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2016 Chevrolet Volt debuts in Detroit; new Bolt adds yet more EV motoring to GM’s line-up

Detroit, MI — Strange that upon the release of the next-generation Chevrolet Volt debuted at this year’s North American International Auto Show, the first impression is that of a car that actually looks a little more retrained than the previous model.

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Perhaps it’s an admission by GM that the Volt was a little too out there; Kia, for example, is building an EV version of the Soul that doesn’t look as far removed from its gas-powered cousin, so those who like EV power but aren’t enamoured with EV looks have an option.

At any rate, the new Volt looks more compact, a little more aerodynamic and more in-keeping with the rest of Chevy’s line-up; it’s what’s underneath, of course, that makes all the difference in the world.

It features what Chevrolet calls the second generation of the Voltec system, but it remains an EV with a range-extending petrol motor for when you run out of juice or need a brief extra kick of power. The EV motor features an 18.5 kWh battery developed in conjunction with LG Chem, and even though it maintains a longer charge (GM is claiming 80 km of pure-EV driving), it has less cells that sit lower in the battery pack for a better centre of gravity and more stability; they also help contribute to 100 kilos in weight savings. The new Volt also gets more cargo space, and more room for rear-seat passengers. That’s good, because you can now fit three back there,

And, when the battery does eventually run out of juice, a new GPS-based charge system allows users to set a time for the Volt to start charging once it’s plugged in (thereby keeping it away from peak-power periods) and ensure that the Volt is ready to go at the same time each day, a schedule that only has to be programmed once. A new charge indictor seen through the windshield makes it easier to determine the level of charge at any given time.

Finally, we can say “goodbye” to those large power chords that take up such a large amount of trunk space; the new Volt features a more compact charge chord that gets its own storage bin on the left in the rear cargo area.

From the Volt to the Bolt

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80 km of EV power not enough for you? Then how about over 320? That’s what Chevrolet is claiming for the Bolt Concept, also making its world debut in Detroit. The Bolt allows drivers to choose from pre-determined operating modes made to suit different driving styles, from around-town commuting to faster weekend drives.

Styling-wise, the Bolt obviously has the burgeoning micro-MPV segment—populated by the likes of the Mazda5 and Kia Rondo—squarely in its sights. It provides a nice, tall greenhouse  made to look all that more futuristic thanks to its windshield being stretched into a full-length glass moonroof. There’s a bit of BMW i3 here—especially in the wheels—but I’d say thha GM has actually done a better job of pulling this off, unless you like the uber-futuristic (but sometimes awkward) looks of the i3.

Like said i3, the Bolt is constructed from a composition of materials, including aluminum, magnesium and carbon fibre. Cool stuff.

At this point, GM is saying the Bolt wcan be had in 50 US states as well as “many global markets”, but if it does arrive in Canada, expect to be paying around 30 grand after rebates for all the EVing you can handle.

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