“Gen 1 or better!”
That, says Andrew Farah, vehicle chief engineer for the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, was the motto he and his team lived by as they developed the second-generation car.
Realize that when they were developing the first generation—which appeared as a model year 2011 car—not only was this a period during which General Motors was undergoing some significant modifications and changes at all levels, but the team was creating an extended-range electric vehicle, something that was not exactly status quo technology at the time.
While the sales of the Volt have been modest (e.g., in 2014, 18,805 were delivered), Farrar and his colleagues have discovered that Volt owners are a special breed in that whereas ordinary compact sedans generally don’t have committed fans, that is certainly the case with the Volt. Consequently, they were able to get a significant amount of input regarding where the owners thought there could be better.
One of the things that was asked for was an increase in electric range. For the 2015 MY Volt, the battery capacity was improved from 16.5 kWh to 17.1 kWh. For the 2016 Volt, there is an all-new battery, which has a capacity of 18.4 kWh.
The previous-generation Volts have had an all-electric range of 38 miles. The 2016 Volt will have a 50-mile all-electric range.
It is not just the battery, of course, that makes the difference. Overall, they reduced the mass of the vehicle by more than 200 lb. (3,543 vs. 3,786 lb.)
They added the Regen on Demand feature (using paddles mounted on the rear of the steering wheel to activate regenerative braking), something that had been previously only available on the Cadillac ELR.
Overall, Farrar says on this week’s edition of “Autoline After Hours,” they fundamentally changed everything. And he explains much of what they did to make this new Volt a better Volt, one, he says, is likely to have more mainstream appeal (which he acknowledges owes a lot to the new design of the car).
Farrar talks with host John McElroy, Frank Marcus of Motor Trend and me on what is a fascinating discussion of EV technology.
In addition to which, the panel, after Farrar leaves the set, talks about a number of other things, including the BBC’s dismissal of Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson for exceedingly bad behavior, annoyances in cars, and several others subjects.
All of which you can see right here: