The much-talked about Chevy Volt gets its auto show debut in Paris. The production version of the car looks substantially different from the concept car that debuted in 2007, but still incorporates the same series hybrid power train.
GM previously revealed the production Volt at its centennial celebration in Detroit, and now it displays it for the public at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. This series hybrid car represents a radical power train change and, if successful, will radically influence how all cars are designed.
The concept Volt, shown in 2007, was designed like a sports car. The production version looks very different, as it was designed for aerodynamic efficiency and to seat four people comfortably. Where the concept Volt would have been more of a niche vehicle, GM wants to make as big an impact as Toyota's Prius with the production Volt.
As a series hybrid, the Volt uses an electric motor and lithium ion battery pack to drive the wheels, giving the car a range of about 40 miles. The battery can be recharged in less than three hours by plugging it in to an AC power source. For longer trips, the car has an onboard gas engine that generates electricity to drive the electric motor and recharge the battery. This system generates 150 horsepower.
Borrowing a cue from Volvo, GM interior designers use a floating instrument panel to give the car's cabin a clean look. The car's shifter is also inset into the instrument panel. As an electric car, the shifter will most likely just have park, forward, and reverse positions.
The instrument panel itself uses touch controls, something that would be unique if it makes it into the actual production vehicle, which won't be seen until late 2010. GM states that navigation will be optional, although the LCD at the top of the instrument panel, which shows charge information, should be standard. With the navigation system comes a hard drive that can also store music.