• The 2013 Volt's range on electricity alone increases from 35 to 38 miles
  • The hatchback's "miles per gallon equivalent" rating will also increase slightly
  • Chevrolet says the updates will result in slightly longer charge times

The 2013 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid will get a slight boost in electric range and EPA-rated fuel economy, Chevrolet has announced. According to the automaker, the 2013 Volt's fully electric range will jump from 35 to 38 miles, while the hatchback's EPA-certified "miles per gallon equivalent" fuel rating is also expected to increase slightly.

Chevrolet says the 2013 Volt's improved range and increased fuel economy ratings will mean slightly longer charge times, but it's unlikely that most owners will mind. That's because the Volt will have nearly 10 percent more range-a surprisingly big improvement that will allow Volt owners to go further on each charge.

According to the automaker, this is made possible by an increase in battery storage capacity from 16 to 16.5 kWh. Chevrolet also says the Volt's "state of charge" window uses a higher portion of the battery's total energy, meaning longer charge times but more energy capacity. Charge time increases only slightly , from 10 to 10.5 hours using a 120-volt outlet or from four to 4.25 hours with 240 volts.

"The best way to explain what we've done is to compare it to a cake batter recipe," said Bill Wallace, director of global battery systems engineering for General Motors, Chevrolet's parent company. "Sometimes ,if you use more sugar and less vanilla, you get a better-tasting cake. We've done some work at the cell level to modify the ingredients to make a better end result."

The Chevrolet Volt uses an electric motor that's mated to a "range extending" 1.4-liter gasoline engine. At its debut in late 2010, the Volt saw high demand and considerable media excitement, but interest in the hatchback slowed to a trickle late last year. After Chevrolet announced incentives in early 2012, sales picked up again, totaling 1,680 units in May, nearly 1,500 units in April and all the way up to 2,289 sales in March.

What it means to you: Updates to the 2013 Volt will allow owners to drive the car longer on fully electric power, one of the hatchback's major selling points.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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