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2015 Chevrolet Volt unexpectedly gets increase in battery capacity, range

Everyone seems to be holding out for the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, the model year due for a significant redesign. Yet even the unheralded 2015 model has received an unexpected improvement.


Nobody really expected much out of the 2015 Chevrolet Volt. After all, the big redesign is coming next year to rejuvenate GM’s flagship plug-in hybrid. This year’s model wasn’t supposed to receive any notable changes.

A first report by Inside EVs has now been confirmed, however – the 2015 Chevrolet Volt will receive a small boost in battery capacity and corresponding electric range.

This year’s edition of the world’s best-selling plug-in hybrid gets a little bit better with 17.1 kWh of battery capacity, up 3.6% from the previous model’s 16.5 kWh.

A subtle yet noticeable increase

Considering the 2014 model year had about 10 kWh of usable capacity, the assumption that the additional 600 Wh will all be “usable” capacity yields a potential 6% increase in all-electric range. To your average Chevrolet Volt driver, this theoretically increases the car’s 38-mile electric range to just over 40 miles.

However, GM submitted the old figures for range and efficiency from the 2014 version. Still officially rated at 38 miles of electric range and 98 MPGe in EV mode, the 2015 Chevrolet Volt obviously will exceed the given range thanks to the increased battery capacity.

It may not be by much, and not all owners will notice a difference. This is undoubtedly why the move was made with little publicity and without a stated increase in range, but the slightly larger battery will certainly have an impact.

GM referred to the upgrade as “an engineering change in the battery cell.” Manager of electrification technology communications Kevin M. Kelly acknowledged that despite the unchanged EPA ratings, GM expects that “some customers may see a slight improvement in overall EV range.”

Given Ford’s recent EPA ratings debacle, this as close to a definitive statement as we could expect from General Motors. Volt owners will experience an increase in range, most likely about 2 miles.

The 2015 Volt gets a barely discernable price decrease compared to the outgoing model. It can be had for $34,170 before delivery charges and a $7,500 federal tax credit and applicable state incentives. As ever, though, we are holding out for the 2016 model year.


John Goreham    July 17, 2014 - 9:58AM

Good story. These are the real EV battery stories. Small, incremental, constant improvements. The EV is mature now and those expecting "1000 mile" batteries are right, but they may never live to see it. A 3% change in efficiency or range is in line with what gasoline powered cars see for improvements every few years as well. A 3% improvement in a typical medium sized sedan is 1 MPG. They add up.

mike w (not verified)    July 17, 2014 - 8:27PM

YEs john they do add up. Also noticed that GM may change the Volt's inverter to a more efficient and cheaper unit. That change will add a little to the cars electric range also.