The Chevy Volt has been the darling of the automotive press since the first units rolled off the line in 2010. General Motors earned best-of-year awards from American and international press due to the Volt’s balance of all-electric drive and efficient engineering. These plaudits as well as positive experiences by Volt drivers could have encouraged GM to stay complacent. The 2013 Chevy Volt demonstrates GM’s commitment to improving this innovative vehicle. This second-generation Volt will feature an all-electric range of 38 miles as well as improved performance in inclement weather.
The Volt design team opted for minor tweaks to the original design when creating the 2013 model. Battery chemistry remains the same but capacity was increased from 16 kWh to 16.5 kWh and output from 10.3 kWh to 10.8 kWh. GM also notes that battery power consumption has been cut from 36 kWh per 100 miles to 35 kWh per 100 miles. These changes will extend charging time to 10.5 hours for a standard 120-volt outlet and four hours for a 240-volt charger. A minor extension of charging time is a small sacrifice for improvements to battery efficiency and range.
The fuel economy and vehicle range estimated for the 2013 Chevy Volt should appeal to urban commuters. GM estimates that the fuel economy rating will jump from 94 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) for the original Volt to 98 MPGe. The 2013 Chevy Volt can travel up to 38 miles on all-electric charge, an increase of four miles from the first-generation Volt. The overall range using electric and gas power is 380 miles based on early testing. GM has already run the Volt through 150,000 miles of testing over the past six months. The new Volt can start at temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius and the battery pack can survive longer than the original pack.
GM relied as much on consumer experiences with the Volt as objective study when reworking the 2013 Chevy Volt. The automaker sold more than 15,000 Volts since late 2010 with more than a quarter registered to California residents. These vehicles have traveled more than 65 million miles in the past year and a half. An important finding in GM’s evaluation of the Volt was that at least 65% of miles traveled by Volts used electrical power. Volt owners do not use their gas engines as much as indicated by skeptics, making slight improvements to all-electric range more meaningful.
The Chevy Volt has surmounted public relations challenges in the past year and moved into its next generation. GM faced accusations by Republicans in Congress that the Volt was an expensive boondoggle that ultimately failed to penetrate the market. These criticisms stemmed in part from an exploded battery in a test version of the Volt stored at a GM plant. GM has responded not only by highlighting consumer experiences with the Volt in commercials but doubling down on the 2013 Volt. A series of TV ads during primetime shows features Volt owners gushing about the vehicle’s reliability, range and comfort. The 2013 Chevy Volt aims at consumers interested in eco-friendly driving rather than political rhetoric.