GM's Volt - the new breed of Hybrid

GM’s new generation Volt for 2016 is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle with an extended-range and it can stay in its electric mode right up until the battery depletes.

The GM Volt HybridThe other advantage it has over its competitors is the 85Km range from one charge. You need to add to that the range you get from its petrol engine running at 5.5L / 100K’s. In building the new Volt, GM may finally become competitive with Toyota in the regular hybrid market place.
 
The GM Volt BatteryA new 18.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery supplies the power for the Volt, which is also 20Kgs lighter than the previous version.

When the battery is near depletion the computer stops delivering power and the petrol engine kicks in. The battery is warranted and should last the vehicle’s lifetime as long as there are no complications. Recharging takes about 4.5 hours on a 3.6-kw, 240-volt charger.
 
The newly designed body is supposed to have been inspired both by endurance athletes, and windblown sand, ok maybe these Hybrids all look a bit similar anyway. The new Volt fits well into GM’s family lineup with some resemblances to the Cruze, it looks like a sedan, but is actually a hatchback.
 
The quickest acceleration is from the 2 electric motors powered by the battery and not the internal combustion engine. This engine may run in battery preserving Hold mode, which suspends any EV operation, or in the Charge-Sustaining mode. This phase takes over when the battery is depleted.

Both modes do the same thing, but Hold sustains the battery’s state of charge while there is enough energy left to run in EV mode, and Charge-Sustaining mode is a default state when propulsion energy is no longer available.
                                                                                                           
The difference between petrol and electric power will be unnoticeable to most people, but in reality a bit more acceleration is available in the electric mode.

So with the petrol engine off you can achieve faster 0-100K times. On test drives we have read that once the battery has run out, the Ecotec engine seamlessly comes on in the Charge-Sustaining mode as per normal Volt practice with muted noise, vibration compared to the earlier version.

Volt BadgeThe question is whether GM’s Volt sales will be better than analysts are predicting. The 320-kilometer range will help take some fear away for buyers. But will other manufactures take market share away with other features and benefits, who knows?

This market place does have potential but it has taken an age to gain any real traction due in some measure to a higher cost product. This Volt has been reinvented and may be it will do well. It is to be released in just 11 of the 50 states in the US to see how it’s received so it could be some time before we see a version here in Australia and New Zealand. 

November 2015

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