Chevrolet isn’t quite ready to show us the 2016 Volt hybrid yet – that’ll have to wait until the Detroit Auto Show next month – but that doesn’t mean it won’t tease us with the prototype undergoing cold weather testing. Expected to drive faster, for longer, and more efficiently than the current electric/gas car, the new Volt has been tearing up the snow and ice as its powertrain and chassis get put through their paces to make sure frosty conditions don’t put the dampeners on how useful the eco-friendly model might be.
Now, admittedly, there’s not a huge amount of actual information we can glean from the video itself: Chevy seems more interested in kicking up snow and swerving on ice than telling us exactly what happens to things like range and efficiency when the weather gets cold.
Still, given the range of temperatures EVs and hybrids need to face out in the real-world, there’s no denying that this sort of testing is particularly vital. Batteries generally aren’t happy when they’re cold, holding less charge; if that means your hybrid spends more time with its gas engine running, you’re losing out on at least part of the benefit of having an electric system onboard too.
Under the skin, it’s Chevrolet’s new Voltec powertrain keeping things going. Detailed back in October, it’s a redesign of the original Volt’s propulsion system based in no small part on feedback as to how drivers of the car were actually using it.
So, there are fewer battery cells but they’re each higher capacity, dropping weight and – thanks to lower mountings – the car’s center of gravity too.
Meanwhile, a more efficient and lighter electric motor should see a 20+ percent increase in acceleration, and the whole system has become less complex, with fewer rare earth-type magnets involved and the system that routes power between the batteries and the drive unit being integrated.
The result, so Chevrolet claims, will be a more refined car as well as a faster and more economical one, and that will presumably be carried over to whatever Cadillac decides to do with the second-gen ELR.