Chevy Volt Design Details Slowly Emerge

Chevy Volt Design Details Slowly Emerge

Bob Boniface, director of design for the Volt, showed side-by-side comparisons between the concept and the production vehicle. (Photo: John Voelcker. All rights reserved.)

Chevy Volt Design August 2008
Chevy Volt Design August 2008

Traverse City, Michigan – Continuing to tease the public and the media with details on the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the car’s designer today showed a handful of slides that revealed further details of the car’s design. The entire car won’t be revealed until the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

Bob Boniface, director of design for the Volt, showed side-by-side comparisons between the concept and the production vehicle. The front corners are now much more rounded, to keep the airflow attached to the sides of the car as much as possible, minimizing energy-sapping turbulence. The side mirrors are now on posts, rather than so-called patch mountings, and the shape of the rear spoiler has been modified significantly.

Perhaps most interesting, the Volt’s mesh “grille” is actually no more than a pattern screened onto plastic. The cooling for the vehicle’s heat-generating elements—the battery pack, the electric drive motor, the power electronics, and so forth—is distributed so differently from that in a conventional car that all frontal airflow can be directed around to the sides of the car.

Overall, Boniface said, airflow improvements have taken out 120 “counts” of aerodynamic drag, each count imposing a range penalty of roughly 0.025 miles in the city and 0.055 miles on the highway. In other words, those improvements have added 6 to 7 miles to the production car’s all-electric range. He did not, however quote a coefficient of drag.

Missing from the presentation was the overall shape of the car, which is likely to be taller and blockier than the concept shown in January 2007 at the Detroit Auto Show.

Boniface also showed a picture of the instrument panel center stack that will be used in the production Volt. The shiny white plastic panel has few actual switches; instead, most of the controls are activated by “capacitive touch” switches that sense light pressure from a finger.

Does that remind you of any particular digital-music device? Any resemblance to Apple’s iPod is, no doubt, purely intentional.

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  • Bryce

    Glorious! Yea, I have been hearing rumors of interaction between Apple and this program for that advanced but simple feel. SImply Beautiful. : )

  • MilwaukeeT

    I’m not from Missouri, but SHOW ME…. then I’ll believe

  • Bryce

    In November, we can all see it.

  • 38MPG

    What is good on a music player/cell phone is NOT good on a car. The driver must be able to use controls in a car with out looking away from the road. Which means, traditional 3 dimensional controls are good on a car. May be GM can give away an Apple iPod along with all the Volts that they sell. But pleaaaaaaaase keep the ordinary controls in Volt, for the sake of safety on our roads.

  • Al

    Without substantial tax credit, this $40K white elephant won’t fly. They won’t be selling more than 10,000 units a year unless price comes down to $30K.

  • Elliot

    Is that a Corvette?!

  • BEW

    Anybody heard GM quoate a price range yet? Any guesses?

  • Shines

    Let’s see… How about this Hypothetical example: If I spend $30 a week on gas for commuting, grocery shopping, taking my kids to little league etc. (this is in my 4cyl Toyota Camry) And every day I am driving no more than 40 miles, then I could do the same in the Volt and use no gas. thats a savings of 1560 a year lets say for just 5 years is a savings of $7800. Any guess on how much my electric bill will go up every month to charge my volt? I’m going to say about $40 a month for extra electricity. Over 5 years = $2400
    7800 – 2400 = 5400. $40000 Volt – fuel savings = 34600 – $7000 Govt rebate? = 27600. If the Volt is midsized that’s not too bad an investment (especially if you value no polution!)…
    Yes I know there are all kinds of variables and other issues that would complicate this example, but it points out that if the Volt can deliver 40 miles a day without gas, a $40K price (with a govt rebate) isn’t too far out of line…

  • Bryce

    Between $30k and $40k

    $7k tax credit though hopefully will take car of the premium though. : )

  • Collin Burnell

    I agree with 38MPG! For safety reasons flashy, unfamiliar, touch slide controls would be a bad idea. I bought an iRiver e10 MP3 player for my car because it has (4) simple buttons. Drivers are already too distracted!!!

  • Paul Beerkens

    The 2011 Volt is it now? What happened to 2010? Competing with the 2010 Prius might have been doable but giving Toyota till 2011 to come up with a Volt beater might be unfortunate.

  • bcurry_2000

    They have always said that production will begin in November of 2010 do you really expect them to call it a 2010 Volt when it won’t hit showrooms until December 2010 at the earliest?

  • Bryce

    From the beginning it has been said it will be released as a “2011” vehicle even though you may start to see some on lots within the year of 2010. This is normal though as the next years models begin to eke their way onto lots towards the end of the year and there are always big sales to get rid of the old ones.

  • gok

    Al people were purchased/leased SUV’s that cost over 40,000 why not a sedan that will save on your monthly gas bill.

  • JH

    Hey Bryan and Bryce – your both wrong …..
    2010 was the first year – check out this link:

    and start reading downwards….. you can see that the date continually slides… from 2009 at one post to 2011 back down to 2010 – at one point Lutz said 2010 “was always the goal.”

    I’ll believe it when I see it….. also why a $7K tax credit for that car and no others? Our Camry was fully loaded @ $33K – if I could take $7K off of that … I’d do it in a heartbeat. If the government is propping up one manufacturer over another I am fairly certain there will be legions of lobbyists scurrying around DC like ants on a dropped lollipop!

  • Skeptic

    Vaporware …

  • Bryce

    The late 2010 goal has always been the case. (It would be silly though to release it under the 2010 marker though with a month or two left in the year. Cars are released the year before there actual year designation) It would be ridiculous for even a conventional vehicle to have a two year development period (2007-2009)

    As far as the tax credit, the Prius and Camry already had their credits alotted to them and have outgrown them. The hybrid Camry comes in at 26,500ish (give or take a few bucks there) and the 33k price tag you had to pay was the results of options that you chose. The 7k tax credit proposed by Mr. Obama and McCain has been for any electric/plug-in electric and not for a simple parallel hybrid and the advanced li-ion battery that would be required with such a vehicle. It is not manufacturer specific and is open to any company that develops and sells such a vehicle. The thing is, currently it is only GM and some small start-ups that are the only ones releasing such vehicles. The 7k tax credit won’t last forever for each vehicle, and as sales go up, it won’t really be necessary coupled with economies of scale. Tax credits are for advanced fuel saving tech, not for leather seats and GPS navigation. : )

  • Walz

    JH not sure if I understand your reasoning for the give way 7K idea. Your Camry w/c Im sure is very nice is not a EV. The idea is to promote and develop markets for any EV/long range hybrid. Didn’t Toyota and other hybrid buyers receive tax breaks. It took a few years before the Prius became a profitable adventure for Toyota. While not sure what the true cost of producing a Volt will be I’m sure its not going to rake in the money. We have to promote this risk by using tax breaks.

  • Bryce

    Don’t you see, we should totally subsidize his leather seating so that we can limit the pollution of those evil cows……ROFL. This is really a silly argument. Can you give us something more substantial than your leather addiction for reasoning for a tax credit.

  • Walz

    No Bryce you are wrong. We should totally subsidize the least efficient V-8 we can find for his car. Then he can make more stops at his favorite gas station to purchase lots of yummy beef jerky 🙂

  • Bryce

    That’s ridiculous…..rofl…..we should see if we can get government funding to put in one of those V10 Triton engines from Ford into his Camry so that his jerky expeditions will be complete with a $100 fill-up. Subsidies, leather seats, and V10 Triton turbo diesels for everyone!!! rofl…..o man, if I were JH, i would pretty much hate Bryce right now…….lol. It is good to be me. : )

  • Armand


    You’re not factoring in the $5K dealer mark-up….trust me….it will be huge.

  • Armand

    And another thing….the hell if I’ll spend over $20K for a car…people are going crazy spending $30,40K for a car….just the monthly payments alone will be well in excess of $800-900 with insurance…

    For a freaking car?


  • Crut100

    What planet are you from? A Nissan Maxima is over 30K, a Ford Escape Hybrid with the feautures you actually want is over 30K and any car you really, really want is closer to 40K than $30K. This car will FLY off the dealer lots if it can deliver what it is claiming. I can tell you will be buying one if it can do what GM is saying it can do.

  • Bryce

    It looks beautiful to me…..and even if it proves to be too pricey for me, there is always the new Chevy Cruze, or this new Honda inexpensive hybrid. Obviously it will be no where as advanced as or efficient as the Volt, but as far as money saved, any of these will prove to be great. Gotta love competition. : )

  • Armand

    You don’t even know how efficient the Volt is going to be…so it’s rather ridiculous for you to assume it’s going to be any better than its competitors.

    One thing I can say about the competitors is that their products actually exist….which makes them 100% more efficient than anything GM has.

  • Bryce

    100% times zero is still zero! lol

  • Shines

    Dealer markup?!?
    Noz, didn’t I add: Yes I know there are all kinds of variables and other issues that would complicate this example, but it points out that if the Volt can deliver 40 miles a day without gas, a $40K price (with a govt rebate) isn’t too far out of line…

    Dealer markup – jeeze Noz you’d think car salesmen had a bad reputation for being sleezy and dishonest. Car dealerships must be the the most honorable and respectable institutions in America. How can you even think they would mark up the price of a hot selling car? The only people I can think of more honorable than car salesmen would be lawyers.