Leaked Volt image or Perry Ellis Casual Collection from J.C. Penny; you decide
In advance of the official “unveiling” of the Chevrolet Volt next week, official pictures of the production Plug-in Hybrid car have surfaced on the internet. Apparently Robert Novak is also in charge of GM’s press materials. Although obscured by various GM officials posing as if in the next print ads for the Mens Wearhouse, the concept has a more muted design than was on display when first presented at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2007.
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In fairness to GM, they acknowledged at that time that they would likely not carry the same design from the concept to the showroom. GM claims that a vendor made a mistake and released the photos, but many, including us, are thinking GM is most likely trying to gently (or quite unabashedly) hold the public’s interest until the car goes on sale in 2011.
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As the pictures indicate, much of the distinctive style of the concept has been replaced with the contours that are already represented in the Prius and Civic. Not surprising given GM has to balance both the costs of production and the aerodynamics needed to extract maximum efficiency from the batteries. Data released last spring from GM confirmed that aerodynamics play a larger role in the car’s mileage than weight, which undoubtedly contributed to the redesign. The Volt design team is spending a significant amount of effort in wind tunnels to minimize the wind drag, which can account for 20 percent of a car’s energy. The Volt is powered by an electric motor, with a small backup conventional gas engine used to extend the range on longer trips. The Volt can still drive up to 40 miles without the engine kicking in and it is aided by a regenerative braking system to recapture energy otherwise lost under deceleration. For short distances and commutes, the car is intended to run on battery power alone and recharge at night when plugged in. With both gas and batteries the Volt is expected to have a 400 mile driving range. While mostly unrecogizable from theconcept, some design elements appear to have made it through to production including the narrow rear lights, aerodynamic wing mirrors and the high, coupe-like rear trunk.
"I designed this part of the car. No, it's not a clip-on."
The Volt’s powertrain system, named E-Flex, will ultimately be used in other models from General Motors because of its flexibility in use with a variety of powerplants to power the battery pack including diesel and ethanol engines, or even a fuel cell. More details about the Volt will be revealed next week at an event celebrating GM’s centenary.