The battery pack is approximately 30 pounds lighter than the module used in the current Volt and Cadillac ELR, with a lower center of gravity and 30-percent fewer individual cells.
Despite the reduction in the raw number of battery cells, storage capacity on a volume basis has been improved by 20 percent. The company suggests the revised system will provide even more electric range. Unconfirmed reports suggest electric-only distance could jump from 38 miles to 50-60 miles.
“It would have been simple for us to tweak our existing battery to provide nominally increased range, but that’s not what our customers want,” said Larry Nitz, director of GM Powertrain’s electrification engineering team. “So our team created a new battery system that will exceed the performance expectations of most of our owners.”
The system will also utilize a slightly larger 1.5-liter gasoline engine, which will automatically operate in more driving scenarios — both in EV and extended-range mode — to improve acceleration.
The company will release full details in January, when the 2016 Volt is officially unveiled at the Detroit auto show.