Electric range is obviously a crucial specification for battery-electric cars, but the upcoming 2016 Chevy Volt shows that plug-in hybrids too can benefit from bigger batteries that provide more electric miles.
The EPA data released today for the 2016 Volt rate it at 53 miles of electric range, significantly higher than the 2015 model's 38-mile rating--and a bit of a boost on Chevy's earlier promise of "at least 50 miles."
Unlike other plug-in hybrids, the Volt will run entirely on electric power for the full capacity of its battery before switching on the engine.
That means, Chevy says, that owners of the second-generation Volt will run entirely on battery power for nine out of every 10 trips they take.
On longer trips, once the engine switches on, the 2016 Volt carries an EPA rating of 42 miles per gallon combined when operating essentially as a conventional hybrid after the battery is depleted.
The previous Volt was rated at 37 mpg.
GM's extensive data on how drivers of first-generation Volts used their cars over five years shows, it says, that many owners routinely exceed the rated electric range. That will likely be most true for those driving in temperate climates and at lower speeds.
Only one other vehicle with both a plug-in battery pack and a gasoline engine has a longer electric range than the 2016 Chevrolet Volt.
That's the BMW i3 REx, which has a 72-mile electric range from its battery. A gasoline tank of less than 2 gallons then gives the i3 REx a further 78 miles from a small two-cylinder range-extending engine that switches on to generate electricity that powers the drive motor.
The Volt has a total range of 420 miles on its battery and gas tank combined, however, versus the 150 miles delivered by the little electric BMW.
First deliveries of the new 2016 Chevy Volt will likely happen next month in California, followed by a rollout to other areas of the U.S. during the rest of the year.