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The 2016 Chevrolet Volt – which could be brought to Australia for a second term as the Holden Volt – has been unveiled in full on the eve of the 2015 Detroit auto show.

The more streamlined new small plug-in hybrid sedan has been completely rethought, according to General Motors, with “everything from charging the battery and checking the charge status, to the intuitiveness of instrument panel controls” redesigned for better ease of use. It also gets five seats rather than four.

Chevrolet claims the new-generation Volt has better pure electric range in the US, stated at 50 miles (80 kilometres), up from 36 miles (58km) for the US model.

2016 Chevrolet Volt

In Australia, Holden claimed up to 87km range for the previous model (we saw 63km indicated range on a recent test of the Holden Volt). An Australia-specific figure for the new model has not yet been made public.

General Motors has stated the new model offers better driveability, including improved acceleration. The new model can zip from 0-30 miles per hour (48km/h) in 2.6 seconds, according to Chevrolet, a 19 per cent improvement; while a 0-6omph (0-96.6km/h) sprint is taken care of in 8.4sec, down seven per cent. Its top speed is rated at 98mph (158km/h).

The Volt receives a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol motor which can now run on regular unleaded fuel rather than premium juice. Chevrolet claims owners who charge their cars regularly can expect “more than 1000 miles” on average between petrol fills. With a full charge on board and a full tank of fuel, GM claims the new Volt will be capable of covering 676km, up from 560km in the previous model.

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That new 1.5-litre engine is slightly larger than the one in the previous Volt (a 1.4-litre), and produces 12kW more power, at 75kW. It can only spin up to 5600rpm, though, and is designed more as a generator than for power delivery.

The Volt’s new electric drive unit – which features two motors – is claimed to be 12 per cent more efficient and 45kg lighter than the unit used in the first-generation Volt, and the new electric drive unit can produce a total 45kW of “generating” power – or 111kW of “motoring power”, according to GM – and 398Nm of torque.

The lithium-ion battery system is lighter – it uses a 192-cell unit rather than the existing 288-cell system, resulting in a weight advantage of 9.8 kilograms – yet has greater capacity at 18.4kWh, up from 16.5kWh. Backing up the batteries will be GM’s Regen on Demand system, which allows the driver to control how much energy the Volt is recuperating by way of a steering wheel-mounted button.

According to Chevrolet, the charging time required for the Volt using a standard 240-volt outlet is 4.5 hours – down from the six-hour claim of the current model.

Chevrolet has equipped the new-generation Volt with a range of standard safety items, including a standard reverse-view camera and 10 airbags. Other items that will be offered (possibly as options) include lane keeping assistance and lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning and auto-braking, and a semi-automated parking system similar to that seen in the Holden Commodore.

The all-new Chevrolet Volt is set to go on sale in some markets in the second half of this year. Stay tuned for news on the prospects of the car in Australia, as Holden has yet to reveal if it will sell the new-generation Volt here.

Over the course of 2014 a total of just 58 Volts were sold in Australia.