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The tide may be turning for the Chevrolet Volt. Sales are running ahead of last year’s pace by more than 220 percent through the end of May, with dealers in key California markets barely able to keep up with demand. In fact, GM had to shorten the planned summer shutdown on the Volt assembly line to boost volume. And now, for the 2013 model year, Chevy engineers have deployed a number of tech advances that will help the Volt increase both efficiency and sales yet further.
Per the EPA, the 2013 Volt will boast a window sticker featuring grades of 101 MPGe city/93 MPGe highway/98 MPGe combined, reflecting non-negligible increases of 6.3 percent in the city and 4.25 percent in combined travel; the Volt’s highway rating is unchanged. The result, however, is a welcome boost to the car’s all-electric, zero-emissions driving range, which grows to 38 miles on a single charge—a jump of almost 8.6 percent. The changes also extend the Volt’s overall driving range to a full 380 miles, a number achievable thanks to the car’s onboard gas-powered engine/generator. That powerplant can take over if the Volt’s battery pack runs low and can motivate the car to the tune of 37 mpg in combined driving.
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2013 Chevy Volt: The Science of Fuel Efficiency
Curious about how Chevy was able to elevate the ol’ bar in terms of Volt efficiency? Engineers relied on a two-pronged attack that included slightly modifying the manganese spinel chemistry of the Volt’s battery cells for better performance and durability for the life of the battery pack—which is covered by an 8-year/100,000-mile limited warranty.
In laymen’s terms, according to Bill Wallace, GM’s director of Global Battery Systems Engineering: “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. This attention to detail will allow our customers to experience more pure EV range, which is the true benefit of owning a Volt.”
The Volt’s battery has been enhanced to store more electric power, too, and rely on more of it to actually drive the car.
It’s true that the changes will slightly increase charging times, but “slightly” is the operative word here: Chevrolet indicates the 2012 Volt can be fully recharged with a 240-volt charging unit in “as little as four hours”; the 2013 model is expected to only increase that by about 15 minutes.
Drivers can look for the 2013 Chevy Volt to reach dealerships later this year.
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