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Live From The Detroit Auto Show: GM Shocks The Car World With The Volt

Published Jan 7th 2007, 9:22pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

Naias_2007_1 General Motors is certainly causing a stir of interest at this year’s Detroit show and you can feel the electricity in the air. They announced today that they have a new concept vehicle,  the Chevrolet Volt, which is powered by the E-flex System – GM’s next-generation electric propulsion system.

The Chevrolet Volt is a battery-powered, four-passenger electric vehicle that uses a gas engine to create additional electricity to extend its range. The Volt draws from GM’s previous experience in starting the modern electric vehicle market when it launched the EV1 in 1996, according to GM Vice Chairman Robert A. Lutz.

Chevyvolt_mtns The Volt can be fully charged by plugging it into a 110-volt outlet for approximately six hours a day. When the lithium-ion battery is fully charged, the Volt can deliver 40 city miles of pure electric vehicle range. When the battery is depleted, a 1L, three-cylinder turbocharged engine spins at a constant speed, or revolutions per minute (rpm), to create electricity and replenish the battery. They even developed a lighter plastic material to be used for the vehicle, to counter the heavy weight of the battery.

What is great about this vehicle’s system is that it can run on multiple fuels. Besides the electric charge, it can be converted to run on biodiesel, E85, gasoline, and even fuel cell energy! Now, THAT is a real flexible fuel vehicle.

The car was driven out onto the platform by a woman, Anne Asensio, who is  also one of the designers on this vehicle, and Bob Lutz. The car, stated Anne, was designed with a 27-year-old woman in mind.

Chevyvolt2 The vehicle is not only proof of GM’s full-fledged commitment to alternative fuel technology, but is an incredibly stylish and well-designed offering. It has an incredible interior with great storage and fantastic zippered compartments (the zippers light up when it’s dark so you can see them easily).

And just look at the car! It’s absolutely sexy and stylish. It has a powerful stance, without looking beefy and macho. It’s sleek and sophisticated; something every woman would love!

Jodydevere_8 by Jody DeVere
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Check out the details from GM's Press Release...

GM’s E-flex System moves automobile toward new electric age
GM’s E-flex System enables multiple propulsion systems to fit into a common chassis, using electric drive to help the world diversify energy sources and establish electricity from the grid as one of those sources.

“The DNA of the automobile has not changed in more than 100 years,” said Burns. “Vehicles still operate in pretty much the same fashion as when Karl Benz introduced the ‘horseless carriage’ in 1886.

“While mechanical propulsion will be with us for many decades to come, GM sees a market for various forms of electric vehicles, including fuel cells and electric vehicles using gas and diesel engines to extend the range. With our new E-flex concept, we can produce electricity from gasoline, ethanol, bio-diesel or hydrogen.

“We can tailor the propulsion to meet the specific needs and infrastructure of a given market. For example, somebody in Brazil might use 100-percent ethanol (E100)

to power an engine generator and battery. A customer in Shanghai might get hydrogen from the sun and create electricity in a fuel cell. Meanwhile, a customer in Sweden might use wood to create bio-diesel.”

The Chevrolet Volt is just the first variant of the E-flex System. The Volt uses a large battery and a small, 1L turbocharged gasoline engine to produce enough electricity to go up to 640 miles and provide triple-digit fuel economy. GM will show other variations of the propulsion systems at future auto shows.

“GM is building a fuel cell variant that mirrors the propulsion system in the Chevrolet Sequel (fuel cell concept),” Burns said. “Instead of a big battery and a small engine generator used in the Volt, we would use a fuel cell propulsion system with a small battery to capture energy when the vehicle brakes. Because the Volt is so small and lightweight, we would need only about half of the hydrogen storage as the Sequel to get 300 miles of range.”

Future concepts might incorporate diesel generators, bio-diesel and E-100.

Environmentally conscious vehicles can be aesthetically appealing
With exterior proportions associated more with classic sports cars, the Chevrolet Volt conveys an immediate message of agility and sophistication. Twenty-one-inch wheels and sheer, taut surface relationships reiterate the statement. The Volt’s athletic design challenges the notion that an environmentally conscious vehicle can’t be beautiful and possess an aesthetic spirit that matches its driving characteristics.

True to the heritage of its Chevrolet bowtie, the Volt’s exterior design suggests spirited performance and is wrapped in a stylish package, with classic Chevrolet performance cues that hint at both Camaro and Corvette. On the inside, near-term technologies and innovative materials combine with ingenious use of ambient light for an interior environment that’s light, airy and thoughtful.

“We wanted a size that connected with everyone, so we designed a small car,” said Asensio. “In the end, the interior design team from England inspired the final interior execution, and the exterior is the work of the Michigan advanced design team.

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