GM Has Oopsie, Releases Production Volt Images Early
By Chris Haak
Today, GM accidentally posted several high resolution photos of the exterior of the forthcoming (early in the next decade, two years from today) Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle. Sharp-eyed Marty Padgett of The Car Connection spotted the images on a media information website, and apparently there was no embargo restriction on them. The production Volt was supposed to make its debut next week to GM employees and select journalists (none from Autosavant, unfortunately), so GM subsequently pulled the photos down from the website. However, because there was no embargo, scores of other media outlets have reproduced the photos without consequence from GM.
The only problems with the photos is that there are none with the car alone (every one released has a GM executive posing with the car) and there are none of the car’s interior. While the production Volt retains the same color and many of the same styling cues of the concept car, production and aerodynamic realities forced GM to tone down the January 2007 concept car’s design significantly. The hints that point at the Volt concept are all there – black trim beneath the windows to mimic the extended windows of the Volt concept, a fender vent that connects to the leading edge of the front doors, etc. – but the production car bears very little resemblance to the concept.
And you know what? That’s actually OK. I’ve never been a huge fan of the design of the Volt concept, believing that it was too squared-off and had proportions closer to those of a muscle car (long hood, short deck) than of a gas-sipping high-tech vehicle. GM had previously released a Volt teaser image that showed the production car’s front end, which features a “fake” grille that likely remains closed except when the internal combustion engine is running to improve aerodynamics. The production Volt also has a much higher cowl than the concept does, and features a far more conventional profile than did the concept; aside from the black paint beneath the side windows, the greenhouse could easily be on any number of generic four-door sedans.
For those not paying attention to all of the hype and coverage that the Volt has received since January 2007, the car is going to be sold as an electric vehicle (and is supposed to be able to travel up to 40 miles on batteries alone with no need for its internal combustion engine to start). Once the ICE starts, that engine will simply recharge the batteries that power the car. GM has said that Volt production will begin around November 2010, so that’s more than two years from the date they showed the “production” Volt to the world for the first time (which, allegedly, was accidental). The car was originally supposed to be priced below $30,000, but GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz has said that he expects it to be closer to $40,000 – if not more – at this point, unless GM can convince the government to hand out generous tax credits to buyers to help reduce the cost. Initial production will be in fairly limited numbers, but GM hopes to scale up production of the so-called E-Flex architecture underpinning the Volt with derivatives in Opels, Saturns, and possibly Cadillacs in coming years to reduce its CAFE/CO2 footprint.
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