By: IOL Motoring Staff
Detroit, Michigan - Taking centre stage today on the Chevrolet stand at the Detroit motor show is the second-generation Volt extended-range battery car - with, says GM, an 80km range on battery power, a more efficient drivetrain and hotter acceleration.
All of which is wrapped in a sleeker, rather sportier body with a new, more upmarket, five-seat interior and more intuitive controls. In a word, according to GM, the Volt has become more mainstream.
A lot of work has gone into reducing the weight penalty involved in combining a 1.5-litre combustion engine, a 111kW electric motor and an 18.4kWh battery pack - the new drive unit is 45kg lighter than the previous model and the T-shaped LG battery pack under floor now has 192 slightly larger cells, instead of the previous 288, boosting capacity and reducing its weight from 193kg to 183kg.
Acceleration from 0-100km/h is quoted at 8.4 seconds - a seven percent improvement - top speed at 157km/h and range, using first the battery pack and then the 33.7 litres of 87-octane petrol in the fuel tank, is estimated at 676km.
While using the electric motor as an 'engine brake' when the driver presses the brake pedal and recovering the resulting wattage to the battery is nothing, the result is usually rather 'remote' braking with very little feel.
GM has not only put some effort into making the regeneration brake feel more like mechanical brakes, it has also added a Regen-on-Demand paddle behind the steering wheel so the driver can control the energy regeneration function.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
The charging cable is simpler in design and more compact, with its own, more convenient storage compartment, to make charging that much simpler.
The new Volt even knows where it lives: it uses GPS to recognise when it's 'at home' and defaults to a preset charging programme that charges the battery at tines (and amperages) chosen by the driver, so you can set it to charge when your domestic power is cheapest, or your household requirements are low (so that you don't, for instance run your pool-pump, your hot-water cylinder and charge your Volt at the same time.
The charge level indicators use tones to indicate when the car starts charging, with another tone for delayed charging and a third to warn you when you've left the charge port door open.
There's even an indicator repeater light on top of the instrument binnacle so you can check the state of charge without having to fetch the keys, unlock the car and get in.
GM has said that the new Volt's features and upgrades are based to a large extent on feedback from owners of the previous version.
It's due to go on sale in North America in mid-2015; there's no indication yet as to whether it will be released in South Africa.