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Next Chevrolet Volt will be more powerful, efficient

  • 2016-volt.jpg

     (Chevrolet)

The next Volt is getting a jolt in power.

Chevrolet has revealed some details about the drivetrain that will power the next generation plug-in hybrid, which will be fully unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

Following the same template as the current car, which first went on sale in the 2011 model year, the 2016 Volt will continue to be propelled by a combination of two electric motors and a four-cylinder internal combustion engine, but the parts are all-new.

Chevy says that the electric component of the propulsion system is 100 pounds lighter than the current version, 20 percent more powerful and up to 12 percent more efficient, while using less rare earth metals in its construction. The gasoline-fueled engine connected to it has a larger displacement than the outgoing motor, 1.5L vs 1.4L, and has been fully optimized for use as a generator, rather than a primary drive unit. Unlike the current version, it can run on regular gasoline.

The battery pack has also been significantly updated with fewer individual cells and an increase in storage capacity of about 20 percent. It still features its signature T-shape design, but is 30 pounds lighter than the existing pack, which weighs 435 pounds. Its exact specifications won’t be announced until the car’s official debut, but Chevy indicates that the 2016 Volt will offer increased efficiency and range compared to today’s car, which has an EPA rating of 38 miles per charge.

An improvement in refinement was also a focus of the redesign, in particular, reducing the noise the gasoline engine makes when it is in use. Along with its all-electric mode, the 2016 Volt will feature four hybrid drive modes during extended range operation (after the battery has been depleted) that combined the operation of the electric motors and internal combustion engine in a variety of ways that have not yet been detailed.

Production of the electric drive unit will move from Mexico to Michigan, where the battery pack is assembled, and the internal combustion engine will follow it there in 2017.

Chevy originally predicted sales of up to 60,000 Volts per year, but has only sold about 70,000 total since production began. Pricing for the new car was not revealed, but GM executives have previously indicated their interest in reducing its $35,170 price by as much as $10,000.