SAE International Publishes Exclusive Details On 2016 Chevrolet Volt



Comparison of the 1.4-L Gen-1 Volt engine on left with 2016 Gen-2 1.5-L on right. Note absence of fat orange 400-A cables on the new unit, due to integration of TPIM into drive unit. Photo Credit: Lindsay Brooke


Electro-mechanical heart of the Gen-2 Volt powertrain is the all-new Voltec electric transaxle, shown here in sectioned view with direct-mounted TPIM. Note twin electric machines. Photo Credit: Lindsay Brooke

SAE International recently presented an in-depth article related to the 2016 Chevrolet Volt.

The SAE’s Volt article is by far the most informative we’ve seen thus far, so be sure to check it out in its entirety here.

Rather than rehashing the expertly written SAE article, we’ll focus here on only one aspect of the discussion:

“Major changes to the car’s battery, Voltec electric drive system, and gasoline-engine generator—all are essentially new—are expected to increase its overall driving range and energy use by up to 12% compared with the current Volt, he said. The 2015 Volt’s driving range is rated at 380 mi (611 km) after depleting both the 16-kW·h battery and 9.3-gal (32-L) gasoline tank.”

*Note: Text should probably be altered as follows:

“are expected to increase its overall driving range and [decrease] energy use by up to 12% compared with the current Volt,”

Admittedly, we can assume nothing from this 12% figure.  It could simply be that the new 2016 Volt gets a bigger gas tank to go more miles, but if we’re right in saying that the text should be altered to state “decrease energy use by up to 12%” then we do know for sure that the next-gen Volt will be more efficient.

What do you make of this 12% statement, which actually comes from Larry Nitz, General Motors’ Executive Director of Transmission and Electrification?

*Check out high-resolution images of next-gen Volt components on the SAE’s site here.


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25 Comments on "SAE International Publishes Exclusive Details On 2016 Chevrolet Volt"

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I think the big news here is the 16 kWh number for the battery, which would be a “useable” number instead of the 11 or so presently.

I see the 16kWh number in the text, but I missed where it says that 16kWh is usable. That would be quite a jolt for the Volt… I’ll see myself out…

Agree, the article references the current generation Volt’s 16kWh battery, not a future usable capacity.

They should have said the 2015 uses a 17.1 kWh battery, not 16….

Proud of GM’s progress. Except they loose huge points for not offering 6.6kW charging. At least offer it as an option!

So true, in this day and age still running 3.3kW charging has me scratching my head.

They said they have data that shows 60% are charging at L1 (120v). Guessed they weighed the pros and cons of all the things they could do in Gen II for cost and benefit and it didn’t float high enough. Certainly on the list but just not high enough. Do this everyday at work for release planning.

That 60% might have a good amount of people that do not consider it a good use of time to spend ours at a public charger. But would consider it with faster charging speeds. Last major trip we took gave us 8 Miles during a 45 minute Lunch stop. That would have been 16 miles on 6.6KW

3.3 charging may be fine at home but it means fewer cars can share the public charging spots. A solution would be to limit the charging time in public spots.

Umm… this is over a month old.

There has been a lot of news the last 3 weeks or so, it got pushed back/lost in the scheduling due to its “non-breaking” status.

did you read this article a month ago? if not, then it’s news to you. you can’t buy the thing today anyway.

I think to some extent this explains the fall off in Volt sales, people who will buy a Volt are simply waiting for the improved version.
This will happen more often with ev’s rather traditional ice or even hybrids since this is where real progress is being made.

I concur I want to get a Volt to replace my Leaf but I am waiting for “Better” and cheaper.

Perfect example of the Osbourne effect.

I’m waiting for the second generation Chevy Volt also. This is American Automobile Engineering at its best. I don’t care for that Chrome grill in the front though. I hope that comes in black.

At first blush it seems pretty good.

I truly hope they have really extensively tested the new Voltec unit by shaking it pretty good, and for a long time. The fact that they are EXPECTING 6 times the 2011-15’s vibration is at least semi-encouraging in that they are at least looking for issues the could become major problems if they are not addressed.

If that Morse drive is reliable (admittedly, the chain looks pretty beefy but its hard to judge scale of a photo without having a specification sheet- I was always cringing at that wimpy looking gearbox on the end of the Tesla S exposed at the Toronto ‘Gallery’), and its running at the low-speed end of the drive train so one would think wear would be pretty low in comparison to the Tesla Screamer.

At first blush, it looks like they have most of their Ducks in a Row.

Can’t wait for more info. Thanks for the article.

My current plan is to buy the Volt or Outlander PHEV or Audi etron next year.

I haven’t been able to understand if Volt 2016 is cheaper to make AND better overall… or are they cutting corners and just making it cheap?

I am unfortunately most definitely not a car guy.

As far as I can tell, GM has been able to bring the cost down due to technological advances and engineering improvements as well as manufacturing improvements. Is this right?

That’s the key question…

There is no doubt the main Volt 2 objective is cost reduction, which is necessary for it to become a mainstream vehicle. The fact that GM invested so much in a complete redesign after less than 60k units shows their intent to make it a profitable high volume product.

On paper the new design looks good – elimination/simplification of components to reduce defect opportunities. But did GM follow traditional “old GM” practices and cost reduce until they went over the edge of the reliability cliff?

I tend to believe Volt 2 drive will be reliable given the current state of drivetrain engineering and testing methods, even with the chain drive. If fact, I’d be more concerned about the usual cost reduction suspects, like trim falling off and inadequate components (fortunately it doesn’t have an ignition switch!).

Regardless, anyone worried about such things should take the age old advice about never buying a car in its first production year. Buy a Volt 1 now or wait until 2017.

GM appears to be treating the Volt as a “halo car”: their example to the rest of the industry of their Best Effort.

Just as the Corvette represents GM’s best and brightest in the sports car segment (and is a well-received product in that regard), I expect the Volt to do the same in the commuter/economy car segment. And even though the ‘Vette is relatively inexpensive, it’s certainly not a shoddy product.

It’s all up to the CEO – keep your eye on the ball (product) or firmly fastened to the spreadsheets/quarterly reports.

Given that Mary is Not a professional bean-counter, many have Very high hopes for this generation of GM vehicles.

I would not call the Volt a “commuter/economy car.” It is a “premium small car” similar to a BMW 3-Series, only better.


I’m not an “engineering guy” either, but I have built two airplanes and grew up with a brainy father that was an engineering wizard. And as a two Volts owned so far (a 2012 and my 2015 that I special ordered the second day GM was accepting orders) when I heard that the new Generation Two Volt would be offered at a “cheaper price” I too was concerned that GM would be cutting and trimming to save money while not necessarily improving and advancing the car. I was very skeptical however as I follow the news about the 2016 Volt, I’m back on track with the idea that GM is about to hit another home-run out of the ball park (again) with Generation Two. In fact, I have already purchased my airline tickets and made a reservation at a hotel in Detroit so I can see for myself, the 2016 Volt when they pull the sheet off of it at the North American International Auto Show in January. It’s either a leap-of-faith for me, or I’m an idiot for blowing a few grand, just to go to a car unveiling in January in Detroit, but hey, I live in Texas… Read more »

Glad to see most of the comments here are “Volt Positive”.

I believe the 12% increase in efficiency results from a rumoured change from a serial to parallel hybrid drive. I’m guessing the 12% will come from bypassing the generator and traction motor, and driving the wheels directly from the ICE. If both MGs are 94% efficient, the improvement will be 12%