spark battery has the cooling tubes underneath the battery in the tray.

We had speculated that they might switch to the Spark cooling config, but they have not.

They switched to the Volt’s cooling fin model when they started using the LG Chem cells. Probably horizontally stacked rather than vertically stacked but same basic layout.

Good input DonC

First the EV-1, then Volt gen 1, and now Volt gen 2. GM engineering keeps coming back to the T-pack architecture. They must see some compelling engineering/structural/safety/handling benefits to it to continue with it despite the interior passenger compartment compromises that GM marketing/human interface departments (as well as many customers) are clamoring for.

They did experiment with a different architecture and cooling system for the Spark. I thought that might be where they would go for the Volt, but evidently declined not.

When I look at the both the crash test results and photos of real-world collisions that the Volt has taken over the years, I think I get it. The battery is iron-clad solidly protected. Also, having that central mass right at the vehicle core, which has to help handling/stability.

This was an engineering call. GM engineering has hit home run after home run on the Volt. Though I don’t entirely understand the details, I trust GM Engineering’s judgment on this one, too. No beef here.

oops – typo fix – I meant “…that GM marketing/human interface departments (as well as many customers) are clamoring TO ELIMINATE”

I agree with GM that this is the best placement for the battery, considering the class of compact car. It allows the car to sit lower to the ground like a sports car. The Leaf is roughly the same length as the Volt but it sits a lot higher off the ground as a result of the battery pack. So does the i3. But then take some of Ford’s plug-ins and they lose a lot of cargo area. So the Volt really makes the best use of the battery shape.

….and it helps with IMPACT resistance as it keeps the pack out of harms way.

It’s mostly about repair cost in the event of a side impact event.

Yeah on the Volt gen 3 they should come up with a full cabin occupation of the battery pack since it will be a driverless car there is no need for passenger’s seats and no driver seat as well!

FYI the article has the configuration wrong. The battery pack in the first Volt had 288 cells in a 3P 96S configuration. The new pack is 196 cells in a 2P 96S configuration. Same as the Spark’s. The article meant to say that the engineers moved from a 3P to a 2P configuration.

Oops. 192 cells not 196.

good catch DonC.

The Geen car congress article has it wrong also but I concur on your math.

At least it doesn’t have that orange hump sticking up so much. Is that enough to allow the 5th seat?

This article:http://insideevs.com/next-gen-2016-chevy-volt-official-voltec-details-released/
says its smaller.
“The new Volt battery back is actually slightly smaller (and lighter) than the existing one”. Perhaps a typo.

Something’s not adding up here. The normally reliable WOT at GM-Volt says that the pack is smaller in length, width and height.

I wonder if this all boils down to a misuse of the term “form factor” by Green Car Congress, which as I understand it refers to dimensions. Maybe they just mean “form.”

Agreed. It may not mean the dimensions are the same, just the form, as in the T- shape. The photos clearly show that most of the parts are new. Perhaps there will be a 5th seat and more legroom 🙂

This is interesting, because this is a real life battery update (and not another breakthrough from a lab that wont be commercialize for years).

But the first volt generation was commercialize in 2011. In 2016, we talk about a 20% increase, which isn’t that much after five years. We hears often the rule of 10% increase per year, and we are far from that. I hope at least that the new battery pack will be much cheaper.

20% increase in… capacity? Well, there is also the issue of cost. If you get a 20% increase in cost, and price fell by, say, 40%, the net improvement is something like 60%, no? GM didn’t mention the price improvement.

Yes, based on the language used, it is not clear that the main thrust of this article is correct. Saying the Volt has the same form factor is not the same as saying it is the same volume or height. GM used to show the Volt battery next to the EV1 battery. Both were the same form factor but they were significantly different sizes. I have read elsewhere that the center of gravity is 10 MM lower which is not much but that could allow enough dimensional changes in portions of the pack to accommodate a middle seat and with a center hump per most RWD cars ever produced.

Exactly – just said what I was about to say. “External Form Factor’ is anybody’s guess as to what it exactly means. I’d go as far as saying it means the Volt battery will not be shaped like the Spark battery.