The Chevy Volt is still months away from hitting showrooms, but that hasn’t stopped people from speculating on the next generation of Chevy’s plug-in hybrid. Will it make the jump to a fully electric vehicle? Will they make a sportier SS version? Will anybody actually buy the Volt? These are just some of the questions people are asking.
Some of the focus has been on the range-extending engine, which as it stands is a smallish, 4 cylinder, 1.4 L Ecotec powerplant which can recharge the batteries on the fly. But will they stick with the conventional engine, or go with something… different. Like a rotary engine, or perhaps even a diesel?
It is no secret that the Chevy Volt isn’t going to be cheap…most estimates place the car’s price around $40,000 before a $7,500 Federal tax credit. Even $32,500 isn’t all that cheap —especially considering its main contender, the Nissan LEAF, is going to be 25K after the tax credit. Sure, the Volt promises up to 40 miles on electric-only power, plus a range extender which means the car can travel over 300 miles on a tank of gas which will be more alluring to some people than a pure battery car, but the engine packaging is quite expensive and requires heavily regulated emissions controls, and GM is already testing ways to bring the costs down.
One such idea is using a single-rotor rotary engine. Mazda popularized the use of these engines in their RX-7 sports car, but the engine did not present enough of an improvement to overtake standard overhead camshaft or pushrod engines. But, rotary engines are smaller, and GM engineers think a single rotor would provide enough power for the Volt’s generator. On the flip side, a rotary engine would consume more fuel. So GM is also considering a small, two-cylinder engine, or perhaps even a diesel.
For me, the diesel presents the most logical option. Even small diesel engines make lots of torque, and can easily deliver upwards of 50 mpg. And Americans want more diesel engines.
What do you guys think? Two-cylinder, diesel, or rotary engine for the next Volt?
Source: Inside Line | Image: GM