MATT CAMPBELL June 15, 2012
Holden's hybrid Volt could get a bigger petrol engine with triple the power of the current one.
Holden’s first hybrid car could be in line for a power boost.
According to online forum Inside EVs, a General Motors insider confirmed plans to ditch the current 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine found in the Volt and swap it for a bigger, more powerful 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo when the car is updated in 2013 (for the 2014 model year). The site claims the engine was “never the first choice of engineers” – a 1.0-litre three-cylinder was the choice for the Volt concept – and Inside EVs says the 1.4 only made it because of the company’s bankruptcy woes in 2009.
The Volt is designed to use its petrol engine purely to generate power for the car’s batteries, and it can also be plugged into a powerpoint to recharge its batteries. In pure electric mode it can travel up to 80 kilometres; when it uses the petrol engine as a generator it can go for 600km.
The current 1.4-lite petrol engine is a turbo-less version of one of the powerplant as is seen in the locally built Cruze small car. It produces 55kW of power in the Volt, but the new 2.0-litre turbo is expected to be good for at least triple that, with reports stating a power output of between 165kW and 200kW. The bigger engine is seen in several GM products, including the upcoming Opel Insignia.
As well as higher displacement from the petrol “range extender” engine, the new drivetrain is expected to get a bigger electric motor – both of which combined would significantly increase the combined power output of the car.
Holden's executive director of engineering, Greg Tyus, says the rumours of the search for more power are surprising.
“The Volt has a generator that charges the batteries so that would be interesting because (more power) is not the intent of that motor,” Tyus says. “I don't know what they're doing but I would be surprised (if it was true). I would say you'd be looking at ways to get more range from the vehicle, that would be the priority.”
There has not been any further announcements from General Motors.
The Volt hybrid is due on sale here later this year, with pricing expected to be around the $60,000 mark.
If the Volt does get a bigger, more powerful engine, it won’t be the first hybrid to do so. The Toyota Prius used to be powered in part by a 1.5-litre petrol four-cylinder, which in 2009 was replaced by a 1.8-litre with almost 30 per cent more power.
Honda’s Civic Hybrid also received a bigger engine – it went from a 1.3-litre to a 1.5-litre in its 2012 model change – but oddly the power output actually dropped 3kW (but torque rose by 2Nm).