Although it may seem little, the Chevy Volt that’ll be released in 2013 will feature a 38 mile fully electric autonomy, while the total distance with the range extender will go up to 380 miles. This is a slight improvement to the 2010 version, which had 35 miles of battery autonomy.
However, statistics say that in two thirds of the miles traveled Volts never used the internal combustion engine. With these latest improvements, the miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) will increase to 98, versus the 94 miles for the 2010 version.
The GM team kept the same battery based on manganese spinel chemistry, but improved the “recipe” a bit by modifying the amount of each material to increase range and lifespan.
“The best way to explain what we’ve done at the cell level is to compare it to a cake batter recipe. Sometimes if you use more sugar and less vanilla you get a better tasting cake. We’ve done some work at the cell level to modify the ‘ingredients’ to make a better end result,” said Bill Wallace, GM director of Global Battery Systems Engineering.
The total energy storage capacity has nevertheless increased by 0.5 kWh to 16.5 kWh and the 2013 battery can be discharged slightly more than the old one. A rule of thumb in using batteries in general is to never discharge them below a certain threshold, or you’ll shorten their life significantly. This is not the case with the Volt battery, since its recipe has been reformulated to bear deeper discharges.
The Chevrolet Volt is a great car – the 65 million miles stay as a testimony to that. However, GM needs to invent or buy the patent of a quick charger, as the current charging time goes to 10.5 hours if you plug the car into a 120V socket, and 4.25 hours into an European-type, 240V one.