When the Chevy Volt debuted, it’s combination of a gas-powered generator and electric motor drive system won the hearts and minds of many (though not all) car critics. But one weak spot has always been the so-so fuel economy averaging 36 mpg when the generator is running. GM plans to remedy that with a fuel-sipping three-cylinder engine in the next-gen Volt.
The current Volt utilizes an off-the-shelf 1.4 liter four-cylinder generator making 84 horsepower and an electric motor that boosts total output to 149 horsepower. The Cadillac version of the Volt, the Cadillac ELR, has slightly more power at 207 ponies thanks to a beefier electric motor. Both generators return about 36 mpg once the battery needs charging, which compared to some competitors like the C-Max Energi and Prius Plug-In, falls short.
GM is working to replace the 1.4 cylinder four-banger with a 1.0 or 1.2 liter three-cylinder engine. Three cylinder engines are gaining popularity both in the U.S. and abroad as new engine technology makes these efficient powerplants more reliable and powerful. GM is no doubt hoping to push its mpg numbers beyond 40 with the next-generation Volt, and a smaller engine would go a long way towards that goal.
Source: Hybrid Cars