Next-Gen Volt ‘should be the first’ in US to get GM’s 1.0-liter Three-Cylinder

One Achilles’ heel endured by the Chevrolet Volt’s otherwise exceptional powertrain has been it is not a complete home run in the eyes of would-be buyers.

Sure it can go months between fill-ups if kept within its 35-40 mile electric range – twice that of the next-nearest plug-in hybrid – but it gets 37 mpg on premium gasoline which is 74 percent the fuel efficiency of a 50 mpg Toyota Prius which takes regular.

But this week another believed-reliable report was posted from Paris stating the next-generation Volt ought to be the first recipient of GM’s highly efficient 1.0-liter ECOTEC three-cylinder turbo engine.

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A version of the engine is being displayed this week in the revised Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, and Automotive News’ GM Reporter Mike Colias wrote a blog post titled, “What the new Opel Corsa and next-gen Chevy Volt have in common.”

“The Volt should be the first U.S. car to get the three-banger when the next generation of the plug-in hybrid goes into production in late 2015, sources have said. It’s likely to go into the redesigned Chevy Spark as well, also scheduled for a late 2015 or early 2016 launch,” wrote Colias.

As industry observers know, word of a 1.0-liter three-cylinder as the Volt’s next generator is not new, but just to level set everyone, General Motors has not so much as confirmed the next-gen Volt will be a 2016 model, although this too is widely believed.

On the contrary, GM posted a press release this week saying the new Volt is “one of the automotive world’s best kept secrets,” so any report you may have read saying the new Volt unequivocally “will” have X miles range, or this feature, or that, is unconfirmed.

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All news of the redesigned car intended to beat the Prius at its own game have come from reasonings about statements made by GM executives, or other industry “sources” which may or may not be accurate.

But given that Automotive News’ designated reporter for the GM beat says what he says, adding to previous statements, when the new Volt is revealed January in Detroit, its new generator ought to be the 1.0.

And all this would make sense. Ford already has a 1.0-liter three cylinder EcoBoost engine doing primary propulsion duties in non-hybrids, and other automakers such as BMW are also going to three-cylinder turbos. Automotive News further observes that consolidating engine models across global product lines enables production efficiencies and cost savings for the automaker.

That would dovetail with statements GM’s former global product chief and present CEO Mary Barra said in 2013 and also fit with her just-announced plan to grow General Motors and streamline its entire operation.

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The Volt’s current 1.4-liter four cylinder generator used since late 2010 was chosen when GM was on the ropes financially and politically, and chosen as the best compromise then available.

But the 1.0-liter could help narrow perceptive shortcomings when put into service as a designated “genset.” Its job will be to keep the Volt’s batteries charged as the Volt operates primarily like a series hybrid that runs only on its electric motors, although it is not a pure series hybrid.

Among other plug-in hybrids, the Volt is unique in that if you remove its electric motors, it cannot run.

But even if it can today be bought within Prius price territory by way of a $269 lease, or by recouping federal and/or state incentives, it hasn’t been a no-brainer for longer-distance drivers.

Can GM fully or nearly rectify that situation? It’s believed that is the plan.

Automotive News