By on August 29, 2008

Like a rock, only with curvy bits. (courtesy leftlanenews.com)Well, here it is, courtesy of LeftLane News. Maybe. The Chevy electric – gas plug-in hybrid sure doesn't look like the show car that GM's been advertising (as if you could go down and buy one). On the other hand, the Volt shown here isn't a Malibu-a-like, which is a good thing. (Unless you ascribe to Ye Olde German "Different Length of Sausages" School of Model Design.) On the other other hand, the Volt pictured lacks the Toyota Prius' instantly identifiable "quirkiness" and attendant green cred. In fact, in this guise, the Volt's front end shares more than a little gestalt with the current Ford Fusion. So, over to you, our Best and Brightest. Did GM's designers get it right? 

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29 Comments on “Volt Birth Watch 79: Production Volt Spied on Transformers Set...”


  • avatar
    wildcmc

    That looks like a Scion TC with rims to me!

  • avatar
    thoots

    wildcmc nailed it.

    “Done.”

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Overall, it’s a nice, clean design. I consider it attractive (although, I reserve the right to change my mind when better photos are available and/or I see it in the metal). I’d suggest color-matched mirrors, though, as they stand out a bit too much.

    And they don’t seem to have that new Chevy grille motif carried through here, which surprises me a bit. It looks rather Ford-esque to me.

    The big fight, though, will be over the Cd. I can readily believe this is, as Lutz said, about .28. The current Prius is .26, will Toyota manage .24 in the 2009 Prius? If so, that’s going to make a lot of functional performance difference between the vehicles.

  • avatar
    monkeyboy

    “Did GM’s designers get it right? ”

    That’s the question.

    The Answer:

    Yeah it looks good.

    I agree that you’ve called it right, Prius is quirky.

    Like plaid pants and a striped shirt quirky.

    This does look a bit like a Tc, which is good.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The shape is not practical.

    I don’t see why people have trouble with this: one of the Prius’ big advantages is the practical packaging: even if it wasn’t a hybrid, it’s still more useful than a comparable Camry or Corolla. Yes, it’s not sleek, long and low, but it’s not like most people actually enjoy ducking out of rear seat of a sedan inflicted with the the coupe roofline disease.

    I’d even bet that SUVs wouldn’t be nearly as popular as they are if most cars weren’t ass-on-the-asphalt low through to 2005.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Yeah, it does look like a slightly stretched tC in profile view and the front looks like a GM take on the new Ford Euro design language.

    Wonder what this Transformer will be called….

    “Voltage”

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    My take:

    These shots reveal the undeniable reality of the Volt: unlike the Prius, which has its own unique platform and body, the Volt is locked into its Delta II platform (Chevy Cruze, next gen Astra, Cobalt(?)) and body architecture. It undoubtedly shares the major body hard points with its Delta siblings, the main exception being the kicked-up rear end.

    This (for me) unsurprising outcome explains the mediocre .28 Cd (coefficient of drag) for the Volt.

    Here’s the big isuue with all this: Chevy showed a radical (and stunning, depending on your taste) Volt concept. It excited a lot of the old GM fan base, who saw it as a replacement (real or imagined) for their Camaros and Corvettes, allowing them to have a flashy ride while giving the finger to OPEC. For them, the $40k price was even somewhat palatable, given the unique and distinctive looks.

    This production Volt looks quite ordinary (because it is). This may well exacerbate its pricing challenges further. A lot of the gm-volt.com fan club don’t fancy themselves riding in such an ordinary shaped and styled small car, with comments like: “make an SS version with the concept body style; who cares about the aerodynamics, range and mileage”.

    Meanwhile, the 2010 Prius will likely be…more distinctively a…Prius.

  • avatar
    gamper

    Looks good, cannot wait to see better pictures. I do wonder thought if it would perform better in the marketplace if they purposefully made it ugly but functional. The look at me factor is probably as important to most greenies as the actual fuel efficiency.

    Probably not an issue as GM will have no trouble selling the limited numbers they produce if and when it goes into production. But if it could compete with the Prius where supply could actually keep up with demand, I say the uglier vehicle has the edge.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    It won’t matter about the design if they think they can charge 40k plus for the thing.

  • avatar

    The concept Volt had:
    ✔ a long, low hood
    ✔ short front overhang
    ✔ big ass wheels
    ✔ gunslit greenhouse
    ✔ radical DLO treatment
    ✔ and green credentials

    The production Volt will have:
    ✔ green credentials
    ✔ generic FWD proportions

    Major fail.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    “Nothing (special) to look at here, folks, move along.”

    Apropos of nothing whatever….haven’t I been constantly reading that most commentors strongly dislike the whole gunslit-greenhouse thing, a la the Challenger? Now GM is taking hits for listening and avoiding same with the Volt?

    Just saying…..

    I agree the production vehicle is highly derivative of the Scion and Ford design languages, two rides which, last time I had checked, solidly failed to ignite the passions of buyers everywhere….and it’s apparent lack of interior space will trump the Buck Rogers appeal of the thing. Greenies will look at this, then head for the well-beaten path to the Toyota dealer to sign up for a Prius….

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    A lot of the gm-volt.com fan club don’t fancy themselves riding in such an ordinary shaped and styled small car, with comments like: “make an SS version with the concept body style; who cares about the aerodynamics, range and mileage”.

    That bugs me, and it shows that GM’s cheerleading squad doesn’t get it. They want a hybrid car made by GM, whether it’s good or not.

    I do blame GM for this, a bit: they have a tendency to show concept cars around for so long and in such blatant fashion that you’d be forgiven for thinking they were production cars. It’s part of the “Bedazzle’em with BS” marketing scheme that’s been their mainstay for years, and it works well, albeit only on people who are already GM fans.

    It won’t matter about the design if they think they can charge 40k plus for the thing.

    Would you pay $40K for what is, essentially, a next-gen Cobalt with different detailing, one less passenger space and an unproven powertrain?

    GM Product Planning just doesn’t get it. Even with their backs to the wall, with their most important and most visible product’s success at stake, they still don’t get it.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    I’m going to go against the trend here- I think it looks pretty good. Remember, by 2010 the current Prius is going to look dated the same way a then-so-handsome 1996 Explorer looked dated by 2000. This looks low-slung and in-line with the brand image but will still get a double-take.

    So in other words, you all are complaining that GM is applying “good” proportions to the Volt instead of the Prius’s nasty porpoise-like proportions. Thank god you don’t design automobiles.

  • avatar
    Potemkin

    Read somewhere that there are 30,000 people who have put down a deposit on the first Volts, any truth to this? I wonder how these pre buys like the new styling?

  • avatar

    Potemkin Read somewhere that there are 30,000 people who have put down a deposit on the first Volts, any truth to this? I wonder how these pre buys like the new styling

    Actually, no one's put down deposits. The #1 Volt fanboy site, gm-volt.com, has a place you can sign to say you might be interested in buying one. It has over 30K people on it. But Volt fans like to point to that as being 30k people who will buy them.  Here's our take on it .

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Like I have said numerous times the Volt is just going to be a tarted up Cobalt/Cruze which is really going to hurt them with all the ads showing the concept. It’s not a bad looking car but it’s nothing great either and it sure doesn’t have the wow factor and uniqueness of the concept. I wonder how that wide rear axle is going to perform in the real world with the drivers we have, I see alot of people clipping corners and bending rims on curbs since most drivers can barely drive and park a normal car.

    So in other words, you all are complaining that GM is applying “good” proportions to the Volt instead of the Prius’s nasty porpoise-like proportions. Thank god you don’t design automobiles.

    You should be in GM’s fantasy camp of car design. Car design is headed heavily in the direction of practicallity over stylised looks, with cars needing to become smaller lighter and more efficient. The Prius might not be a looker like the Camaro but it meets the buyers needs with a usable and practical shape and design. Unless GM figures this out fast(I’m not holding my breath on it) their cars will continue to be non sellers as fat lumps that get poor gas mileage and have little usable space compared to the competition. The supersize-me design trend is over.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    mikeolan:Remember, by 2010 the current Prius is going to look dated

    By then, the all-new 2010 Prius will have been out (coming in 2009).

  • avatar
    Jay

    Which end is the front?

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    It looks sort of like a Honda CRX to me. I think it would be hillarious if when you clicked on the picture it zoomed in on the rear and you found out this vehicle was actually a Toyota, Honda, or BMW. I’d be willing to bet some of the opinions of this vehicle would magically get positive. Just sayin….

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    So, what really is the difference between the Cruze and the Volt? Could they be assembled on the same production line? The sheetmetal is obviously different, but how about the body hardpoints?

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    @Paul

    Yes, but the 2010 Prius is either going to look:
    1) Like the current Prius
    2) Like a real car
    3) Ridiculously outlandish

    If they stick with number 1, it’s not going to appear as radical (see Nissan Murano or previous Focus.) In terms of proportion, the Prius is a train wreck, but its lack of traditional automotive style is passed over for its ‘green’ novelty. And ‘true’ greenies seem to be opting for the Civic Hybrid, which will tell you where they’re going…

    @Paul Again: “It excited a lot of the old GM fan base, who saw it as a replacement (real or imagined) for their Camaros and Corvettes, allowing them to have a flashy ride while giving the finger to OPEC. For them, the $40k price was even somewhat palatable, given the unique and distinctive looks.”

    From a complete logistics standpoint, were you expecting an exact clone of the concept? And who would really replace their Corvette or Camaro with this? I think it’d be the ‘daily driver’ for such an owner to show off, but not a replacement.

  • avatar
    MBella

    When did the digital speedometer fad come back? All the major hybrids have them. Even the new civic has it, and now the volt.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    The shape is not practical.

    Well, the Aztek was pretty darn practical in its packaging, too.

    Just something to consider in the midst of this criticism for making the Volt look, well…normal.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    The production Volt cannot look like or weigh as much as the promotional version. The issue is weight and CD. If GM does it correctly the CD will be max .27. Check your dragmobile here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automobile_drag_coefficients

  • avatar
    KixStart

    mikeolan,

    If the “greenies” are going to the Civic hybrid, when did that start? Sales languished until gas prices took off. So, I doubt what you assert.

    The Prius’ shape, unique as it is, has significant advantages. The car is 16″ shorter than a Malibu but has almost the exact same interior room, a cargo area that’s just 1 cu ft smaller and still has the extra drivetrain components (battery, electric motor/generators, PSD) hiding away in it somewhere. And the current Prius has a better drag coefficient than the yet-to-be-produced Volt.

    The shape works.

  • avatar

    If the volt is essentially a prius/A2/insight shape with a chopped roof (might just be the high beltline) it might be able to pull off better aero #s than the Prius through a reduced cross section.

    Once again CdA is the number to worry about. Cd means squat.

  • avatar
    blindfaith

    There is a small car company starting up with a car that pays total attention to the areodynamics of a car.

    The car disposes of the double rear wheel. that causes drag. The car is designed like a tear drop that provides for the best drag numbers for a car. The single rear wheel drive disposes of weight complexity and a 30% reduction of friction loss from all those gears trying to figure out which wheel should get the power. The instability will be resolved by a anti-roller chip controllering the anti-lock breaks.

    A four passenger version can be had by making the seating into a diamond. This will sell in both left and right hand drive countries. Small is so much easier than BIG CEO’s Big board of directors and total loss of creativity as engineers are lost in morass of studing single angolrithms for 30 years.

    This car is a two seater, one rear wheel drive and will get 200mpg to 300mpg and cost $25,000.

    Now why is anybody buying a hybrid and to all of the big car companies you folks think have the nerve to build a car for MPG of ethanol. THINK AGAIN

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    @KixStart: it started this year, and the Prius languished for its first years, too. Go to a university campus and see what the “Inconvenient Truth Fanatic” professors are driving- Civic Hybrids. Students are driving them too- its shape is much better proportioned, the price is lower, and the mileage is similar.

    It probably isn’t all about the shape- It probably has to do more about the fact that the Prius is a miserable car.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    z31, And reduced cross-section means… what? Lower roof? Narrower vehicle? Those changes reduce the capacity and utility of the vehicle.

    mikeolan, Except you can’t prove that at all… you’ve no way to factor out gas prices and I doubt you’ve done a comprehensive study of American universities, anyway.

    And the Prius as miserable car? I’ve driven one; I liked it. On the other hand, I’m satisfied with a 10 sec 0-60, which is probably about what my 283 Chevelle Malibu did. At 15 to 20mpg. With less headroom.

    As for “Inconvenient Truth Fanatic” professors… if they’re the chem, physics and biology professors… I guess I’d be really worried about global warming. If it’s the political science types, then maybe not.

    On the other hand, where I work, we have quite a few PhD types, in R&D and manufacturing. The people I know who are the most concerned about global warming happen to have physics and chemical engineering doctorates (and several work in aerosols).

    Added: By the way, mikeolan, the Prius had a waiting list pretty much from teh get-go.


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