The presenters in the VC were Sam Lute, the room lead, and Andrew Farah, the chief vehicle engineer of the Volt. Farah might be familiar to some readers for his work on the EV1 - and he was selected to work on the Volt because of his history with EV1. Listening to Farah speak (he takes up about 50 minutes of the 55-minute audio clip below) is a real lesson in what the Volt engineer are dealing with as they design the car. How can the dip in the battery's structure distribute energy in the case of a crash? How will they deal with gasoline (or E85) that sits in the fuel tank for a year? How about if there's no fuel in the tank at all? Are there any parts of the ICE, specifically durability components that are needed in a motor that runs all the time but will just weigh the car down if the engine only turns on twice a day for five miles, that can be removed? How often will you need to change the oil in a car like this? Will there need to be and "driver education" to explain the benefits of driving around with just a third of the tank full of gas? Should the computer be designed to run the engine even if the battery doesn't need to be charged, perhaps even as the car is sitting for weeks on end? Farah doesn't have all the answers, but there's a lot to learn in the clip below.
I also got to speak with Farah a bit more about the potential of using the Volt sans gasoline. His take? Yes, it'd be possible. If you don't have 55 minutes for the full presentation, perhaps this five-minute interview will be more your style: