Friday, October 31, 2014

Cadillac Convertible Concept Shown at Dealer Meeting

The Cadillac ATS still feels like a new production car, but the compact, sporty sedan and coupe have done wonders for Cadillac, pushing the brand into the entry-luxe market that’s been dominated by the C class Mercedes and 3 series BMW since time immemorial the 1980s. Now, it seems like Cadillac is going to square off against sporty convertibles from Lexus and Audi, as well- with an all-new Cadillac convertible concept that was reportedly shown to dealers earlier this week, along with a new sedan positioned below the ATS, a compact crossover, a large crossover with third-row seats, and a new “halo model” positioned above the upcoming CT6 full-size sedan.
The new convertible is believed to be based on GM’s “Alpha” platform, which serves as the basis for the Cadillac ATS and larger CTS cars- but the convertible will likely share more hardware with the next-generation Chevy Camaro than either of those cars. If for no other reason than the Camaro will definitely be getting convertible option, so can probably expect the hard points, windshield surround, doors, and other bits to be mechanically (if not visually) identical across both cars.
It’s not clear if the upcoming convertible will look more like the ATS or CTS- or if it will look like either of them, at all. One rendering of a new Cadillac convertible can be seen, above, and another- by Theo Chin for Chris Doane Automotive- is included, below.
You can let us know what you think of the Caddymarao convertible, and the images, in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Cadillac Convertible Rendering | Doane Automotive

Sources | ImagesCar FanaticsMotorAthority, and Chris Doane Automotive, via GTSpirit.

2016 Acura NSX Spotted by Nürburgring, Not on Fire

2016 Acura NSX Spotted Testing
With turbos, engines, and electric motors all over, the successor to the original Honda (nee Acura) NSX super car has been highly anticipated since the 1990s. The last time Honda took a prototype of its upcoming NSX hybrid out to Germany’s storied Nürburgring, however, the sleek, low-slung exotic promptly burned to the ground in a fire caused by an exploding experimental battery.
This time, there was no such drama. Now in the final stages of testing, latest prototypes have been seen sporting a new lower front grille and new air vents in the bonnet. It seems aggressive and purposeful, and all indications are that the new car is nearly ready for prime time.
That’s a good thing, because Honda is expected to unveil the 2016 Acura NSX at January’s Detroit Auto Show. That’s the same show that saw the unveiling of the latest NSX “concept” back in 2012, and also the nearest “major” auto show to the Ohio facility where the NSX will be built, so it’ll be a fitting place for the production car’s debut.
You can see a few more “spy shots” of the model year 2016 Honda / Acura NSX hybrid, below, and head on over to AutoCar for the rest of the 14 picture photo gallery. Enjoy!

2016 Honda / Acura NSX Spied in Germany

Source | More PhotosAutoCar UK.

Kia Plans to Take on Toyota Prius in 2016

Not too long ago, Kia was little more than an upstart automaker in most people’s eyes. Today, however, things are different. Kia builds serious cars, these days, and their positioning themselves as a sub-Audi enthusiast brand has been absolutely spot-on. The next move for Kia, though, may take some people by surprise- especially Toyota, because the Koreans are gunning for the Prius.
That’s the news out of the UK, at least, where AutoCar claims that a Kia insider revealed a new model, known internally as the DE, is based on a standalone platform featuring a new transmission mated to a new, 1.6 liter gasoline engine and electric motor.
AutoCar’s sources say that the new car, which will probably be sold in North America, has two goals. The first is to help Kia meet the 95g/km fleet CO2 regulations to come into force in Europe in 2020, while the second is eat into the sales of the Toyota Prius and “steal” some of Toyota’s perceived technical leadership.
Based on absolutely noting at all, I’ve decided that the upcoming Kia hybrid will look like the Kia KND-7 concept revealed at the 2013 Seoul Motor Show. Probably. You can check out that compact 4 door (which, you guessed it, houses a 1.6 liter gas-powered engine mated to an all-new, 6 speed transmission) below.

Kia KND-7 Concept (2013)

Sources | ImagesAutoCar UKKia.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

OK-Go Rides Honda Uni-Cub In Latest Video

I’ll admit that despite my distaste for most of pop culture, OK-Go videos like this and this are a lot of fun to watch. Their latest music video for the song “I Won’t Let You Down” sees the singers spend the entire time riding the Honda Uni-Cub βeta, and it’s just as fun as their previous efforts.
Originally revealed in 2012 and then slimmed down in the βeta version revealed last year, the Uni-Cub is an interesting exercise in personal transportation. It has about 6 km/3.7 miles of driving range and a top speed of 6 KPH, which is just slightly faster than walking speed. However it is incredibly easy and fun to operate according to many of the reviews I’ve read, and as OK-Go shows the design presents a number of fun opportunities.
Thinking more practically, the Uni-Cub (or something like it) could potentially replaced wheelchairs or walkers for people who have trouble getting around. They could also be used for unguided tours, or even to rent for tired travellers who need to get from one side of the airport but want to give their weary feet a rest.
Or maybe all the Uni-Cub will ever be remembered for is that one time a hipster band made a kinda cool music video with that Japanese Segway thing.

2016 Chevy Volt Drivetrain Improvements Detailed

Engineers working on the 2016 Chevy Volt have used data collected from customers to design a follow-up to the best-selling plug-in car in America, and GM has detailed the first of those drivetrain improvements.
Among the improvements is a lighter battery with more storage capacity, the result of a joint effort between supplier LG Chem and GM, which share a once-controversial battery factory. GM claims efficiency improvements shaved 30 pounds off the weight of the battery pack, while increasing storage capacity by about 20%. While the company isn’t talking range estimates yet, 20% more battery capacity should translate to at least 20% more range, which would give the Volt over 40 miles of electric driving per charge. GM quotes the fact that about 15% of current Volt drivers regularly achieve more than 40 miles of electric range as well, perhaps as a wink-wink/nudge-nudge towards what to expect.
Also on tap for the 2016 Chevy Volt is a new two-motor drive unit that is 100 pounds lighter than the current unit, and as much as 12% more efficient. The system can also use both motors to propel the vehicle on electricity alone, improving acceleration under battery power by 20%. The Volt currently takes about 8.7 seconds to go from 0 to 60 MPH, and if GM gets it under 8 seconds, that’d be a mighty improvement in terms of driving enjoyment.
Also new for 2016 is a 1.5 liter engine, which adds more power yet supposedly sips less fuel, which could also boost the Volt’s fuel economy above 40 MPG (it currently sits at 37 combined). The new engine will eventually be built at GM’s Flint, Michigan engine plant, helping bring the Volt’s domestic content up above 70%, making it one of the most Murican cars you can buy.
GM also mentioned how they collected driving information from 300 volunteer Volt owners to decide where to make improvements to their plug-in hybrid. The data showed that more than 80% of the miles driven were on electricity only, and other surveys have shown that buyers would like more range, more room, and a lower cost. I imagine those three factors will play big with the 2016 Volt, as will the fact that owners have covered more than a billion miles, most of those on electricity alone.
For now that’s all the details GM is willing to divulge. As we get closer to the Detroit Auto Show debut, more features and improvements regarding the 2016 Volt are sure to leak out. What’s your wishlist for the new Volt?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kia Soul EV Range Autonomy Demonstration Nets More Than 100 Miles

Today, we tested a new Kia Soul EV for range autonomy. I met the car’s owner, Andrew, at a Walgreens drug stein Gardena, California at the appointed time of 9am. It was an absolutely beautiful Saturday morning as I drove my 2014 RAV4 EV up from San Diego, about 115 miles (184km), to meet Andrew and his fully charged and ready-to-go car. It was interesting to learn that Andrew had started his professional career as an 18 year old employee of General Motors working on the EV-1 project. He had lots of interesting stories about that program!
In addition, he had owned not one, but two previous Chevrolet Volts, both of which were returned (voluntarily) to the auto manufacturer due to service issues. It was with some trepidation and resolve that he stepped back into the electric vehicle arena to buy a brand new model from a manufacturer who had not previously offered an electric car for public consumption.
Kia Soul EV Gets Ready To Go Out (RAV4 EV That Got Us To Test In Background)
Kia Soul EV Gets Ready To Go Out (RAV4 EV That Got Us To Test In Background)
The Range Autonomy Demonstration is a standardized test that we perform on electric vehicles, with a purpose to more accurately compare the actual range between different models of electric cars in a very common scenario; the operator needs to know how far the vehicle will really go when stretching range in a steady speed highway situation compared to other cars. The parameters are always the same: two occupants for the test, in this case, both the owner Andrew and myself. The combined total crew weight is always close to 450 pounds (205 kg), plus or minus about 10%. There is no baggage allowed. We always use the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure, which in this case is 33 psi (2.275 bar).
The ambient air temperature is always near 70F (20C), plus or minus a handful of degrees, and the wind is always light. We drive in a loop specifically to mitigate the effect of any wind that may exist. Here in sunny southern California, the wind is predominantly out of the west. We drive to maintain 62mph (100kmh) ground speed as measured by GPS. The windows are either all the way up, or one may be slightly open for ventilation. If the vehicle is equipped with cruise control, we use it. In the case of the Kia, the actual ground speed matched the indicated speed of 62mph perfectly and the car has an excellent cruise control, which we used.
The cars are always unmodified in as close to “as-new” condition as is possible, and the test is always done with the climate control off. This last issue seems the most confusing to some EV drivers. Any climate control must consume energy to heat of cool the cabin (or battery), therefore no improvements or changes to the method of providing that heating or cooling will improve ultimate range. Those heating and cooling methods will merely change the amount of range that is lost, compared to an electric vehicle with the climate control off.
If you wanted to drive the maximum range of any electric vehicle where electricity is used to heat or cool, you would turn cabin climate control off to get the maximum range. Period. Plus, for testing, there are far too many variables that affect the energy used to heat or cool a cabin. How many people are in the cabin, solar radiant heating, temperature maintained, any cabin vents that may be opened or closed, cabin preheating or cooling that was performed, etc. For all those reasons, and to provide the most accurate comparisons between the vehicles tested, we never use climate control.
Just Heading Out On The Test
Just Heading Out On The Test
Another issue that is frequently discussed in relation to range is “regen”. That is the ability of the motor on the car to become a generator and put energy back into the battery, typically during slowing, stopping, or going down a hill. Of course, our test specifically eliminates regen because we drive at a constant speed on level ground. Like climate control, there are far too many variables with regen to make a simple test viable. All electric vehicles will limit the amount of regen based on battery capacity, battery temperature, or other programmed or user selectable variables. Cars that have user selectable regen profiles include the Tesla Model S, Volkswagen e-Golf and Mercedes Benz B-Class ED.  Other cars have non-adjustable, yet strong regen profiles, like the BMW i3. Finally, some cars have a “B” or “E” mode included with the gear selector that arbitrarily increases regen by some preset amount when selected. That feature is in cars like the Nissan LEAF and Toyota RAV4 EV.
Regen is never 100% efficient. It’s not even close to 100%. If you consume the energy, you can NEVER put it back in the battery as efficiently as not consuming the power in the first place. For around the town type driving, with lots of stops and starts, it will ALWAYS be more efficient to anticipate the stops and slow-downs so that you need neither brakes nor regen. Obviously, this isn’t practical in modern cities with impatient drivers around you, so we need a way to capture that energy that would otherwise be lost to braking; regen does that.
The singular instance where regen is viable from a purely efficiency standpoint is going down a hill with either a stop at the bottom (where you could not stop without braking) or when the vehicle is going down a hill too fast and either braking is required to limit speed, or the velocity has reached a point where it is better to use regen instead of “wasting” the energy on increased aerodynamic drag at the higher speed.
The Kia Soul EV’s closest competition is the Nissan LEAF, now with over 150,000 sold worldwide, so it’s easy to make comparisons between the two. At the 100kmh ground speed we would be driving, and since both cars are nearly the same weight, I expected that the Soul EV would be very close to the historical consumption rate of the LEAF in this test, which consistently has been 4 miles per kWh (250 watts per mile) or 6.437 km per kWh (155 watts per km) without climate control.
Of course, the Nissan LEAF has a significantly smaller 24kWh battery than the Soul EV, and of that 24kWh, only about 21.3kWh is usable to propel the car. The Kia Soul EV properly advertises the size of the battery that the consumer cares about; the useable stored autonomous energy. We found that to be almost exactly 27kWh useable, which means that the actual Kia Soul EV battery size is about 30.5kWh total.
Since the Kia Soul EV battery is fully 25% larger than the LEAF, we expected a range quite close to 25% farther than the 84 – 88 miles that a LEAF can perform (when in new condition) under these parameters. That would put the Soul EV at an estimated range of 105 – 110 miles. But, there’s a problem. We know that the Kia doesn’t slip through the air quite as smoothly as the LEAF, therefore the boxy looking car’s consumption rate would be expected to be slightly below the LEAF’s 4 miles per kWh. How much below 4, we would find out.

Center Console "Heading Out" Data
Center Console “Heading Out” Data
Range autonomy in any thing that moves over land, through the sea, or in the air is always a product of autonomous stored energy (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, nuclear “stuff”, rocket fuel, or electricity) multiplied by the consumption rate (economy) of that stored energy (miles per gallon, km per liter, tons per hour, or miles / km per kWh consumed).
So, the range in a test like ours is always:
(Usable kWh stored)* (miles / km per kWh consumption rate) = (range in miles / km)
The weather was absolutely perfect for the event with close to 70F (21C) degree weather, clear blue skies and light breezes. In short, another perfect day in southern California.
Weather between 8:53am and 11:53am at the Long Beach, California airport:
- Time — Temp. – DewPt-Pressure – Visibility-Wind Dir-Wind Speed – Gust Speed
8:53 AM — 70.0F – 62.1F – 30.04 in – 10.0 mi – northwest — 4.6 mph — N/A
9:53 AM — 73.0F – 61.0F – 30.05 in – 10.0 mi – calm ———- calm —— N/A
10:53 AM —73.9F – 62.1F – 30.05 in – 10.0 mi – variable —– 5.8 mph — N/A
11:53 AM —79.0F – 55.9F – 30.04 in – 10.0 mi – west ——-– 5.8 mph — N/A
Density Altitude Calculation
Density Altitude – 1117 feet, 340 meters
Absolute Pressure – 29.94 inches Hg, 1013hPa
Air Density – 0.074 lb/ft3, 1.185 kg/m3
Relative Density – 96.77%

Kia Soul EV Range Test Journey Hits The Highway
Kia Soul EV Range Test Journey Hits The Highway
The course selected was a 90 mile (144 km) loop that ended at the intersection of the 105 freeway eastbound and the 110 freeway southbound, just east of Hawthorne airport (home of the Tesla Design Studio and Space X), the point that I expected to be the earliest that the car may run out of power. We would then turn south on the 110 freeway, where we would drive by the starting point (where my car was waiting for me) for the shortest towing distance if the vehicle physically stopped.
Mapping It Out
Mapping It Out
All distances below per Google Maps linked above.
Walgreens Store Gardena – ChargePoint J1772 charging station
1344 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena, California
— 1.8 miles (2.9 km) – accumulated miles: 1.8 (2.9 km)
California 91 freeway east to Interstate 5 freeway south:
— 18.4 miles (29.4 km) – accumulated miles: 20.2 (32.3 km)
Interstate 5 freeway south to California 133 freeway south:
— 19.3 miles (30.9 km) – accumulated miles: 39.5 (63.2 km)
California 133 freeway to Interstate 405 freeway north:
— 1.0 miles (1.6 km) – accumulated miles: 40.5 (64.8 km)
Interstate 405 freeway north to 105 freeway east:
— 43.2 miles (69.1 km) – accumulated miles: 83.7 (133.9 km)
105 freeway east to 110 freeway south:
— 5.2 miles (8.3 km) – accumulated miles: 88.9 (142.3 km)
110 freeway south to Anaheim Street freeway exit:
— 10.5 miles (16.8 km) – accumulated miles: 99.4 (159 km)
Anaheim Street exit to Carl’s Jr, fast food restaurant, 1360 W 190th St, Torrance, California – Blink J1772 charging station
— 6.7 miles (10.7 km) – accumulated miles: 106.1 (169.7 km)

Trip odometer “A” was used to record miles driven. The odometer is currently reading 1.5% low compared to Google maps. As the tires get worn and ever so slightly reduced in their diameter, this will get more accurate. The speedometer was perfect compared to the two GPS’s that were used for the test, and as the tires wear, it will read slightly faster than the car is really going.
The headlights were turned off, climate control off (except fan) and tires set to 33 pounds per square inch (2.275 bars) pressure, which is the auto manufacturers recommendations. It’s likely that one or more percentage points of range could be gained by inflating the tires to the maximum recommended pressure, in exchange for a slightly less comfortable ride and possibly irregular wear on the tires.
The elevation profile of the route is nearly flat (virtually no hills of any kind), and very close to sea level. The dash display showed “98% battery” after driving 1.7 miles, however the percent was not observed at the start. Presumably, it read 100%. Finally, the “Distance to Empty” (DTE) meter, which I generally refer to as the “Guess-Oh-Meter” (GOM), was observed displaying 112 miles after having driven 1.7 miles.
We got underway at about 9:34am and finished about two hours later.
Kia Soul EV Test Results
Kia Soul EV Test Results

Amazingly, The Range Journey Ends With More Than 100 Miles In The Books For The Soul EV...And At A Functioning Blink Charger (we'll let you decide which of those two things were amazing)
Amazingly, The Range Journey Ends With More Than 100 Miles In The Books For The Soul EV…And At A Functioning Blink Charger (we’ll let you decide which of those two things were amazing)
Some Previous Real World Tests (click to enlarge)
Some Previous Real World Tests (click to enlarge)
We drove a total of 104.5 miles, however 100 miles from the odometer reading was at 62mph (100kmh). With the Google Maps correction of 1.5% added to the odometer, we will therefore award 101.5 mile (162.4 km) autonomous range at 62mph (100km)given our test parameters.
With an ending economy / consumption rate of 3.9 miles per kWh (256.4 watt hours per mile), or 6.24 km per kWh (160 watt hours per km) divided into the distance of 104.5 miles results with 26.8 kWh of usable energy consumed from the battery. Kia advertises the battery as 27kWh. For comparison, the Nissan LEAF advertises 24kWh, however that has led to confused consumers when the battery really only has 21.3kWh of usable stored energy when new.
We have not physically measured the energy consumption with external instruments, however using a common 200 – 240 volt charge station that can provide the Kia Soul EV with 30 to 32 amps, I would expect approximately 85% charger efficiency. Therefore, to recharge the car from a depleted battery to full would require approximately 32 kWh as measured from the charge station. We expect the maximum capacity of the battery to be 30.5kWh (typically the “advertised” capacity of other manufacturers).
26.8kWh * 3.9 miles per kWh = 104.5 miles total range for this test, with a correction of 1.5% increase equals 106 miles of ultimate range given these parameters.
This car is very well suited to take on the world leader in this class, the Nissan LEAF, both in range autonomy, but also in regard to a host of other small improvements (like the heated and cooled seats). I think the folks at Nissan better look over their shoulder! Congratulations to the Kia folks for a truly well done car.

Next-Gen 2016 Chevy Volt – Official Voltec Details Released, Looks Like 50 Miles Of Range

General Motors Tweets About 2016 Volt
General Motors Tweets About 2016 Volt
At a media event today in Warren, Michigan GM outlined a good bulk of its plans for the next generation of Chevrolet Volt.
The 2016 Volt will now have 5 operational modes, including the more common all electric mode,  range mode and mountain mode.
Volt 2.0 will also have the ability to use a blending of the two depending on the performance and efficiency the road (and the driver) wants – giving the car a 20% improvement in electric acceleration.
If GM’s 20% performance estimate relates to ‘off the line’acceleration, the next Chevrolet Volt will get to 60 mph in just over 7 seconds.
GM states that:
“The new system will be more efficient and offer greater EV range and fuel economy compared to the current generation.”
And while the company did not get into any hard specifics, they did outline some basically parameters than can give us a pretty decent idea of what to expect.
As far as efficiency goes, the new two motor drive unit is 100lbs lighter and 5-12% more efficient, so paper we can expect an extended range MPG of somewhere in the low 40s (the current Volt nets 37 MPG according to the EPA).  The next gen Volt will operation on regular gas, as opposed to premium.
As for range (via battery abilities), GM states the following:
“Revised cell chemistry, developed in conjunction with LG Chem, increases storage capacity by 20 percent on a volume basis when compared to the original cell, while the number of cells decreases from 288 to 192. The cells are positioned lower in the pack for improved (lower) center of gravity and the overall mass of the pack has decreased by almost 30 pounds (13 kg).”
The new Volt battery back is actually slightly smaller (and lighter) than the existing one, meaning that with a 20 percent increase in storage volume, its theoretical capacity would be about 20 kWh (the 2015 Volt is rated at 17 kWh). GM did note in the presentation that the new drive unit is more efficient as the Traction Power Inverter Module is now built into the drive unit, which reduces the complexity of the design and further improves range.
Even though the 2015 Chevrolet Volt is rated at 38 miles, that was based off a slightly smaller 16.5 kWh battery from 2014. Using the specifications given today, our guess is that the 2016 Chevrolet Volt will have an all electric range of 50 miles, allowing for perhaps 3-5 miles of variance from the unknown specific data points.
…but so much for that full size, adult 5th seat it would seem.
(full press release below)
Camouflaged 2016 Chevy Volt
Camouflaged 2016 Chevy Volt
1.5-Liter 2016 Volt Range Extender
The second-generation Chevrolet Volt will use an all-new Voltec drive unit and 1.5L 4-cylinder engine for extended range operation. The system was designed to be more efficient while providing increased acceleration.
The all-new Voltec drive unit used in the second-generation Chevrolet Volt is 100 lbs. lighter and up to 12 percent more efficient than the previous system.
The all-new Voltec drive unit used in the second-generation Chevrolet Volt is 100 lbs. lighter and up to 12 percent more efficient than the previous system.
The GM-designed electric motors used in the second-generation Chevrolet Volt deliver more than 20 improvement in electric acceleration. GM engineers designed the motors to use less rare earth materials. One motor doesn’t use any rare-earth type magnets.
The GM-designed electric motors used in the second-generation Chevrolet Volt deliver more than 20 improvement in electric acceleration. GM engineers designed the motors to use less rare earth materials. One motor doesn’t use any rare-earth type magnets.
The second-generation Chevrolet Volt uses an all-new battery system that maintains its signature t-shape configuration but uses nearly 100 fewer cells. The battery system will provide improved range while weighing 30 lbs. less than the previous battery system.
The second-generation Chevrolet Volt uses an all-new battery system that maintains its signature t-shape configuration but uses nearly 100 fewer cells. The battery system will provide improved range while weighing 30 lbs. less than the previous battery system.
Next-Generation Chevrolet Volt Features All-New Voltec Propulsion System for More Efficiency
Debuting in 2015, new model will have increased EV range
WARREN, Mich. – When the next-generation Chevrolet Volt debuts at the North American International Auto Show in January, it will feature an all-new Voltec extended range electric vehicle (EREV) propulsion system substantially developed from Volt owners including data collected on their driving behaviors.
The Voltec system includes the battery, drive unit, range-extending engine and power electronics. The new system will be more efficient and offer greater EV range and fuel economy compared to the current generation.
“Our Volt owners truly love the EV driving experience, with more than 80 percent of all trips being completed without using any gasoline. We’ve used their real-world experiences to define the next generation Chevrolet Volt,” said Alan Batey, head of global Chevrolet. “By putting our Volt owners at the center of what we do and leveraging our electrification engineering leadership, we’ve been able to raise the bar and will exceed their expectations with the new Volt.”
Enhanced Battery System Capability
General Motors’ industry-leading battery technology has been improved for the next-generation Volt. Revised cell chemistry, developed in conjunction with LG Chem, increases storage capacity by 20 percent on a volume basis when compared to the original cell, while the number of cells decreases from 288 to 192. The cells are positioned lower in the pack for improved (lower) center of gravity and the overall mass of the pack has decreased by almost 30 pounds (13 kg).
Approximately 20 million battery cells have been produced for the more than 69,000 Chevrolet Volts on the road today with industry-leading quality levels of less than two problems per million cells produced.
The battery system continues to use the Volt’s industry-leading active thermal control system that maintains electric range over the Volt’s life.
“The current generation Volt’s battery has proven to provide our owners exceptional performance when it comes to quality and reliability,” said Larry Nitz, executive director of GM Powertrain’s electrification engineering team.
Based on a GM study of more than 300 model year 2011 and 2012 Volts in service in California for more than 30 months, many owners are exceeding the EPA-rated label of 35 miles of EV range per full charge, with about 15 percent surpassing 40 miles of range. Current generation Volt owners have accumulated more than 600 million EV miles.
“It would have been simple for us to tweak our existing battery to provide nominally increased range, but that’s not what our customers want,” said Nitz. “So our team created a new battery system that will exceed the performance expectations of most of our owners.”
EV range estimates will be revealed in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
GM will manufacture the Volt battery pack at its battery assembly plant in Brownstown, Mich.
Drive Unit Focused On Improved Efficiency
Like the battery system, the next-generation Volt’s drive unit was reengineered with a focus on increased efficiency and performance, improved packaging and reduced noise and vibration characteristics. The two-motor drive unit operates approximately 5 to 12 percent more efficiently and weighs 100 pounds (45 kg) less than the current system.
The Traction Power Inverter Module, which manages power flow between the battery and the electric drive motors, has been directly built into the drive unit to reduce mass, size and build complexity while further improving efficiency.
The boost in performance comes from both motors operating together in more driving scenarios, in both EV and extended-range operation. The ability to use both motors helps deliver more than 20 percent improvement in electric acceleration. GM engineers designed the Voltec electric motors to use significantly less rare earth materials. One motor uses no rare earth-type magnets at all.
The new drive unit will be manufactured at GM’s Powertrain plant in Warren, Mich.
New 1.5L Range Extender
Energy for extended-range operation comes from an all-new, high-efficiency 1.5L 4-cylinder engine. The engine features a direct injection fuel system, high-compression ratio of 12.5:1, cooled exhaust gas recirculation and a variable displacement oil pump. The Voltec range extender runs on regular unleaded fuel.
“Using the 1.5L engine as the range extender assures owners they can go anywhere, anytime without having to worry about whether they have enough power to go through the Rocky Mountains or on a spontaneous weekend getaway,” Nitz said. “It’s all about keeping the promise that the Volt is a no-compromise electric vehicle.”
The 1.5L engine will be manufactured at GM’s Toluca, Mexico engine plant for the first year of production, then shift to the Flint, Mich. engine plant.
U.S./Canadian Content Increases
Since its introduction in late 2010, the Volt has established southeast Michigan as the hub of vehicle electrification development and manufacturing. The next-generation Volt will feature approximately 70 percent U.S. and Canadian components within its first year of production, a nearly 20 percent increase from the first-generation, Nitz said.