GM Insider Says 2014 Chevy Volt Will Get a New Engine

Just days after GM might have slightly cannibalized Chevy Volt sales for the next couple of months by announcing a tweaked battery and other updates due in August, an insider reportedly let the cat out of the bag that 2.0-liter turbo engine will be introduced by summer 2013 for the 2014 model.

Since their respective launches, the extended-range electric Volt and Opel/Vauxhall Ampera siblings have relied on an 83-horsepower 1.4-liter generator mated to electric propulsion for a combined 149 horsepower, 273-pound-feet torque. But that four cylinder is “definitely not” going to make it to 2014, according to an anonymous source at GM speaking to Inside EVs.

The 1.4 was reportedly always considered a compromise pressed into service at a time of limited/frozen budgets when GM was undergoing bankruptcy restructuring. If the info leak is correct, the now better-funded company will select for the gasoline portion of the powertrain something closer in general specification to the 260-horsepower, 2.0-liter (GM-sourced) turbo engine Fisker uses in the Karma – although a better-engineered design.

The 2.0-liter Ecotec Turbo in question – currently rated at between 220-270 horsepower – has “been thoroughly vetted” and “will most likely” be the 2014 replacement, said Inside EVs today.

This more potent powerplant would possibly also call for an upgraded electric motor and the improved gas-electric powertrain would also be used in the pending Cadillac ELR which GM has said will rely on the Volt’s powertrain, and which is positioned as a sleek, high-line corporate halo.

No speculation/news by the GM insider was reported as to possible updates to the 2014 Volt’s battery pack, or what should be specifically expected regarding range, or other performance parameters from the more powerful powertrain.

In any event, since it has also been leaked that the Cadillac ELR will launch in 2014, updating the Volt’s powertrain for that year would make all the more sense to fit with the sporty image portrayed by the extended-range Caddy that would compete with Fisker’s six-figure extended-range Karma.

The 2.0-liter Ecotec believed to be in the most-favored status at the moment will be used in the pending Buick Verano as well, and Inside EVs quoted GM Global Chief engineer for Ecotec engines, Mike Anderson, who praised the engine that already sees duty in the Buick Regal GS.

“Our continuously variable valve timing is tuned to work in tandem with direct injection and twin scroll turbocharging to achieve optimum fuel economy, lower emissions, and instant performance when needed,” he said. “Having 295 pound-feet (400 Nm) of torque available over a wide range of engine speeds makes for a very exciting driving experience.”

Of course, if utilized the in the Volt, Ampera siblings, and ELR, the 2.0 Ecotec Turbo engine that was awarded by WardsAuto as one its “10 Best Engines,” would be tuned for use as a generator for the plug-in cars. It nonetheless promises to spice up performance, or it could be optimized to help extend range, or offer a combination of both.

As would be expected, GM refused to confirm or deny truth of the news leak of the 2014 engine, citing the usual policy of not commenting on future product, so this is officially a rumor until further notice.

Inside EVs

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  • Loboc

    Lets see. 295 PLUS 273 from the electric motor looks to be enough torque for a street racer. SS anyone?

  • MrEnergyCzar

    What was the horsepower for the current Volt engine before it was tuned to be used as a 83 hp generator?


  • c_harnett

    Has GM gone mad? The Volt doesn’t need a 200+ hp range-extender, it needs to lose 600 lbs and gain a fifth seat.

    To cool it at that kind of power output, they’ll have to rework the grille, probably with active shutters (more $cost and weight). Bigger radiator (ditto). Can they even get it under the hood of the existing car?

    This *must* be a mistake.

  • Old Grumpy

    Will someone help me out here? Why would G.M. put a larger engine in the Volt when all it does is run the generator! I would think you would want a larger electric motor or battery, and the smallest most efficient engine you could get. If they put a small turbo in the Volt just to keep it fully charged would not the driving range increase? Maybe I am missing something here.

  • Roy_H

    I can see this for the performance oriented Cadillac ELR, but not for the Volt. Maybe this is a decision made on economics of production where carrying two sizes of motors is not worth while. So does the 2.0 take up more space? Is it heavier? Maybe only the ELR version will have the turbo.

  • sculptor

    The 83 hp ICE works quite well (even in mountain driving) and I think the Volt would be best served concentrating on improving the battery range. Though, I will admit ICE technology is improving and it would be it would be a mistake to ignore that but if they use it to sport up the Volt instead of improve the Volt then that would be a worse mistake.

  • kmack

    I don’t think this will be for the volt.

  • David

    I would rather see a diesel (bio-compatible) or CNG option.

  • Van

    Hi Old Grumpy, while it is true that early on, GM claimed the ICE did not drive the wheels, later they fessed up, it does. So their power-split transmission actually works like the Toyota Synergy Drive, with enough differences to avoid patent infringement.

    Early on they were trying to develop a 1 liter engine to drive the generator, but as the article said, they shifted and put an available 1.4 engine in, which gets a dismal 37 MPG. Sometimes going with a little bigger engine will result in higher gas mileage.

    This is a pure guess, but perhaps the 2.0 liter engine in a non-turbo version will be used in the Volt and the turbo version in the Caddy.

    But I certainly agree with you, in general it seems a smaller (lighter) engine like the original Insight engine coupled with a larger more powerful electric motor and battery offers improved performance.

  • dutchinchicago

    I am not even sure that it needs a bigger electrical motor. I am very pleased with the acceleration I am getting from the car right now.

    It would be a shame if they try to turns this car into a muscle car at the expense of efficiency.

    Most people hardly ever use the ICE engine so the less weight we have to carry around the better. I really hope that this story is not true. I am assuming that this 2.0L engine is heavier than the 1.4L engine which might be wrong.

  • chad

    I agree with Van. The third generation of the prius did the same thing (from a 1.5L to a 1.8L). They claimed that the larger engine displacement produced more torque. This in turn allowed them to run the engine at a lower RPM which reduced fuel consumption.

    Although the result might be a heavier car. I doubt the all electric range will take a hit. Why would they raise it by three miles just to lower it the next year? Or this rumor could just be dead wrong. What I want to know is when they will put an E85 engine in there. From what I read it was suppose to be announced in the 2013 model year.

  • Ben_G

    Don’t forget Chevy is also working on a plug-in version of the Cruze, which will probably replace the Volt in the mass market. So, the Volt will likely move upscale.

  • perfectapproach

    In general, when you increase the power of the generator, you can increase the amperage of the electrical output. This translates to faster charge rate. TBH, it’s probably NOT because of performance, although that is a nice side effect. Rather, it’s probably to maintain the electric range with a more powerful electric motor sucking electrons faster from the batteries.

  • Anonymous

    I hope this project is for a other model ,not the Volt.
    The Volt will gain from reducing Price and Weight.

  • disbsam333

    Holy crap, why does everyone here suddenly become an engineer asking stupid questions about engine size and what not? If GM’s genius engineers could figure this car out, I am pretty sure they know what the next engine upgrade should be. And 2.0 is not a big engine, its just a tiny bit larger than the 1.4. And BTW people, the Vette’s 7.0L gets better MPG than the 1.3L rotary Mazda engine.

  • Gerri Sanduscki

    I think it would be a good idea for a Corvette to have an electric motor but keep it a secret so people would think you’re being awesome when really your just saving gas.