By on June 2, 2015

2007 Chevrolet Volt Concept

There’s nothing better in this business than a concept car to stir my imagination.

I can visualize myself in a brand new wondermobile as I crest a hill before diving into the next bend, holding a starship steering wheel (or maybe I am just kicking back and relaxing in some mechanical automaton), surrounded by glass and Star Trek-esque touchpanels with commands such as SPORT, HYPERBOOST, and OIL SLICK.

Yet, when those fancy-shmancy concepts make their way to production, sometimes their essence is lost. Other times, what arrives on the dealer lot is a completely different car altogether.

The Chevrolet Volt Concept from 2007 was one of these wondermobiles conceived by very smart people at General Motors. Between Bob Lutz and a team of designers, we were teased with what you see above. At the time, the Volt Concept offered up some very interesting design cues not seen anywhere else, such as the transparent panels in front of the windows, giving the car a seemingly lower beltline.

Chevrolet Volt

What we got was entirely different. Between the bean counters and aerodynamicists, the Volt, with its aggressive fascia and long-hood proportions turned into an amorphous blob. Gone were all details that made the concept such a compelling eye-catcher.

Lowered beltline? Nope. Chevrolet decided to add a black strip of plastic instead to give it the impression of having a lowered beltline. Coupe profile? Gone. Big wheels? See ya. Long, flat hood? Nadda.

The Volt went from electrified phallic four-door coupe to energized egg in one foul swoop.

Mary Barra and Chevrolet Volt at NAIAS 2015

What’s worse: the newest Volt looks almost exactly like a Honda Civic. Say goodbye, personality.

So, Best & Brightest, what production cars do you think lacked delivery on its concept’s promise?

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84 Comments on “QOTD: What Production Car Didn’t Deliver On Its Concept’s Promise?...”


  • avatar
    danio3834

    The worst were the ones that never delivered anything at all. I’m looking at you, Lincoln MKR. Well, it guess the design language was applied to the MKS and Z, but none of the powertrain or chassis. Much disappoint.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I haz a sad…

      You can pretty much say that about any Lincoln concept since like 2000 (except for the Concept C).

      2001 Mk9
      2002 Continental
      2003 Navicross
      2004 Mark X
      2007 MKR

      Damn you Lincoln!

      Also, Ford Interceptor.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      “The worst were the ones that never delivered anything at all.”

      Jeep Gladiator

      Cadillac Elmiraj and Sixteen

      Lincoln Continental

      Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge

    • 0 avatar

      TESLA MODEL S – was supposed to be “affordable”. It’s only “affordable” like a GOLD Apple Watch is “affordable”. You spend a whole lot more on a product that isn’t time efficient unless you are able to charge it everywhere you happen to be. Ironically both the Model S and Apple Watch have battery life issues.

      JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING FROM LINCOLN – none are TRUE LINCOLNS. The only true Lincoln you can buy now is the Kia K900.

      JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING FROM CADILLAC – Everyone rants and raves about “sporty driving” in the ATS and CTS, but the prices are so high and the take rate so low that more people are in BMW 3’s and 5’s – accepting less “sportiness”, more interior space and just about everything else the self proclaimed “car enthusiasts” don’t like.

      BUT I’M DRIVING A “BEE EM DOUBLE UUUUU”…so no-one cares.

      The only true “Cadillac” you can buy is a Hyundai Equus.

      It’s everything that Cadillac used to be.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve sat in the rear confines of an Equus. Cadillac would be aiming pretty damned low if it made THAT (and the Kia K900) a target.

        Cadillac should be aiming for Mercedes S-Klassedom, not going back to the discount luxury that Kia and Hyundai are apparently doing.

        But it’s good enough for Lincoln, though.

        Ouch, that hurt just saying that.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Thank Dog that concept didn’t fly. All that glass would swamp the A/C.

    But a roof that pops back down to permit stacking would be pretty cool on the boats to all the foreign countries that demand Chevys.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    This is easy: The Camaro & Challenger.

    When those two were first shown, they were presented as pillarless hardtops. What we got were two-door sedans with fixed rear glass. Same old, same old…

    Another one: The Chevy Bel-Air. A no-show.

    The Volt is fine.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “When those two were first shown, they were presented as pillarless hardtops. What we got were two-door sedans with fixed rear glass”

      I was disappointed by this as well.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        Too bad about the laws of physics and need to survive a rollover. High-strength steel can do only so much…

        But then again, we have nothing on the 50s and 60s cars. The original Firebird was a jet-powered, self-driving, supersonic-looking wondermachine compared to the actual Firebird.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    and just to make sure this party is not exclusive to domestic brands, I present the Honda CRZ and the Toyota FJ Cruiser.

    The FJ is truly a disappointment from what we thought we were getting and the final product. Sure they sold for a while but ultimately a huge let down for me personally.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Even Honda’s engineers and (US) executives thought the CR-Z was a bad idea – before it went on sale!

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/honda-engineers-and-us-execs-agreed-the-cr-z-shouldnt-have-been-built/

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I just stopped getting excited about a concept.

    Every time I see those stylized, minature side mirrors on a concept I just smile, because I know there is a long way to go before the public can buy it.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    Side-glass or not, that Volt concept with its tiny greenhouse and raised rear would’ve had atrocious visibility (so basically like every new car today). In that respect, Im glad the production version is different.

    As for your question, pretty much every Subaru of the last decade qualifies.

  • avatar
    Aphidman

    If only this concept had made it to production:

    http://www.ianfleming.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/chitty_film.jpg

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Pontiac Trans Sport. It looked cool (for a minivan) as a concept, but applying all the styling points to the dustbuster profile ruined it.

    Leave it to Toyota to sell a more credible effort with the Previa.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      And again, Pontiac had a pretty decent minivan-ish vehicle in the Aztek concept. But when it came out in production form…gross.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Ding, ding, ding… winner, winner, chicken dinners.

        How about we nominate a manufacturer for concepts vs. production cars that went over like turds in punch-blows.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        We have a winner.

        The Aztek concept was pretty interesting – the big ball of suck and compromise that we got was a whole different story.

        On a side note, remained stunned on how many of the abominations I see on the road, people that own them apparently love them.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    Chrysler Crossfire, for a good example of how little changes can completely neuter a concept for no apparent reason.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Yes the concept was waaaay better.

      Also, every time someone talks about the Chrysler Crossfire, I just think of the 90s board game. It had a legendary commercial, but almost no one could afford it. Everyone had that friend that owned the game and also owned way more video games than you could ever imagine.

      The kid that owned Crossfire also had the SNES SuperScope and Sega CD.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “The kid that owned Crossfire also had the SNES SuperScope and Sega CD.”

        Aww damn. Rich. Did he also have a Power Glove?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Now you’ve done it.

        CROSSFIRE na na na na CROSSFIRE.

        I had a Super Scope (which was stupid btw) but we never had Sega Genesis. The NES Pistol was better IMO.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The NES Pistol rules. I’m not sure about the Power Pad though. I’ve only ever seen the track game used with the Power Pad.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I think my cousin had this power pad, he was about five years older then me and came of age with NES (vs SNES for me).

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            http://www.retrousb.com/

            This guy has some neat stuff but I prefer emulators.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Some days, I really want to play GoldenEye for the N64. I need to stay off that site…

            I do wish I had it last weekend. The wife was out and I put my daughter to bed at 845. Flipping though the TV and Goldeneye was on. I had at least 3 hours that I could have spent messing around with old video games. Instead I read a book and fixed some stuff around the house.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Need to take reasonable time out for things which pleasure the brain as well as productive things.

            I read some time ago the reason N64 won’t work in emulation is because the Z? joystick in the center was patented and is required due to how the games were designed. I can emulate S/NES, Sega Genesis/CD, PS1, and everything earlier with ease on a PS1/2 controller (which has enough buttons for all) just not N64. I think they figured out how to emulate PS2 as well but I still have one of those.

            Did you know NHL94 has a cult following and is still played online?

            http://nhl94.com/

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            That’s because NHL 94 is amazing. Plus, it plays the Hartford Whalers song “Brass Bonanza” all the time.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Whalers? Gotta go Pens, then the mighty Winnipeg Jets.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        What! We had Crossfire, and we were only “grandparents around the corner have an NES” wealthy.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I thought the Toyobarus looked pretty cool in concept form. Definitely watered down though for production.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The production version used the name and not much else:
    http://images.thecarconnection.com/med/2003_chevrolet_ss_concept_100006158_m.jpg

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I like the production Volt’s looks much better than the concept, and Volt 2.0 as well.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    I still wonder how GM got that Yanomamo to pose in the blue Volt so it looks roomier. They’re reputedly pretty feisty.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I think the production Volt is actually better looking than the concept, and how often does that happen?

    But generally, my love for concept cars evaporated years ago. They just don’t excite me – too practical and “real world.”

  • avatar
    dwford

    Pontiac Transport, latest Subaru WRX, latest Nissan Maxima, Toyota FT-86, Lincoln MKT.

    • 0 avatar
      Nedmundo

      Agree on the WRX, assuming we’re thinking of the same concept, which I saw at the Philly Auto Show a few years ago. It was simply stunning, and one of the coolest looking four-doors I’ve ever seen IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I think the MkT concept looks very similar. The hatch is different on the production model, but the tail lights and front 3/4 are basically the same.

  • avatar
    Fred

    On a personal note, around 1972 the new Lotus Esprit debut. A year later I got my first real job and the still not available Esprit was now a possibility. I was saving my money and finally 1975 the Esprit was here, well not quite according to my dealer. I test drove a Europa and was pretty excited about it, but I held out for the Esprit. When delivered the price had risen substantially and then I lost my job. Oh well.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Pontiac Aztek.

  • avatar
    redliner

    To be fair, the volt did deliver on it’s promise of being a real serial hybrid with usable electric range. Better the styling suffer than the actual functionality of the thing.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Oh, now you’ve done it with the “real serial hybrid” comment. Watch out for the pitchfork/torch/tinfoil hat brigade to leave 20 comments telling you that the Volt was a deceptive and faulty product because it has a clutch that connects the engine and drivetrain directly at highway speeds. To some people that seems to be the worst white-collar crime of the modern era.

      • 0 avatar
        redliner

        Perhaps I should edit my comment to say, ” a serial hybrid with parallel capability”

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          Or a series-parallel hybrid like the Prius. In the end they just made a Chevy Prius with a larger battery. It shows that sometimes it’s just better to connect the engine to the wheels, especially when there is very little additional hardware that has to be added.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The Prius is never a serial hybrid. The physical connection between the wheels and engine is always there, just modulated by the second electric motor.

            The Volt’s engine is physically disconnected from the wheels except in certain situations at highway speeds. Redliner’s description is totally accurate.

  • avatar
    r129

    The Oldsmobile Alero Alpha concept was something that I was really excited about. Then we got the Alero, and being a die-hard Oldsmobile fan, I was still excited enough to buy one. Still, it was a let down.

    On the other hand, the Aurora looked a lot better than the 1989 Oldsmobile Tube Car concept, at least to my eyes.

  • avatar

    To be fair, the Volt concept couldn’t deliver on its promise because GM found out that it was about as aerodynamic as a Hummer H2.

    As for my nomination, I’ll toss in the most recent Subaru WRX concept. While the concept looked like a Japanese Jaguar XF (which is a compliment), the production car is just…meh. The WRX design is little more than the sum of its shapes.

    WRX concept:
    http://www.topgear.com/uk/imageresize/image.jpg?OriginalImageUrl=%2Fuk%2Fassets%2Fcms%2F330e156e-53c8-4279-abc0-d07aa4efe077%2FLarge+Image.jpg%3Fp%3D130730_10%3A54&Width=600&Height=339

  • avatar
    Hummer

    GM should have just went to the Toyota dealership and bought a Prius to show as the Volt concept, it would have been almost spot on.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I was disappointed by the Matrix/Vibe: they were good enough cars, but I’d hoped for both more (cargo space) and less (exterior dimensions). What Toyota delivered was a much larger car than my friends and I were expecting with a curiously small trunk because the load floor was so high.

    Honda delivered an Americanized Fit a few years later, which _was_ the car I was hoping the Matrix would be. I bought it, instead.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’ve got a good one, the Plymouth Pronto! (Which failed so hard to become the PT Cruiser.)

    http://www.allpar.com/cars/concepts/pronto.html

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I’m surprised no mention thus far of the Plymouth “Prowler,” the hot rod a Gen Y teen would have made if his mom left her Sebring convertible at home while on vacation and he knew how to use tools.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That was my original thing I was gonna post. But I couldn’t come up with what claims they were making for it at the time of concept. And the production version DOES look like the concept.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Almost every Lincoln concept for the last decade.

    Instead of the Cadillac Elmiraj we got the CT6 WTF mobile.

    I have to put the FR-S up here on the what the Hell happened from concept to production. They got the looks right but missed on everything else.

  • avatar
    probert

    Pontiac Aztec: it didn’t start bad, but it broke bad.

    https://youtu.be/IByCyXWT5YA

    http://wot.motortrend.com/thread-of-the-day-what-if-the-pontiac-aztek-concept-had-gone-to-production-unchanged-192105.html

  • avatar
    Tommy231

    The Volt never bothered me. I did find it amusing how it went from a range extended series hybrid to a machine where the engine couples to the wheels in some modes. GM had a lot of people fooled with that, and some car companies too. A lot of people still believe it is a series hybrid even today.

    The biggest disappointment ever for me was the Oldsmobile Alero. I was ready to buy one after seeing the concept at the 1997 Detroit Auotshow. Finally, a rear wheel drive performance coupe that looks good. It went form this: http://oldconceptcars.com/1930-2004/oldsmobile-alero-alpha-1997/ (check out the much wider rear wheels) to this FWD snooze mobile: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldsmobile_Alero

  • avatar
    zamoti

    The never-made Mitsubishi Mad Max AKA SSU of which there are scant few photos. You can find it at oldconceptcars.com. I remember seeing it at the Cleveland Auto Show and was fascinated with it. I think the guy on the turntable was touting it to be the offroad version of a 3000GT VR4. Good times.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Well if it was never made, then it wasn’t a production car – and thus cannot either deliver or disappoint. It’s an incomplete. Like the Studebaker Sceptre.

      http://www.conceptcarz.com/view/photo/10694,678/1999-Mitsubishi-SSU_Photo.aspx

      It’s basically the Mitsubishi Flex.

  • avatar

    While the new Volt isn’t a bad looking car, I think the designers were moving away from the “a hybrid has to look like a hybrid” philosophy a bit too much and ended up with something that’s much more generic than the first gen Volt. It will be interesting if the 1st gen Volt’s affluent customers will want to be seen in something that plain.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I don’t think the new Volts styling is it’s biggest threat. Steady improvements in range and charging infrastructure make full electrics it’s biggest threat. To hybrid owners, the ICE is a crutch they’d like to eventually throw away. As soon as the threshold for whatever was tying them to a hybrid is gone, it will be replaced by a full EV.

      For me, it was always disappointing when I had to leave electric mode and that tractor motor in our Prius kicked in. Now, I’m very happy with a full electric. 1400 miles a month of pure electric. Improving infrastructure where I drive was a big factor.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Yep. The Volt, while a fantastic piece of hardware, is still prone to a lot of the usual ICE headaches. No ICE means very little to break down and almost no maintenance. If only the range were there at a reasonable price, a pure electric would be a better ownership experience for an awful lot of people.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Well, it’s not quite a production car yet, but when is the Acura NSX going to finally be out? It seems there was a huge ad budget for the thing several *years* ago. Is it going to go down as the most expensive advertising budget for a car that never ships? Seems also that in the meantime the BMW i8 might have stolen a bit of its thunder.

  • avatar
    STS_Endeavour

    Lincoln Quicksilver

    HFX Aerostar Ghia

    Buick LaCrosse – The concept was so awesome. The production vehicle was so very, very frumpy. Hardly better than a Taurus of the era.

  • avatar
    BuckB

    Subaru Legacy, total disappointment. Went and got a Ford once I saw the what Subaru actually produced.

  • avatar
    I_S

    Not a concept – Honda’s concepts are essentially production cars – but I remember getting excited seeing the mockups of the current gen Civic – until I realized that the real thing looks way less aggressive and is made of plastic.

  • avatar
    dgodshal

    Shelby GR-1. Designed but not produced. Almost criminal!

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