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.
NEW GM STUDIO TO DESIGN NEXT GENERATION OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES
* 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."