We knew it was too good to be true. Something about the Chevrolet Volt just didn't add up. How did General Motors, a corporate leviathan known showing very little forward thinking in the green car arena (except for the EV-1 experiment) manage to create a real contender in the EV market? The answer? They stole it from Daihatsu.

Okay, that's probably not how it went down. But there are a remarkable number of similarities between Daihutsu's DASH 21 concept from 1993 and the 2011 Chevy Volt. Way back in 1993, Daihatsu showed its DASH 21 at the Tokyo and Frankfurt Motor Shows. DASH was a clever acronym for Daihatsu Autocharging Series Hybrid. Thankfully, it wasn't a parallel hybrid because DAPH 21 is markedly less nimble-sounding.

The front wheels of the DASH 21 were driven by an electric motor powered by a t-shaped nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. Though the Volt uses lithium ion batteries, the arrangement of its battery pack, a "t" that runs through the tunnel and under the rear seat, is virtually identical to the DASH's.

Daihatsu had the basic idea of a range-extending hybrids figured out, but the DASH definitely could've benefited from almost two decades of advancement in the auto industry. The Volt has a honking 120kW motor compared to the DASH's 20kW unit. Then there's the internal combustion part of the equation. The Volt sports a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a 53kW generator while the DASH had a 660cc, rear-mounted three-cylinder engine mated to an 8kW generator. They did the best they could do.

The DASH 21 loses again when it comes to range. It claimed an all-electric range of 25 miles compared to the Volt's 40. Again, you can pretty much chalk that up to better batteries in the Volt. Top speed for the DASH was said to be 75 miles per hour. Not enough for the U.S. today, but back in 1993, speed limits were still 55 mph, so 75 might've actually done the job. Like virtually all concept cars, the DASH-21 was a little too far ahead of its time. Hopefully, it's illegitimate grandson, the Chevy Volt, is arriving exactly when it should.

[Source: Green Car Reports]


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