GM created buzz at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show with its Chevrolet-branded Volt concept car. The Volt is a true design concept in that it explores radical exterior and interior styling, new materials from GE, and an electric power train.
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Designers wanted to use a high beltline in the Volt, but didn't want to impede views out the side windows of this sports car. GE provided a clear composite material that can be formed in the same shape as the sides of the car to run along the bottoms of the side windows.
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GE also provided a Lexan canopy and a rear hatch. Unlike glass, the material can be molded to support the taillights. Body panels, such as the hood, are also made from a composite material that's as strong as steel, yet 40 percent of the weight.
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The Volt's interior design team kept it simple. Instead of putting an LCD in the dashboard, they created a multidisplay out of the instrument cluster by using projection technology.
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Probably the most unique aspect of the Volt is the power train, using GM's E-flex system. It's an electric vehicle platform storing power in a large lithium-ion battery. When the battery gets low, a small gas engine kicks in to recharge it. GM claims this combination could drive the car for 640 miles, although a lithium-ion battery of this size has yet to be engineered.