Unveiling the new Bolt and Volt (or is it Volt and Bolt?) together doesn’t seem like the smartest of marketing moves – the game-changing new 200-mile electric hatchback is bound to steal some thunder from the upgraded practical plug-in sedan, and that would be a shame, because the improvements to the Volt are worth trumpeting.
The technical upgrades are significant. Electric range has been increased to 50 miles, putting the Volt far ahead of other PHEVs (and lending weight to GM’s claim that it is actually a different class of vehicle – an EREV). Acceleration off the mark is said to be 19 percent faster.
The new two-motor drive unit is up to 12 percent more efficient, and 100 pounds lighter, than before. Battery capacity has been increased to 18.4 kWh, even as the size has been reduced to 192 cells (from 288) and the weight has been reduced by 20 pounds. The new 1.5-liter gas engine is designed to use regular unleaded fuel, and offers estimated efficiency of 41 mpg, making the Volt a pretty economical ride even for those who never figure out how to plug it in.
Many improvements were based on customer suggestions. “According to independent surveyors, Volt owners are the most satisfied in the industry, and they were our compass for developing the next-generation model,” said Alan Batey, President of GM North America. “We believe our engineering prowess combined with data from thousands of customers allows us to deliver the most capable plug-in vehicle in the industry.”
A new bench seat design in the rear allows three to sit comfortably, addressing an often-heard complaint. The exterior styling has been sexed up – the front end looks much the same, but the rear end is now much sleeker and sportier. Gone is the Volt’s distinctive boxy stern.
There are many more improvements, including new regenerative braking and charging capabilities, new safety features…GM has published a detailed list of specs. Perhaps most important, GM says the new Volt delivers a better driving experience, which should win more converts to the electric way.
“The improvements in the efficiency and performance of the 2016 Volt are driven by what owners said they wanted in the next-generation model: more range, better fuel economy and stronger acceleration,” said Volt Chief Engineer Andrew Farah. “We’ve delivered all of that, while also making the Volt more refined and fun to drive.”