European Car of the Year 2012
- Volt is electrically driven at all times
- Up to 300 miles of driving on a full battery charge and full tank of fuel
- Electric range of up to 50 miles on one battery charge
- Recharging is quick, reliable and safe
- Five Star EuroNCAP rating
- Instant torque and aerodynamics to match Corvette
The Chevrolet Volt – voted European Car of the Year 2012 – opens a new chapter in the history of electric motoring. By virtue of its fundamental design, the Volt enables occupants to enjoy the benefits of no-emission driving as well as the performance and practicality normally associated with conventional cars. Whether you are out in the countryside or bogged down in a traffic jam, the Volt will get you home.
Equally important, the Chevrolet Volt delivers confident road manners. Its electric drive unit provides 370Nm of instant torque, an acceleration time of 0-60mph in 9.0 seconds; and a top speed of 99mph, making the Volt as nimble as any passenger car.
On a single battery charge, the car is capable of covering 25-50 miles using solely its internally stored electrical energy. Independent studies have shown this is sufficient to meet the daily needs of 80 per cent of European drivers.
In extended-range mode, which activates whenever the battery has reached its minimum charge, motive power from a generator is seamlessly inverted to the electric drive unit.
“The Volt is the first mass-produced car that combines the efficiency and carbon footprint of an electric vehicle with a range and degree of flexibility previously unthinkable in this segment,” said Susan Docherty, President and Managing Director of Chevrolet Europe. “The Chevrolet Volt is the best solution on the planet today for worry-free electric driving.”
A sample of early Volt customers in the US, where the car has been on sale since late 2010, suggests that they drive 1,000 miles before filling up the fuel tank. In Europe, meanwhile, the Volt qualifies for government subsidies in many countries and cities. In the UK, the Volt qualifies for the government’s Plug-In Car Grant worth up to £5,000, while it is exempt from the daily congestion charge in London, saving owners up to a further £2,000 per year.
The Volt’s design reflects its technical sophistication. With its grounded stance, sculpted shoulder line and finely crafted light clusters, the Volt looks and feels like an upscale, sporty compact car. It is no coincidence that the Volt ranks among Chevrolet’s most aerodynamic vehicles. With a drag coefficient of 0.28, its aerodynamic performance is on a par with the Corvette’s.
Among the Volt’s key interior features are the two large screens that replace conventional instruments in front of the driver. They provide essential information and help the driver use the Volt and its unique propulsion system as efficiently as possible, depending on individual requirements.
Thanks to its extremely strong integral structure, the Volt ensures outstanding occupant protection. In 2011, the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Chevrolet Volt its “Top Safety Pick” while the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the car a five-star rating.
Pioneering Voltec electric propulsion system
The heart of the all-new Chevrolet Volt is its unique Voltec propulsion system that makes it the world’s first electrically driven, extended-range vehicle. The Volt’s 150hp electric drive unit consists of two electric motors, three clutches and a planetary gearset that improve overall efficiency by reducing the combined rotational speed of the electric motors. Crucially, the drivetrain includes an onboard generator that extends the vehicle’s range to more than 300 miles in total.
Being electrically driven at all times, the Volt offers 25-50 miles of battery-powered electric driving, depending on terrain, driving technique and temperature.
Its capability to operate after the battery’s energy has been used up sets the Volt apart from other electric vehicles. The Volt’s 250 miles of extended range comes from an advanced 1.4-litre, 86hp petrol-powered engine. Once the battery’s energy is exhausted, power is seamlessly inverted to the electric drive unit from the generator.
The Volt can be driven in town or across the country in all climates, without compromise. Its drivetrain delivers 0-60mph acceleration in 9.0 seconds and a top speed of 99mph. Four driving modes – “Normal”, “Sport”, “Mountain” and “Hold” – assist the driver in manoeuvring the Volt through a variety of driving situations. “Hold” enables the driver to preserve the full energy stored in the battery pack. This is particularly valuable when driving into restricted emissions zones, such as the London congestion charge area.
High-performance battery pack
The Volt’s T-shaped, 198g lithium-ion battery pack has a storage capacity of 16kWh and comprises 288 prismatic cells. It sits in the centre tunnel of the vehicle, protected by ultra high-strength Martensite steel. Because batteries can be sensitive to temperature changes, the pack is climate-controlled by an active liquid control system that is designed to provide reliable operation from -25°C to +50°C.
The standard 6m-long charging cable stows under the rear cargo floor. Using a conventional 240V/10A power outlet, owners can fully recharge the battery in six hours.
Based on the electricity rate schedule, electricity rate preference and the programmed departure time, the Volt is able to calculate the charging. The vehicle will use the cheapest rate to achieve a full battery charge by a given departure time.
The battery pack is included in an eight-year/100,000 mile warranty which covers the Voltec propulsion system.
A smooth, streamlined silhouette
The Chevrolet Volt proves impressively that a cutting-edge electric vehicle can turn heads. Its refined appearance is created by wide front and rear tracks of 1546 and 1573mm, a wheelbase of 2685mm and 7x17in five-spoke, flow-formed alloy wheels. The stretched upper daylight opening is accentuated by a single arc roofline, delivering a sleek upper body appearance.
The Chevrolet dual-port grille has been closed for enhanced aerodynamic efficiency. Horizontally shaped headlamps are inset into the forward corners of the car’s front section and incorporate piano black bezels, ice-blue LED daytime running elements and halogen projector lamps.
A distinctive, glossy, piano-black shoulder line dives slightly as it runs forward, incorporating the mirror post and culminating over the front wheelarch where it carries the Volt badge.
By reducing the energy needed to overcome air resistance, Volt aerodynamicists contributed an estimated 8 miles of electric range, and 50 miles of extended range.
The cabin reflects the pioneering nature of its propulsion system, and offers the space, comfort and convenience customers expect from a technologically highly advanced passenger car. The interior features Chevrolet’s signature dual cockpit layout, black leather seats and white cabin accents.
Replacing conventional instruments in front of the driver, the Information Centre is a reconfigurable graphic display. Designed for maximum ease of use, it is teamed with a full-colour, touch screen display in the centre console, which is the primary interface for all infotainment, navigation, climate control, power use and charging functions.
Among the cockpit highlights is a driving efficiency display alongside the speed read-out in the Driver Information Centre. It depicts a revolving ball which moves up or down and changes colour according to vehicle speed, acceleration and braking efficiency. Keeping the ball in the centre of the display denotes optimum power usage.
The Volt offers five-door versatility, comfortable accommodation for four adults, and a seat up/seat down load carrying capacity of 310/1005 litres.
State-of-the-art comfort and infotainment systems
The Chevrolet Volt is equipped with automatic climate control with an electric cabin heating and air conditioning system. The air conditioning compressor is electrically powered at all times, so there is no need for a belt drive from a running engine. Heated front seats are also standard.
Every Volt comes with Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, park assist and reversing camera. The AM/FM stereo and CD player is MP3 capable, includes steering wheel controls, and has an aux-in connection. The system also seamlessly connects, charges and controls MP3 players through a standard USB port.
For customers who seek additional infotainment content, the optional satellite navigation system, along with a Bose® Energy Efficient Series Sound System, is offered. The 7in touch screen navigation system includes European map coverage, voice recognition, DVD-ROM compatibility and DVD playback capability. The upgraded infotainment system comprises a seven-speaker Bose sound system, 60GB hard drive and optional Digital radio.
Confident road command, outstanding safety
Thanks to the rigidity of its solid foundation and its low centre of gravity, the Volt delivers confident road command and driving comfort. Its 17-inch wheels are made of forged aluminium and weigh only 8.1 kg each. Special low rolling-resistance tyres were developed specifically for Europe to provide optimum electric vehicle range, noise, feel, and dynamic performance.
The electro-hydraulic brake system contributes to recharging the vehicle’s battery pack during braking. It enables 100 per cent regenerative braking, 100 per cent friction braking (traditional disc braking), or any combination of each.
The Volt provides outstanding occupant safety, built around an extremely strong integral frame. About 80 per cent of the body structure’s construction is high-strength, advanced high-strength or ultra high-strength steel.
A number of dedicated tests were performed to ensure the safety of the 16kWh lithium-ion battery, including its watertightness. In the event of an emergency, the battery pack, which is protected by ultra high-strength Martensite steel, can easily be disconnected by rescue services.
Eight airbags are fitted in the Volt, alongside an array of further active and passive protective measures that contribute to the car’s excellent safety performance. Because the Volt is extremely quiet when being driven on battery power, the driver can activate a chirping sound that to warn pedestrians of its approach.
Award-winning qualities and 2012 European Car of the Year
The Volt hasn’t just gone down well with early buyers, it has also captured some major industry awards. In addition to more than 30 engineering, technology and environmental awards already bestowed upon it, the Volt has recently been crowned European Car of the Year 2012. Other key accolades include: 2011 Green Car of the Year, 2011 North American Car of the Year and 2011 World Green Car.
Sleek profile and innovative details for Chevrolet’s most ground-breaking car
- Bold look, sharp details and a smooth, refined profile
- Single arc roofline, distinctive shoulder line and high-tech lighting
- One of the most aerodynamic vehicles in GM’s history
The Chevrolet Volt proves that a cutting-edge electric vehicle can turn heads. With its grounded stance, distinctively sculpted shoulder line and finely crafted head and tail lamps, the Volt looks and feels like a premium sports saloon.
“We were determined to complement the Volt’s groundbreaking propulsion system with an equally revolutionary design,” said Bob Boniface, Director of Design for the Volt. “We emphasised a wheels-out, body-in stance to make as dynamic and sleek a statement as possible. While there is no mistaking its Chevrolet design language, it is very technical and refined in execution, with lots of interrelating surfaces that bring clean, crisp edges and creases.”
The Volt, with its revolutionary drivetrain, is among Chevrolet’s most aerodynamic vehicles. A range of streamlined features contribute to a drag coefficient of 0.28, on a par with the Corvette’s aerodynamic performance.
High-tech lighting and ‘masked’ Chevrolet face
The Volt’s refined appearance is created by its wide front and rear tracks of 1,546 and 1,573mm, a wheelbase of 2,685mm, and 7x17in, five-spoke alloy wheels. The top half of the car is accentuated by a single arc roofline that gives a sleek upper body appearance.
The Chevrolet dual-port grille has been closed for enhanced aerodynamic efficiency. Horizontally shaped headlamps are inset into the forward corners of the front section and incorporate piano-black bezels, ice-blue LED daytime running lights and halogen projector lamps. The theme continues with indicator lights in the lower forward corners. Between the fog lamps, engineers placed a trapezoidal air intake that echoes the grille’s shape.
A distinctive, glossy, piano-black shoulder line dives slightly as it runs forward, incorporating the A-pillar and culminating in the front wing where it carries the Volt nameplate. The charging port is located just forward of the driver’s door. The sleek design theme carries to the rear of the vehicle, with high-tech LED tail lamps and a glossy black rear tailgate that carries centred Chevrolet bowtie and Volt badges.
The aerodynamics of a performance car
Working closely with aerodynamicists to shape the Volt, Chevrolet’s design and engineering teams developed one of the most aerodynamic vehicles in GM’s history. By reducing the energy needed to overcome air resistance, Volt aerodynamicists contributed an estimated eight miles of electric range and 50 miles of extended range.
The Volt’s rounded, flush front fascia, tapered corners and closed dual-port grille enable air to move easily around the car to minimise drag. At the rear, sharp edges and a carefully designed spoiler control air flow. An aggressive rake on the windscreen and back glass also helps reduce turbulence and drag while saving energy. These measures combine to give the Volt a drag coefficient of 0.28, which puts it in the same league as the legendary Corvette.
“Meeting the stringent aerodynamic and wind noise targets required a lot of work,” said Bob Boniface. “Because the Volt is so quiet in electric mode, we also had to tune the areas around the passenger compartment to reduce wind noise.”
Standard wheels fitted to the Volt are 7x17in, painted aluminium items. They have been designed to minimise turbulence, further reducing aerodynamic drag. Black polycarbonate inserts have been fitted into the alloy wheels, minimising turbulence and further reducing aerodynamic drag.
The Volt has been engineered and crafted with attention to detail. A single-piece body-side outer ring eliminates the need for composite roofline or rocker inserts. The result is a clean, body side panel virtually free of seams or gaps.
All underbonnet components have been held to a standard of appearance that ensures uniformity with similarly grained surfaces, colours and overall aesthetics. The clean, integrated design features minimum holes and fasteners.
All secondary surfaces (areas seen around door rings upon vehicle entry and exit) have been executed for a flush, finished appearance. This was achieved through welding techniques that ensure a cleaner surface in these areas, while minimising sealing between sheet joints.
A blend of technology, convenience and family-friendly practicality
- Dual cockpit design with black leather seats and white interior accents
- Two 7in screens replace traditional instrument panel
- Heated front seats and automatic climate control system standard
- Park assist and rear view camera as standard
- Up to 1,005 litres of luggage space
Inside, the Volt offers the space, comfort and convenience features customers expect of a technologically advanced passenger car.
“We wanted to convey a feeling that was upscale and sporty, yet somewhat relaxed in character,” said Bob Boniface, Director of Design for the Volt. “So, we incorporated high-quality trim and materials that are more casual in nature, yet help deliver the comfort, convenience and features of a premium car.”
The Volt has Chevrolet’s signature dual cockpit layout, black leather seats and white cabin accents. Among the key interior features are two large screens that provide essential information and help the driver take advantage of the convenience offered by the Volt.
The Chevrolet Volt comes with an electrically powered cabin heating and air conditioning system and heated front seats as standard. A comprehensive infotainment package, including digital audio broadcast and navigation system, as well as ultrasonic park assist and a rear view camera, is also fitted as standard.
Flowing lines and high-tech aesthetics
A dual-tier upper instrument panel wraps around the front occupants and complements the vehicle’s cockpit layout. The two tiers are separated by a distinctive layered accent that flows from the base of the windshield, through the upper instrument panel and into the door panels. LED-based interior lighting accentuates the Volt’s refined, upscale interior.
Two interactive 7in high-definition colour screens provide a radically new driving interface. One is the Driver Information Centre, a reconfigurable graphic cluster display that replaces conventional instruments in front of the driver. The information displayed includes vehicle speed, driving efficiency, battery charge and driving range, fuel level and extended driving range, oil life and tyre pressure.
The second 7-inch screen functions as the primary interface for all infotainment, navigation, climate control, power use, efficiency data, battery charging and parking camera functions. Its faceplate features a clean, clear design and touch-sensitive controls.
The only conventional buttons or knobs are the ‘power’ button for starting the vehicle, driving mode selection, electric parking brake actuation, doors lock/unlocking, hazard warning actuation, and two rotary controls for audio and radio menu selection.
Sound system and infotainment options
Every European Volt comes with Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. The AM/FM stereo and CD player is MP3 capable, includes steering wheel controls, and an aux-in connection. The system seamlessly connects, charges and controls iPods and other MP3 players through a standard USB port.
Electrically powered cabin heating and air conditioning
The Chevrolet Volt is equipped with single-zone automatic climate control (ACC) with an electric cabin heating and air conditioning system. The vehicle’s heating, cooling and ventilation are controlled via the climate touch screen display in the centre console.
Electrically powered cabin heating and air conditioning ensure interior comfort in a wide range of ambient conditions. Should temperatures drop to extremely low levels, a full heating and defrost capability is maintained by automatically engaging the petrol engine, even if the battery has adequate power to drive the vehicle. The system includes solar and humidity sensors that help the climate control system adjust fan speeds and temperature for optimum comfort.
The air conditioning compressor is electrically powered at all times, dispensing with the need for a belt drive from a running engine. A coolant heater control module is an essential element of the hybrid heating system. It is the default provider of heat to the cabin, but will disengage whenever the engine coolant is warm enough to supply the required heat.
Heated front seats are standard in the Chevrolet Volt. An automatic heating function can be engaged or disabled via the climate touch screen. In automatic mode, the seats will heat as required by the cabin temperature setting, which also takes into account the prevailing outside temperature. In fact, heated seats are a more efficient way of warming up the cabin, as the occupants can immediately sense the effect.
Alternatively, seat heating can be manually operated by touch-sensitive on/off controls on either side of the centre console, offering a choice of three heat settings. Manual selection will always override the automatic heating function if selected via the climate control touch screen.
The Volt’s split rear seats fold flat, while dedicated storage compartments sit in the upper instrument and door panels. There’s even an umbrella pocket and bottle holder. In addition, a covered recessed storage compartment is in the rear cargo area (310/1005-litre capacity, seats up/down), which also houses the charging cable. The spacious glove box has an opening lever within easy reach of the driver. All four door pockets are large enough to hold a 1.5-litre water bottle and those in the front also include a recess for additional stowage.
There are three 12V auxiliary power outlets: in the storage compartment on top of the instrument panel; the centre storage bin; and in the rear storage bin alongside the cupholders. The USB/aux input sockets with pass-through channels for cables, as well as twin cupholders, are also in the front centre storage bin.
Gearshift lever operation
A shift lever on the centre console operates the Volt’s electric drive unit functions much like an automatic transmission. The shift position is illuminated in the Driver Information Centre:
• P (Park) locks the front wheels and should remain engaged when pressing the starter button to activate the propulsion system. Provided the foot brake is applied, the lever is moved from Park by pressing the shift button.
• D (Drive)is selected for normal driving. If more power is needed for passing, and the vehicle is travelling at less than 35mph, the accelerator pedal should be pressed about half-way down. At higher speeds, it should be pressed all the way down.
• L (Low)is a comfort feature that reactivates regenerative braking. As soon as the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal, the generator is activated to recuperate energy for storage in the battery pack. The car decelerates with a G-force of up to 0.2 – sufficient to make it unnecessary to press the brake pedal in many instances.
• R (Reverse) can be selected only when the vehicle is stationary.
• N (Neutral) disconnects the propulsion system from the wheels.
Rear-view camera and park assist
The front and rear ultrasonic park assist system uses four sensors on the front and rear fascias. These integrated sensors send out ultrasonic waves when the vehicle is driven forward or reverse at low speeds. The sending sensor and adjacent sensors pick up the echo of a signal when it bounces off an object in the path of the car. A warning sound notifies the driver of front/rear object proximity.
A rear-view camera is mounted on the underside of the rear number plate recess and works in conjunction with the front and rear ultrasonic park assist feature to ease parallel parking. Images are viewed in the centre console display.
DRIVING THE VOLT
Chevrolet Volt redefines efficient driving and simplifies life at the wheel
- Choice of four driving modes: Normal, Sport, Mountain and Hold
- Driving efficiency gauge helps drivers operate Volt at most efficient level
- Central screen provides wealth of information on energy use
- Climate control system has three operating modes
Volt drivers can rely on a number of intuitive, easy-to-use features that help conserve energy and maximise the vehicle’s range. While efficient driving in the Volt is similar in principle to efficient driving in a conventional vehicle, this car takes the process much further.
Two main selectable driving modes, two additional settings
The Volt is designed to function in all conditions without compromising performance. Normal mode is the standard setting, activated each time the car is started to provide maximum efficiency in most driving situations. Sport automatically reconfigures the accelerator pedal response to provide a quicker torque application for sporty driving. While Sport mode does not provide a higher full power output, it does provide a more direct response to driver inputs.
Hold is useful when driving in restricted emissions zones, such as urban areas and city centres, where emission charges might apply. Hold enables the driver to preserve the full energy stored in the battery pack. For example, when driving a long distance before entering a city, this mode activates the petrol engine at the start of the journey, even if the battery is fully charged. When entering the city limits, the driver can switch to Normal and take advantage of the vehicle’s fully charged battery’s 25-50 mile range, thus avoiding congestion taxes.
Mountain ensures sufficient battery energy for prolonged driving on steep roads, when vehicle performance could otherwise be compromised. The mode changes the default settings to sustain a sufficient state of charge so supplemental power is available from the battery if required. The driver should select this mode 10 to 15 minutes before starting a long uphill climb at higher speeds to enable full vehicle capability. Frequent use is not expected, but it will be handy when suitable conditions arise.
Driving efficiency gauge
To help maintain optimum operation, the Driver Information Centre’s efficiency gauge displays a spinning ‘leaf’ ball. Ideally this is green and in the centre of the image. Under heavy acceleration, the ball turns yellow and moves upwards, indicating that the vehicle is accelerating too hard to achieve optimum efficiency. If the driver brakes aggressively, the ball turns yellow and moves downwards. The ball stops spinning when the vehicle is stationary.
The Volt’s advanced friction brake blending system, which maximises the energy generated during braking and deceleration, is completely imperceptible to the driver. It allows for maximum regenerative braking through the electric motor, recharges the battery when decelerating, and seamlessly engages the friction brakes when the pedal is stepped on harder for a fast stop.
The centrally located touch screen, meanwhile, provides additional information on energy use, as well as efficiency tips via three energy information displays that can be activated by the Efficiency switch:
• Energy Usage shows data on all drive cycles since the battery was last charged. This includes the distance travelled in battery-powered and extended-range modes, total kWh and fuel consumption, and average fuel economy. Drivers can also check the ‘Lifetime Fuel Consumption’ of their Volt.
• Energy Efficiency shows data over the most recent drive cycle, based on driving style and interior climate settings.
• Efficiency Tips include driving advice to improve energy use for greater fuel economy and optimum driving range. For example, using seat heating instead of turning up the cabin temperature in cold weather saves battery energy.
The display also shows the flow of energy in real time between the battery, the electric drive unit, the range-extender and the wheels.
Energy-saving climate control system
The driver can optimise the Volt’s driving range by selecting the Eco button in the climate control touch screen. The air conditioning and heater will operate to achieve the desired temperature setting while conserving as much energy as possible, although the adjustment will not be made as quickly as in Comfort mode. Alternatively, the driving range can be extended by selecting the Fan Only button, which switches off the air conditioning and the heater.
Battery energy can be saved and interior comfort increased by starting the Volt’s climate control system and conditioning the cabin while the vehicle is being charged. Electricity is drawn from the main supply instead of the battery pack, maximising the battery’s driving range as well as preparing a warm or cool cabin at start-up. This function includes window defrosting/defogging and can be started 10 minutes before departure via the vehicle recharging menu or by remote control on the key fob.
Intelligent charging reduces costs
Volt owners can save money by deciding at what time of the day the car recharges its battery. The Volt is able to calculate the charging start time based on the utility rate schedule, utility rate preference, and the programmed departure time. The vehicle will use the cheapest rate to achieve a full battery charge by departure time. In order to take advantage of this function, electricity rate information from the utility company is required.
BATTERY DESIGN & CHARGING
Volt’s battery offers durability, flexibility and quick charging times
- Choice of four driving modes: Normal, Sport, Mountain and Hold
- Driving efficiency gauge helps drivers operate Volt at most efficient level
- Central screen provides wealth of information on energy use
- Climate control system has three operating modes
Developed by GM and battery cell supplier LG Chem, the Volt battery pack is one of the first lithium-ion units offered on a high-volume production vehicle. It is produced at GM’s plant near Detroit, the first dedicated facility of its type in the US built by a major car manufacturer. The Volt battery is designed to provide value, safety, quality, reliability, performance and durability.
Compact, weight-saving and efficient design
The T-shaped, 198kg pack has a storage capacity of 16kWh. It sits in the centre tunnel of the vehicle, and is protected by ultra-high-strength Martensite steel. The battery comprises nine linked modules containing 288 prismatic lithium-ion cells, each of which functions as a building block.
Each cell is 13x18cm and less than 6.5mm thick, weighing about 450g. It contains a carbon anode (negative electrode), manganese cathode (positive electrode) and a safety-reinforced separator, the medium that isolates the electrodes, while still allowing electrically charged ions to transfer between the elements in each cell.
Lithium-ion was chosen over nickel metal hydride because it packs up to three times the power in a much smaller package. It also offers more configurability, suffers little loss of charge when not in use and is less prone to “lazy battery” syndrome, when batteries gradually lose their maximum energy capacity from repeated recharging after being partially discharged.
The battery’s prismatic cell design and manganese spinel lithium-ion chemistry is designed to provide long life and high power output, with a properly maintained temperature. This enables better vehicle acceleration and regenerative braking capability, improving vehicle efficiency.
The Volt’s battery cells are encased in polymer-coated aluminium housings. They are thermally efficient, safe and designed to withstand extreme heat, cold or dramatic temperature shifts. It is included in an eight-year/100,000 mile warranty which covers the Voltec propulsion system.
Reliability under extreme conditions
Because batteries can be sensitive to temperature changes, the Volt’s battery pack is climate-controlled: an active liquid control system continually monitors and maintains pack temperature. It works by circulating coolant and distilled water through a series of internal heat exchangers in each cell.
The Volt features the only mass-produced battery that can be warmed or cooled. It is designed to provide reliable operation during charging at temperatures as low as -25°C and as high as +50°C. In cold weather, the battery is preheated during charging to provide full power capability. In hot weather – the most challenging environment – it can be chilled during charging. The thermal management system can also be powered during driving, either in electric or extended range mode.
A management system continuously monitors the battery, running more than 500 diagnostics at 10 times per second. Of those, 85 per cent ensure the pack is operating safely, while 15 per cent keep track of battery performance and life.
In order to maintain the battery’s life for as long as possible, it is never fully charged or discharged. Instead, it operates within a safe state-of-charge window of 65 per cent. In demanding situations (such as driving in Mountain mode), the battery state of charge will raise the lower limit to ensure there is adequate power.
Recharging: fast and easy
The standard six-metre long charging cable stows neatly under the rear cargo floor. For optimal charging, charging stations must be installed by a qualified electrician. Using a standard power outlet, owners can fully recharge the battery in six hours.
The Volt can be charged in three ways. In “immediate” mode, charging begins as soon as the vehicle is connected to an electrical outlet. The centre-console screen indicates mode, plus estimated time of completion. In “delayed departure time” a departure time is selected via the touch-screen, and charging is automatically completed in time for a scheduled departure.
For the third mode, Volt owners can save money by choosing when the battery is recharged. The Volt can calculate the charging start time based on the utility rate schedule, utility rate preference, and the programmed departure time. The vehicle uses the cheapest rate available to achieve a full battery charge by departure time. To use this function, rate information from the utility company is required.
Intuitive and safe charging experience
When the Volt is plugged in, a charging status indicator in the centre of the instrument panel indicates:
• Solid green: Vehicle is plugged in, the battery is charging but not fully charged
• Fast flash green: Vehicle is plugged in, the battery is not fully charged and will begin charging at a later time (delayed schedule)
• Slow flash green: Vehicle is plugged in and the battery is fully charged
• Solid amber: Vehicle is plugged in, but the charging system has detected an error and will not charge the battery.
The standard portable charge cord pack is equipped with LED status indicators that illuminate green or flashing red to identify the charge cord status. When all indicators are green, the vehicle can be charged. If any are flashing red, the charge cord will not permit vehicle charging due to the voltage being out of range or the electrical outlet not having a proper safety ground.
CHASSIS, STRUCTURE AND SAFETY
Strong body structure key to excellent handling and safety performance
- Rigid chassis ensures taut, responsive handling
- Quick-acting, rack-mounted electric power steering
- Advanced, electro-hydraulic regenerative braking
- Full complement of safety technologies
- Effective insulation against noise and vibration
The Volt has been designed and engineered to deliver an engaging and responsive driving experience. It benefits from a rigid body structure, carefully tuned suspension, advanced steering, braking and the latest chassis control systems.
The Volt also provides excellent protection to its occupants. Thanks to its extremely strong integral structure, the vehicle ensures outstanding crashworthiness. About 80 per cent of the body structure is constructed of high-strength, advanced high-strength or ultra high-strength steels.
A number of dedicated tests were performed to ensure the safety of the battery, including its watertightness. In an emergency, the battery pack can easily be disconnected by rescue services.
Several renowned institutions have confirmed the Volt’s excellent safety performance. In April 2011, the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Volt its Top Safety Pick while the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the car a five-star rating.
Taking advantage of the Volt’s stiff structure, engineers applied a range of measures to isolate the cabin from engine, road and wind noise. Again, the results were impressive: The Volt’s airflow measurement is among the lowest of any Chevrolet vehicle ever built – only 34m3/h or 20ft3 per minute.
A solid foundation and finely tuned suspension
The Volt derives much of its agile road manners and driving comfort from a solid, stable foundation, including an integral structure with main underbody rails running continuously from front to rear. Its advanced, high-strength steels add strength, yet conserve weight.
The Volt has a wide track (1,546mm/1,573mm), a long wheelbase (2,685mm) and a low centre of gravity, thanks to the floor-mounted 198kg battery pack. Another factor contributing to a low centre of gravity and responsive driving is the layout of the Volt semi-independent rear suspension that accommodates the fuel tank between the rear wheels. With its double-walled U-shape profile at the rear, it combines the advantages of a conventional torsion-beam axle with low weight and consistent camber control.
The McPherson strut front suspension uses forged aluminium components for reduced weight and nimble, responsive action. The struts incorporate cold-formed front springs that reduce weight and rebound at a quick frequency. Both suspension assemblies have hydraulic ride bushings, a refinement more often reserved for luxury vehicles.
Made of forged aluminium, the Volt’s 17in wheels weigh a mere 8.1kg each. Special low-rolling-resistance tyres were developed for Europe, providing optimum electric vehicle range, feel, dynamic performance and reduced noise.
High-tech steering and braking systems
The Volt features a rack-mounted electric power-steering system. The dual-pinion system also has variable assist. A combined electric motor and sensing unit monitors steering angle, and delivers appropriate assist to the steering gear in all scenarios.
The Volt’s electro-hydraulic brake system enables 100 per cent regenerative braking (e.g. recharging the batteries during braking events), 100 per cent friction braking (traditional disc braking), or any combination of each.
During regenerative braking, the system converts G-forces to electrical power, then stores the energy in the battery pack if needed. If the battery is fully charged, the brake controller directs the system to conduct friction braking.
Regenerative braking can provide up to 0.2g of deceleration, which covers about 94 per cent of braking events. Braking that involves more than 0.2g of deceleration is a combination of regenerative and friction braking. The system is highly sensitive to driver inputs. During a panic stop, the system changes to 100 per cent friction.
The Volt comes with standard chassis control systems, including anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), and traction control. The Volt’s standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control system (ESC) uses electronic brake and traction control capabilities to provide precise, controlled anti-lock braking performance as well as exceptional traction and yaw stability.
Since the Volt is extremely quiet when being driven on battery power, it has a chirping sound that can be activated by the driver to warn pedestrians of its approach.
Comprehensive occupant protection
The full-length rails and safety cage are in a single welded unit. The safety cage is reinforced with tubular-section members that frame door openings and support the roof. The battery pack is located in the centre tunnel of the vehicle and protected by Martensite steel, while energy-absorbing zones at the front, rear and sides deform in a controlled fashion to help dissipate high impact forces.
Eight airbags are fitted in the Volt as standard:
• dual-stage driver and front passenger airbags
• driver and front passenger knee airbags
• head curtain airbags above both seating rows
• front seat-mounted side airbags
Tip-up sensors predict tip-up on a flat surface and apply brake force to the outside front and rear wheels to reduce lateral force in the vehicle. Together with the Volt’s electronic chassis control systems, they help to prevent an incident from occurring in the first place.
Engineered to deliver a relaxed ride
Numerous measures throughout the car are designed to deflect road and drive-system noise away from the cabin. A common source of noise occurs in chassis-to-body structure interfaces. The Volt has an isolated front cradle, with hydraulic mounts between the cradle and the structural members coming off the front motor rails and the dash, to which the cradle is mounted. This minimises road and drive-system noise and vibration from transferring to the cabin.
Born and built in the US – Volt is a showcase for Chevrolet’s innovation and engineering
Unlike perhaps any other car, the Chevrolet Volt represents America’s modern engineering and high-tech industry. The Volt is manufactured in Michigan, where a host of activities ranging from battery assembly and engine production to die engineering are carried out.
In late July, the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant reopened after a four-week shutdown during which the facility was upgraded to enable increased production of the model year 2012 Volt. An anticipated 60,000 examples will be built this year.
“While the advanced technologies in vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt have the potential to address global transportation challenges, they have deep roots in the US, particularly in the state of Michigan, the birthplace of the American automotive industry,” said Diana Tremblay, Global Chief Manufacturing Officer with GM North America.
The recent installation of a photovoltaic array on the roof of its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant illustrates that the process of innovation continues, and involves the entire production chain. The solar panels help offset the energy consumed during the production of the Chevrolet Volt.
Key US-based GM facilities include:
Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly: GM invested an initial $336m to prepare this plant for future products, including the Volt. To reduce waste and leverage flexible manufacturing techniques, some production equipment was repurposed from other facilities and installed in the Detroit-Hamtramck body shop.
Brownstown Battery Assembly: The Volt’s 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack is assembled at this 15-hectare assembly facility, which consists of three primary assembly areas: battery module pre-assembly, final assembly, and the battery pack main line. GM invested $43m in the plant which is owned by GM Subsystems Manufacturing LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors.
GM Global Battery Systems Lab: This facility houses on-site testing of all current and new battery cell, module and pack technologies. It opened in 2009, with an investment of $25m. In early 2010, GM invested an additional $8m to double its size. The expansion added capability in safety and abuse tolerance, such as crush, penetration, water immersion, overcharge, discharge and short-circuit tests, build-up and teardown, manufacturing engineering, charger development, thermal development and storage.
Flint Engine South: GM invested $202m in Flint Engine South in Flint, Michigan, for production of the 1.4-litre, four-cylinder engine for the Volt and a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine for the Chevrolet Cruze.
Flint Metal Centre: GM invested $30m to refurbish press lines that produce sheet metal stampings for the Volt.
Flint Tool and Die: This facility was responsible for the construction and tryout of stamping die sets for the Volt programme. About half the dies for the Volt were designed here.
Grand Blanc Weld Tool Centre: GM invested $30m to build the robotic weld tool cells that assemble the Volt body at Detroit-Hamtramck.
Bay City Powertrain: Camshafts and connecting rods for the Volt 1.4-litre four-cylinder generator will be built at this facility in which $37m were invested.
In addition to GM facilities, battery cell supplier LG Chem and its subsidiary, Compact Power, constructed a $304m battery plant in Holland, Michigan. So the Volt uses battery packs and individual battery cells made in the US.
The Volt has already won some key industry accolades, including European Car of the Year
The Volt has proved itself to be as popular with the critics as it has been with buyers, becoming the world’s most award-winning car ever. In the course of three years, it has received over 30 key industry awards – including the prestigious 2012 European Car of the Year title. It is also the only car to win Car of the Year awards on both sides of the Atlantic.
• 2012 European Car of the Year
• Green Car Vision Award by the Green Car Journal
• North American Car of the Year at the 2011 NAIAS
• Motor Trend 2011 Car of the Year
• Automobile Magazine 2011 Automobile of the Year
• MotorWeek 2011 Driver’s Choice Best of the Year
• Car and Driver 10 Best for 2011
• 2011 Edison Award
• Highest-rated compact for 2011 J.D. Power and Associates APEAL Study
• Car of the Year in Denmark 2012
• Consumer Reports Volt #1 in Owner Satisfaction
• Named “2011 Collectible Car of the Future” by Friends of the National Automotive History Collection (NAHC)
• Environmental Grand Prize 2009 Festival International Automobile
• World Green Car announced at the 2011 New York Auto Show 2011
• Green Car of the Year awarded by Green Car Journal
• MotorWeek 2011 Best Eco-Friendly
• Chicago Auto Show Best Green Vehicle Technology awards
• Ward’s AutoWorld 10 Best Engines for 2011
• SAE 2011 Best Engineered Vehicle
• Top Michigan Innovation in 2011
• Edmunds 2011 Green Car Breakthrough Award
• Popular Mechanics 2010 Breakthrough Technology
• Popular Mechanics Top 10 Vehicles Award
• Popular Science Best of What’s New 2010
• Top Safety Pick by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
• National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Five-star overall score
• Euro NCAP Five stars (out of five) in all categories
• Best Electric Car awarded for 2012 resale value by Kelley Blue Book
|Voltec electric propulsion system|
|Type||electric drive unit|
|Output||kW / hp||111 / 150|
|Type||rechargeable energy storage system|
|Case||glass-filled polyester structural composite with aluminum thermal radiation shield and steel tray|
|Thermal system||liquid active thermal control (warming or cooling)|
|Energy (installed capacity)||kWh||16|
|Charging time (at 240V/10A household socket)||hrs||six hours (actual charge times may vary)|
|Range-extender engine||1.4 ECOTEC|
|Emissions standard compliance / fuel||Euro 5 / petrol|
|Number of cylinders / valves per cylinder||4 / 4|
|Bore x stroke||mm||73.4 x 82.6|
|Block material||cast iron|
|Cylinder head material||cast aluminum|
|automatic drive unit, electric motor, eletric motor/generator|
|Drive performance and range|
|Maximum speed (electronically limited)||mph||99|
|Acceleration 0 – 60mph||seconds||9.0|
|Typical electric range||miles||25-50**|
|Total range (extended + electric range)||miles||over 300|
|Electricity consumption (Electric driving in NEDC)*||kWh/100 km||16.9|
|Fuel consumption (combined and weighted)*||mpg||235|
|CO2 emission (combined and weighted)*||g/km||27|
|Length / width (inc mirrors)/ height||mm||4,498 / 2,126 / 1,439|
|Track, front / rear||mm||1,546 / 1,573|
|Headroom (front/rear)||mm||960 / 915|
|Shoulder room (front/rear)||mm||1,435 / 1,369|
|Leg room (front/rear)||mm||1,068 / 866|
|Cargo volume (rear seats back up / down)||l||310 / 1,005|
|Cargo volume, behind second row, to top of seats||l||310|
|Cargo volume, behind second row, to headliner||l||385|
|Cargo volume, behind the first row, to the headliner||l||1,005|
|Kerb weight / Gross vehicle weight||kg||1,732 / 2,000|
|Battery pack cooling||l||7.0|
|Power electronic cooling||l||2.9|
|Engine oil w/filter / drive unit fluid||l||3.50 / 8.45|