• Dec 11th 2007 at 10:57AM
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More Volt news: yesterday was the teaser pic, today is news that GM has devoted an entire design studio to work solely on The Next Big Thing. On October 1, forty-five interior and exterior designers moved into an abandoned auditorium at the GM Tech Center in Warren, MI and have what sounds like a pretty complete studio operation, from workstations to clay modelers.

Bob Boniface, the design team director, cited the necessary speed of development for the creation of the studio. Once the team sorts out the car's powertrain, they'll work on applying it to other compact models in GM's fleet (hybrid Beat, anyone?). Boniface also said, "For this car to have popular appeal, and for buyers to embrace the new technology, it must look good." An interesting statement only because the Prius doesn't look good and we know how it has sold. However, we for one will be happy to see a clean-sheet hybrid with some good looks to boot.

We're also glad to see -- at least, by the looks of it -- GM devoting the time and resources to getting this car done, and done right. GM has to know how chickens will be needed in order to lay all the eggs its face will be covered with if the Volt isn't delivered as promised and pretty close to on time. It's not exactly a fair standard, but this isn't exactly the usual car, and after all the big talk it took to get here, GM goods to deliver. And it look like they're doing it.

[Source: GM]



* E-Flex vehicles take shape in sustainable studio

Warren, MI – General Motors (GM) announces the opening of a new studio dedicated to the company's next generation of electrically-driven vehicles. The newly renovated studio is located within GM's Advanced Design Center, which was responsible for the Chevrolet Volt concept revealed at the 2007 North American International Auto Show last January.

GM's new E-Flex Systems Design Studio will develop a variety of vehicles using the E-flex propulsion system, starting with the production version of the Chevrolet Volt. It is the only studio on the planet specifically designated to designing a wide variety of electric plug-in vehicles with a range extender.

"As soon as the project kicked off, I knew we needed a dedicated team focused on the development of E-Flex based vehicles and that team needed its own creative space," said Ed Welburn, Vice President, Global Design. "To accelerate the programme, we needed the right mix of designers and engineers from the original show car team and people with experience from the production side."

Bob Boniface, design director for the E-flex Systems Design Studio and the Chevrolet Volt, will lead the team of approximately 45 creative designers, sculptors, design engineers, scientists and administrative staff. He was the lead for the exterior design of the Chevrolet Volt concept. According to Boniface, this historical programme offers a new set of challenges and opportunities.

"We handpicked a team of both young and experienced designers who are enthusiastic, eager and believe in the cause as I do," said Boniface. "They want to find a better way, a solution to our dependency on petroleum, and that's what this car is about."

The Chevrolet Volt, GM's electric plug-in vehicle, will be the first vehicle designed in the new studio. The Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in electric vehicle that will run up to 40 miles without ever using a drop of gasoline which according to government data, would be enough to handle approximately two-thirds of daily commutes for American drivers. The first vehicle in GM's "E-Flex" family, the Volt will be powered by an electric motor, which draws its energy from on-board batteries. The batteries, in turn, will be re-charged by a small internal combustion engine that will run on gas, diesel or ethanol. When not in use, the batteries will be re-charged by simply plugging the Volt into an electric outlet.

The studio renovation began last June within the existing GM Advanced Design Center. What's now the new E-flex studio was once an auditorium built for product reviews and other special events hosting famous entertainers and even several former U.S. presidents. The new studio is an adaptive reuse of the existing facility with steps taken toward environmental sustainability with such installations as sustainable carpet, energy efficient, compact fluorescent lighting; repurposed surfaces, energy efficient window shades to control heating and cooling, rugs made of 100% wool, natural materials, Cradle to Cradle certified furniture that's recyclable or can be safely composted.

"There's a lot of history in this building," said Boniface, "and I feel we're making our own history by designing a whole new generation of vehicles that don't require gasoline."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I made the comment that it doesn't matter what the Volt looks like. I still stand by the, but I suppose it does matter to a certain extent.

      Here's where I invoke a "yeah, but still.." and say if GM delivers on the promise of this PHEV then they will not only have a hit on their hands, they will revolutionize the industry. That's no small feat.

      It just seems premature to me to talk about what the thing will look like there is still not clear indication that they will be able to deliver on the power for this thing.

      Besides, if they do have a real power source for it they should be able to shoehorn it into any of their vehicles.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Lets hope they come to the market asap
      • 7 Years Ago
      An interesting statement only because the Prius doesn't look good and we know how it has sold.

      Are you implying that any and everyone wanting a hybrid doesnt care if the vehicle looks like a crapbasket?

      I would love a hybrid or pure electric that 1) makes economic sense or close to it and 2) looks appealing.

      1 becomes more feasible as technology evolves and gas prices rise because of men securing their manhood with an Expedition or Escalade and soccer moms with their 2 kids and a suburban because they wont be caught dead in a minivan or station wagon. (To be fair, that's not hte only reason)

      2 becomes feasible as car guys get involved in hybrid car design, which cant happen at Toyota because there are no car guys there with any power. Go GM
        • 7 Years Ago
        If you read the sentence before, I think he means that with some more hybrid/electric choices available, buyers can be more discriminating. The real deal-makers or -breakers then become the looks, as opposed to when the Prius first hit the market on a grand scale. Granted, there are now a (very) few competitors from Honda and others, but the Prius still represents the green car movement to many people, possibly because it's only offered as a hybrid instead of as a modified version of a standard vehicle. It's not pretty, but if you want everyone to know you have a hybrid, you buy one. If the Volt comes to market looking better than the Prius and offering similar or better technology and fuel consumption, a lot of people who would have bought a Prius will probably reconsider.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Maybe atleast now all those who say this project is a Bob Lutz pipedream will shutup. Or on second thought..........i know they won't.
        • 7 Years Ago
        GM haters are too committed to their prejudice to ever shut up. If they did, who would we make fun of ;-)
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yep. Looks like fireblade (see below) has found something to whine about already.
        • 7 Years Ago
        haters are gonna hate, same as with the GT-R
        • 7 Years Ago
        No they won't. If GM built a car that could run on water and fly, they would still find something to bitch about.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I think those who doubt GM, as a result of the EV1 project and the fuel cell sled pipe dream, will shut up when the car hits show rooms at the price GM has promised.

        Per the design, it's nice, I always wondered what the SAAB grill would look like with a bow tie. it should sell once it hits market, not having to worry about the prius 'look at me im odd' effect.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Until this car is at the dealer lot, ready to be purchased, it is vaporware. The technology is very exciting but manufacturers (not just GM) have been promising the moon but not really delivering.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I agree that it doesn't matter what the Volt looks like, since GM most likely won't ever actually build the thing in real quantity. They'd rather focus on Buick Enclaves and other big ticket items.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Beta Bob - do you mean if both companies truly cared, they would give every American a hybrid option? Because I'm with you on that one. More choice for the consumer is a fundamental capitalist tenet, yes? Perhaps a hybrid pickup, or diesel model that got 30 mpg, might find an audience in our good ol US of A as well?

        But you sound a little like an Exxon Mobil shareholder and I wouldn't want to crimp that hefty dividend that the world's most profitable company pays you, so please do forget all that I've written here, my well oiled friend.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yeah you are right and if Toyota really cared they'd start building the Prius at a second plant.

        Maybe they should stop prduction of the Tundra in San Antonio and build it there.

        And if both companies really cared they'd give every American a free hybrid.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "GM has to know how chickens will be needed in order to lay all the eggs its face will be covered with if the Volt isn't delivered as promised..."

      "GM goods to deliver."

      Holy grammar check, Batman! I'm not one to nitpick blog posts but I had a hard time reading this one. Leave it in the oven for another couple minutes next time, J.R.
      • 7 Years Ago
      looks like a ugly malibu with unreliable gm components.
        • 7 Years Ago

        There is no need to accuse. The proof is in the pudding. Toyota DOES benefit from "inferring the reliability of a model based on the brand". Isn't that why until yesterday CR blindly placed their seal of approval on every toyota no matter what.
      • 7 Years Ago
      the headlight shape screams "04 and up Acura TL" though the design inside the headlight looks even better.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You're talking as if Honda invented this. The thing is, it's not the case.
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