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2016 Chevy Volt – 2nd Generation Voltec Drivetrain

Hey all, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here as there hasn’t been a ton of Volt news, but it looks like we are in for a big treat with the 2016 Chevrolet Volt.  Awesome video below demonstrating some of the key changes that we can expect from the drivetrain of the Volt.  View it first and I’ll have some color commentary below that should get you very excited.  There is some serious engineering happening here which is far more advanced than some other companies out there that seems to grab more headlines.

Some key things that you will see in the video as well as my color commentary.

1.) Battery pack improvements

-Energy storage capacity increased by 20% while decreasing the number of cells from 288 to 192 (96 fewer cells / parts PER battery!) That means 1/3 fewer cells, although it probably means that each cell is slightly bigger.

-Battery pack weight reduced by 30 lbs.  This is big.  +20% capacity with less weight.  This means significant cost savings, not to mention 96 fewer cells / parts but just less stuff to carry around.  These changes add up.

-Not clear yet if the maximum power output of the pack will increase (more acceleration) but I think that is a reasonable likelihood.

2.)  Drivetrain improvements

-The whole drive train now weighs 100 lbs less.   This is a big weight drop.  Likely because of simplification to the gearing, having dedicated motors, as well as dropping the entire AC inverter and associated cooling needed.  All the voltage conversions (DC/DC) as needed and power electronics can now all be built into the same assembly.

-More driving modes, e.g. you can engage both gas/electric for more power off the line.  Not clear how this will be played out, but hope to hear about it soon!

-These optimizations are supposed to increase overall efficiency by 5-12%.  This is big, the equivalent of putting an extra 40lbs of battery into the car.  But instead they took out 100 lbs out of the drivetrain.

-1.5 liter range-extender v.s 1.4 liter range extender, it now runs on regular v.s. premium gas (yay!) but also likely to run quieter and at increased efficiency when driving in gas powered mode.

What this means

I’m going to read between the lines here.  But here’s the key thing.

1.)  The Volt will cost significantly less to make than before.  (Profitability anyone?)  Think that there is in just the drivetrain, 130 lbs less STUFF in the car.  Not to mention 96 fewer battery cells.  This compared to over 7000 cells in a Tesla Model S.  Not apples to apples as the Model S cells are smaller, but you’ve got to think that reducing the number of parts in your battery by 1/3 is going to help a lot with the cost.  I’m very interested to see what this all means at the end of the day in terms of battery cost competitiveness.

2.)  The Volt will weigh less, or have more usable weight to be more comfortable.  I think they will reinvest the weight savings into a bigger car.  Something a big more comfortable.  The say the cells have been lowered so will that 5th seat appear in the Volt?  Maybe.  I think this has been a big ask although it looks like the battery still is thick through the tunnel – so not sure it will happen.  Maybe a small child size seat.

3.)  I think the Volt drivetrain will be even quieter than before.  I’m driving the ELR with all the insulation and noise cancelling goodness but will the Volt be able to do the same without all the expensive materials?  I think it will get a lot better than before.

4.)  More space under the hood – it was tight before, there should be a lot fewer parts out there now.

5.)  A very compelling and competitive offering that will make people think twice about whether its really worth it to go all electric with the Leaf.  Previously this was the case because the Leaf was just so much less expensive.  If the Volt is able to make up a lot of that ground, things could really start to get interesting.

4 Responses to “2016 Chevy Volt – 2nd Generation Voltec Drivetrain”

  1. Jeff N says:

    Hey Patrick! Happy birthday, your original Volt is 4 years old as of yesterday. My car achieved “status 3800″ 4 years ago today.

    I see that GM will show off the 2016 ELR at the LA Auto Show and will have some kind of 2016 Volt private preview event for Twitter celebrity Volt owners there on Nov. 19. I assume the 2016 ELR will have the new 2016 Volt powertrain. Any idea if GM will dribble out any new 2016 Voltec information then?

    I know the big Volt reveal will be at the Detroit Auto Show in January. I’m attending an SAE hybrid and EV technology seminar in LA in February where GM will preview some of the 5 technical papers on the 2016 Volt that will be presented at the April 2015 SAE World Congress in Detroit.

    • PatrickZWang says:

      Hey Jeff,

      Good to hear from you again! I will be going to the LA Auto show and the after event, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

      Not sure what’s going to be new with the ELR, can’t imagine it has anything other than the Volt 2.0 powertrain. but excited to see what will happen with it. (Maybe Supercruise?)

      Patrick

  2. nick martina says:

    i must admit i know nothing about nothing but the possibility of adding a simple transmission would allow the electric motor to run at a slower revolution when at higher speeds therefore using its high low end torque and less electricity ? thanks….

  3. nick martina says:

    gm blowing it by not producing a small pickup and mini mini van using the volt drivetrain which sits up higher therefore allowing for a larger battery pack, thinking of a little bigger than than a mazda 5 or the original dodge minivan??

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