Chevrolet’s second-generation Volt extended-range electric sedan has finally landed, making its debut in Detroit on the eve of the city’s annual auto show. The new Volt goes on sale later this year as a 2016 model and brings with it a much sleeker and sexier shape as well as an improved powertrain.

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Thanks to a completely revised ‘Voltec’ powertrain, the 2016 Volt boasts an all-electric range of 50 miles, up from the outgoing model’s 38 miles, and with the in-built range-extender owners can travel roughly 420 miles without having to make a stop. Remember, the Volt isn’t designed as a direct competitor to battery-powered electrics like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S. Instead, its range-extender, a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, means you never have to worry about being stranded as you can simply fill up at any gas station.

But in addition to more range, the 2016 Volt’s powertrain also offers better acceleration than the one in the outgoing model, and it’s more efficient to boot. The car’s T-shaped lithium-ion battery is rated at 18.4 kWh and has 20 percent extra capacity on a volume basis. This has allowed designers to reduce the battery’s mass by 30 pounds while also changing the packaging to help lower the center of gravity. This has come at a cost, however. Charging using a standard 120-volt plug (more than half of Volt customers today) increases to 13 hours from 10 hours.

The car’s dual electric motors were also made more efficient and refined. The new drive unit is said to be between 5 and 12 precent more efficient than the unit it replaces, and it’s about 100 lbs lighter too. The greater efficiency is mostly due to the fact that the 2016 Volt can use either a single motor or both, depending on power demand. The 0-60 mph in the 2016 Volt takes 8.4 seconds, which is a 7 percent improvement over the outgoing model. Fuel economy, meanwhile, comes in at an impressive 41 mpg and 102 mpge, up from the outgoing model’s3 7 mpg and 98 mpge.

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Inside, the new Volt includes seating for five. More trim colors are available and the controls are more intuitively placed and simpler to operate. The Volt retains its signature dual digital displays with an eight-inch reconfigurable screen in the instrument cluster to relay driver information. An additional eight-inch touchscreen in the center of the instrument panel controls the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system.

Sales of the 2016 Chevy Volt commence in the second half of 2015. The all-important pricing details should be announced closer to the sales launch, and word on the street is that we may see a price reduction on the 2015 Volt’s $35k pre-incentive price tag.

Though it’s yet to be confirmed, we could see Chevy unveil in Detroit this week a concept version of a new battery-powered electric sedan being developed to take on the upcoming Model 3 from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA]. The sedan is rumored to be called the Bolt and have an all-electric range of about 200 miles. For more Detroit Auto Show coverage, head to our dedicated hub.


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