My Predictions for the next Volt Generation

Word has spread that the GM’s new compact car platform is being worked on, named “D2XX” (for now at least). The current “Delta” platform underlying the Volt and the Cruze compact cards will make its final appearances in the 2014 model year vehicles, making way for this new platform in the 2015MY vehicles.

GM’s goal is to design the platform so that in addition to traditional compact cars, it can also accommodate the small-SUV category – currently filled by cars like the Equinox in the US.

So this leads us to believe that The Next Generation Volts are likely to arrive at the end of 2014 for the 2015 model year vehicle. What will it be like? While I will put down exact numbers, its pretty difficult to figure exactly what they’ll do two years from now, so figure a plus/minus 5% after each number I write.

First is the battery size and rage. I’d expect the new Volt to have a 17kWh, 11kWh usable Li-Ion battery. The battery will provide for a 40 mile EPA rated range, and 40-45 mile real-world range, with much better cold/warm wether performance than the first generation battery. Improvements in the battery’s ability to perform under varied thermal conditions, as well as upgrades to the vehicle’s electric heating and cooling system will reduce the range variation significantly from the first generation. The battery pack itself will be more space and weight efficient compared to the original 2010 Volt. The current pack is about 200kg, or 435 pounds for 16kWh. The new battery pack will weigh approximately 140kg for 17kWh, increasing the pack-level Wh/kg from 80 to 120. The cells themselves are likely to be around 180-200Wh/kg but the pack and cooling system and weight overhead to the cells. This will also reduce the volume of the battery from 100L (160 Wh/L) in the current model to 70L (240 Wh/L) in the second generation. Again the batteries themselves will be more volume efficient, but the pack wiring and cooling adds overhead.

This reduced weight and volume allow the 5th seat to return to the Volt. The battery will likely be stored under the bench of the rear seat, as well as into the trunk like the current model. I’d expect the Volt battery to be made in rectangular segments (similar to the top of the current battery’s “T”) with various segment lengths. This will allow the battery platform to be more modular.

The range extender will likely get a little bigger too, though not that much bigger. Probably 1.6L up from 1.4L now, along with direct injection to make burning fuel more efficient. I’d expect an gas MPG around 43-45, and a slightly smaller gas tank (8.5 gallons) for a gas-only range of 380 miles, up from 360 today.

I don’t expect the Volt to get any larger, at least not until the third generation where battery efficiency gains another 50% or more (sometime around 2020). However we will see follow-on models like an small SUV style vehicle with another modular row of batteries underfloor to give it 35-40 mile range despite increased size, weight, and aerodynamic drag. Likewise, this vehicle will get a slightly bigger gas tank as well.

The biggest factor in all this of course, is price. By 2015 I’d expect that the current tax credit will expire, and the volume of cars will have picked up enough (~50K/yr) where they can bring the price down in a meaningful way – probably around $30,000 (in 2012 USD). The small SUV style vehicle will probably be $6,000 more.

What to expect with the new iPhone (“iPhone 5”)

Things we’re sure of

  • 4″ Screen (in-cell)
  • New Design

Things I’m sure of

  • LTE on Qualcomm’s MDM9615+WTR1605L chipset
  • 32nm application processor (A6), fast dual core (1.5GHz)
  • International LTE (on EU-800 and EU/Asia-1800), but no worldwide LTE roaming (international roaming will be restricted due to 3G due to the different models needed to accommodate the various LTE worldwide bands)
  • IGZO screen for better battery life It appears that Sharp wont be delivering any IGZO screens until 2013. The good news is they had live demos showing IGZO screens using 60% of the power of a regular screen (1.86W vs 1.1W for a 7″ display). It appears the first IGZO screen will probably end up in the iPad 4 in Spring 2013 (and the battery will go back to 25-30Wh).
  • T-Mobile support (if not initially, eventually – definitely by end of Q2 2013)
  • China Mobile support (655M customers, again if not initially, eventually, expect before Chinese New Year)
  • 5GHz WIfi support (802.11n)

Expected Battery Specs

  • 12 Hours talk time (3G, since there is no VoLTE networks running yet)
  • 7 hours LTE data
  • 9 hours HSPA/CDMA data
  • 10 hours Wifi data
  • 10 hours video (H.264)

Most of the factors that go into this are that the processors are fabricated on a smaller lithography (28 and 32nm) and the IGZO screen cuts its power consumption by 50%. This is why the battery is only slightly larger instead of a lot larger than the previous generation.

Radio Configurations

US GSM: Lower 700 (Band 12), 850 MHz, 900MHz (for international 3G), 2100 (for international 3G), PCS (1900), AWS (1700/2100), WCS (2.3GHz)

US CDMA: Upper 700 (Band 13), 850 MHz, 900MHz (for international 3G), 2100 (for international 3G), PCS (1900), AWS (1700/2100), BRS/EBS (2.6GHz)

EU/Asia (Japan/Korea): 800MHz (digital dividend), 850 MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, PCS (1900), 2.6GHz

  • The phone as-is wont support Sprint’s eventual LTE iDEN network. This would require a third US model since it would replace Upper 700 (Band 13) with the iDEN band.
  • The radio configurations don’t allow international LTE roaming, just 3G.
  • China Mobile may end up using the EU/Asia model, but probably reconfigured slightly such that it can use TD-SCDMA (may or may not require new hardware, probably not but we’ll see).