2013 Chevy Volt Gets 38-Mile Electric Range, Higher 98-MPGe Rating

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2013 Chevrolet Volt

2013 Chevrolet Volt

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It may be hard to imagine, but the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car is about to enter its third model year.

The new 2013 Chevrolet Volt will offer a slightly higher all-electric range, up from 35 to 38 miles. Its base price of $39,995 will not change.

Next year's Volt will also receive a higher EPA efficiency rating, from 94 to 98 MPGe, or Miles Per Gallon Equivalent--a measure of how far the vehicle can travel on electricity with the energy content of 1 gallon of gasoline.

The 2013 Volt will be fitted with a battery pack that holds slightly more energy--up from 16 to 16.5 kilowatt-hours--and the car can draw on 10.8 kWh of that total, rather than the 10.3 kWh available in 2011 and 2012 models.

The changes come courtesy of a slightly altered chemistry in the lithium-ion cells provided by LG Chem.

The revised cells have a slightly different composition of materials in their manganese-spinel chemistry, though neither company provided specific details of the changes. GM compared the changes to adjusting the proportions of sugar and vanilla for better flavor while baking a cake.

With more energy capable of being drawn from the battery, recharging time for a fully depleted 2013 Volt pack will rise slightly.

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

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Chevrolet says it will take 4 hours and 15 minutes using a 240-Volt Level 2 charging system, or 10.5 hours using 110-Volt household current.

The revised cell chemistry, Chevy says, has been tested through the equivalent of 150,000 vehicle miles. Results showed that the battery degrades more slowly and can operate at temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit).

Other changes to the 2013 Chevrolet Volt include a "Hold Drive" button that allows owners to conserve battery-pack energy for use at a particular time or when it will make the car most efficient. This is essentially the "charge-sustaining button" in the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera sold in Europe.

Chevy will also fit the low-emission package standard on later 2012 Volts sold in California to those 2013 Volts sold in New York state as well, making them eligible for High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane access with only a single occupant.

Visually, the liftgate and roof are now body-colored rather than black. A new interior color--Pebble Beige--is available in both cloth upholstery and leather seats with suede inserts.

And a removable rear-seat center armrest is included in the Premium trim package.

Other changes to the audio system, the Comfort package, and a pair of available Safety packages for the 2013 Volt had been known since mid-April.

But the revisions to the battery pack had not been disclosed before today.

As a range-extended electric car, the Volt travels 25 to 45 miles on grid energy used to recharge its battery pack by plugging in the car. GM notes that roughly three-quarters of all U.S. vehicles travel less than 40 miles a day.

After the battery pack is depleted, the Volt's 1.4-liter gasoline range extender switches on--not to power the wheels but to turn a generator that provides electricity to the 111-kW (149-hp) electric motor that actually turns the drive wheels.

The 2013 Chevrolet Volt will have a total range on grid power plus gasoline of 380 miles.

Production of the 2013 Chevy Volt will start early next month at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, and 2013 Volts will arrive at Chevrolet dealers starting in August.

Thus far, GM says, owners of existing 2011 and 2012 Chevrolet Volt models have traveled more than 65 million miles in their cars--roughly two-thirds of those miles on electricity drawn from the power grid.


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Comments (33)
  1. 4.2% improvement in efficiency
    8.5% increase in range,
    in about two years.
    Seems to fit in roughly with the Voelcker rule of 6-8% improvement per year.
    It would be even more interesting to know what the pricing looks like on the battery packs. I'll bet there is some improvement in that as well.

  2. But you can't option it out on the Chevrolet web site... yet.

  3. This will make a considerable difference to Chevy Volt drivers who travel more than 40 miles per day.

    My Volt currently gets about 165MPG (55-60 mile roundtrip commute. My range is about 41Miles in this mild weather.

    In the coldest days of the Winter, my MPG was "only" about 75 when my range was cut to just 25 miles.

    My blended average is 93MPG. This is likely to go up as I got the car in September... so I will get 3 additional months of milder weather (presumably with 35+ mile range).

    NOTE: all of these numbers are MPG (not MPGe). I pay $42.40/month for unlimited charging through DTE energy. That is $1.41/day... but I can charge more than once per day for that price, so that calculation can vary.

  4. It is getting better and better! Not enough improvement to piss off the current purchasers, but enough to make it look more attractive to future buyers. Good balance!


  5. Gee, it almost looks like it's planned.

  6. It may sound silly but the 2012 only came with fabric seats in black (if you didn't want leather), I live in Texas and it is just brain dead to buy a car with black seats!

    That's a good change!! ;-)

  7. Interesting choice of picture, as the I-10 and I-110 High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes that are replacing some of the HOV lanes will not necessarily grant free access to vehicles with the green decals without 2 occupants. http://dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d03/vc5205_5.htm, see subdivision (k)

  8. Next, they need to find a new ICE that is much more efficient genset. There are at least three OEM's that could build them right now.

    A smaller displacement ICE (800cc-1L) that *only* charges the battery would work much better: it only has to meet the *average* power required by using the battery as a buffer, it can be tuned to run at peak efficiency driving a fixed load (the current engine varies it's RPM to provide just enough power for the electric motor -- it does *not* charge the battery at all!).

    The other huge advantage is the engine only runs part of the time! It only needs a smaller fuel tank and smaller cooling system. The front grill can be closed when the ICE isn't running, to have lower drag. A true serial hybrid...


  9. Neil, I have a Volt now but I'd pass if they followed your instructions. A car that weighs what the Volt does with a 800 cc. engine would be horrible when driving on only gas. Efficiency is great, but not at the expense of a capable car for me, personally.

    And why would GM need another OEM to make the ICE when the Cruze gets almost exactly the same mileage as its rivals? What three OEMs have "much more efficient" ICEs right now in the same class? And how many OEMs buy engines from other OEMs? Very few, I believe.

    I certainly respect your suggestions and knowledge, but that's just not what I want, unless I'm missing something, whcih is quite possible...

  10. The Volt ICE does not power the wheels, but drives an alternator to generate electricity to keep the ELECTRIC motor driving the car. In rare circumstances the ICE can also engage directly to ADD a small fraction of direct motive power, BUT even an 800cc to 1 liter power plant should suffice for both those functions....even more interesting to me would be a small diesel.

  11. That's the point of a true serial hybrid -- the ICE doesn't mechanically power the wheels.

    And the current Volt *does* use the ICE to directly power the wheels in some conditions.

    And it varies the RPM's of the ICE to power the electric motor directly, and does not charge the battery -- giving up several of the main advantages a serial hybrid could have. (See my earlier post.)


  12. Both Neil and George, thanks for the clarification, which I knew to some degree, but obviously not well enough... But to be clear here, are you stating that there would be absolutely zero difference in available power/torque no matter what the ICE size and performance? Whether a 600 cc. minicar or s more standard 1.4L ICE, for example?

    Just trying to really understand this time... Thanks!

  13. In a true serial hybrid, the electric motor is the only thing that directly mechanically moves the vehicle. The only thing the ICE does is spin the generator. To do this most efficiently, the genset should run at a fixed RPM, and it should charge the battery, and it should only be run when the battery needs charging.

    To be clear, the Volt is not truly a serial hybrid, as it can move the car mechanically with the ICE -- it is a multi-mode hybrid; not unlike the Prius, actually.

    So, doing what I am suggesting would require a major redesign; at which time I hope they address the too small rear seat, and make significant aero drag improvements. GM can build a car with 1/3 less drag -- see the Impact/EV1.


  14. Umm...no. It gives up the advantages of a serial hybrid when HVN are at an unacceptable level for a $40,000 car, or when the ECU computes their are efficiencies to be gained.

  15. The "major redesign" would be to tell the software not to clutch the engine to MG II, which would tie the engine to the ring gear, when MG II is also clutched to the ring gear (and acting as a motor and not a generator), even if it is less efficient.

    Which GM did not do, for the times that it is more efficient.

  16. The Volt's ICE will NEVER directly power the wheels.
    You obviously don't know how it really works.

  17. @WopOnTour: That's not true. Under certain circumstances, as GM engineers discussed at the Volt launch event in Fall 2009, the Volt's transmission locks adds torque from the engine output to the traction motor torque, combining the two to drive the front wheels. It happens in a minority of circumstances, and only when the car's control software determines that this is the most efficient use of the ICE (direct drive as well as generating electricity), but I'm afraid your statement is flat-out wrong.

  18. John, trust me I KNOW how it operates. What you are describing (2 motor combined mode) is NOT a "direct" connection as by your own explaination it is working together with the traction motor (MG2). So MG2 can be used to soley and directly power the wheels but ICE cannot (without a reaction member at the sun gear ie MG2) That's all I'm saying. It is a common fallacy that "at times" the ICE is the sole element in tractive power to the wheels.

  19. @WopOnTour: Ah, I misread what you intended to convey in your comment. To me, saying an engine "directly power[ing] the wheels" doesn't imply "exclusively" and alone--but that's a difference in wording.

    We agree entirely: Yes, in a Volt, the engine *alone* can never power the wheels. Even when it contributes torque through the planetary gear set, it is combined with the MG2 torque.

  20. There are more comments in this thread
  21. What a bunch of "hot-air" lol

  22. There is a prolific and knowledgeable poster on GM-Volt named WopOnTour. I think you have usurped his name. You should desist, as you will give him a bad reputation.

  23. Guess who! ;)

  24. You have some slight mis-conceptions. The ICE in the Volt does charge the battery, but only a small amount. This makes it run very efficiently in that the ICE will usually turn off at low speeds. They decided to sacrifice some efficiency to keep noise down and rpms lower for all but the most demanding senarios. The front grill does get closed when cooling air is not required. A smaller engine will have to work harder and possibly be noisier, and there is some good argument that a smaller engine with a turbo could produce the same required power. GM engineers would have looked at all the variations, including a 3 cylinder as you suggest, (I had a GM Metro with a 3 cylinder turbo built by Suziku I think)

  25. I have been averaging 44 to 46 EV range in my 2012 as long as I keep the speed to around 65 on the freeway. Mine was built in Feb with the new CA Smog system.

  26. Is that 98MPGe city or highway or combined? Old Volt vs new Volt city and highway numbers when in electric mode?

  27. Why did the MPGe rating increase if the Volt still weighs the same? Isn't the KWH per mile still the same? Seems odd that it changed.


  28. Weight is not the only factor that affects efficiency. In fact, it is the 3rd most important factor, in my opinion. The most important is drivetrain efficiency, and this is what GM has improved (a bit) this time, by improving the battery performance. The 2nd most important factor is aerodynamic drag, because it is a total loss, and it is 50-75% of the total load at most speeds. Weight only matters during acceleration, and you can "regain" some of the invested energy by coasting; and in EV's and hybrids have regen to regain some more energy.

    To gain more drivetrain efficiency, the Volt needs to use less gasoline & use electricity as much as possible. To do this, they should put a bigger battery in and/or make the ICE better...


  29. (con't) The 1.4L cast iron ICE and massively complicated transmission w/ 3 clutches should be shelved. This saves weight on the fuel & cooling system, and it can lower drag when the ICE is not in use.

    Put in a 800-1000cc aluminum engine that has a finely tuned peak efficiency at a specific RPM (which is much easier to do than an ICE with a broad power band). It should be able to get 38%+ driving a constant load of a generator.

    The electric motor can be ~94% efficient, which is ~3X better than the current 1.4L ICE.

    Since you can begin charging the battery before it is too flat, you just need to meet the *average power needed. The ICE only needs to run 30-50% of the time.

    The Volt should be a true serial hybrid.


  30. Thanks for your informative posts Neil. Hopefully GM will implement the improvements you've mentioned as well as many others. Seems like the 2013 Volt has enough improvements to a more viable vehicle for green carpool sticker seeking drivers in CA.

    A small .8 or 1.0L diesel would likley improve the fossil fuel efficiency by at least 30%. And lower the drag to at least .25 and weight much closer to 3K lbs instead of the heavy 3,700. I know the batteries are a big part of that weight but there are many other areas where the heavy metals can be replaced with much lighter composites.

    I'm looking forward to a Volt in 2015 or 2016 that gets at least 80 EV miles w/ at least a 120mpge. And a little bit more room for front seat passengers.

  31. You pair of armchair enginers are way out to lunch. Given the existing levels of loss present in modern power inverter modules, the MINIMUM ICE power level necessary to be able to generate the 56kW the Volt's MG1 potentially produces would be ~61kW/82hp. Show me the currently produced 800-1000 cc ICE (diesel or otherwise) that can produce that without falling WAY off the edge of it's BSFC map. What you are suggesting wouldnt be any more efficient than the latest GM Ecotec design which both the Volt and Cruze utilize.
    PS and f you thnk the Volt's transaxle is in any waymore complex than even a simple 3 speed automoatic trans, you obviously don't have a clue. Buy a vowel maybe...

  32. That's a great idea, and much of my hope for the 1st generation Volt. When GM explained that it would add 9 months and half a billion dollars to developing the Gen I version...well...

    ...and it actually adds a few miles of range to the configuration using the 1.4, all things considered. Can perfect be the enemy of the possible?

  33. How many do you guys get when you charge your volt, do you get 38 miles every time? I only get 28 miles on 220 volts,and 24 miles on 110 volts. please help me with this question.

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