The Chevy Volt’s official design has come in for some heavy criticism for being far from the futuristic and sporty concept car GM rolled out at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show. It was that model that adorned our March 19, 2007 cover.
In photos of the production model released yesterday on GM’s 100th birthday, I find the design quite appealing and have more of an appreciation for innovative technology that propels the vehicle. Auto cheesecake photos can elicit far better response than what bubbles up when you’re in the same room as one. And the fact it’s a four-seater instead of five is a bit of a ding - you have to put that big battery somewhere. See our Volt photo gallery, watch GM’s introduction video and check out our extensive Volt coverage.
GM vice chairman Bob Lutz vigorously defends the more conservative design on his Power On blog. His rationale is a good one: GM chose to focus on aerodynamics and figures that buyers will connect more with what powers it than the vehicle’s looks. How else could Toyota ever sell the Prius? That’s about as unsexy as car design gets.
I buy cars based on practicalities such what’s inside, engineering, handling/ride, cost of ownership and reliability which is THE big question with the Volt. Design is factor, but never the overriding one and I like to think I am educated buyer. I suspect many engineers are this way, too. In fact, I would not have bought the concept car had it become the production model. Maybe it still will.
Here’s Lutz’s argument:
“The vehicle’s design has come under some criticism, most of it, to me, unwarranted. The challenge to the designers wasn’t to design the most beautiful car imaginable and accept the compromises you have to make to do so. It was, make no compromise to fuel efficiency and electric range, and then do the most beautiful design possible, around those aerodynamic dictates.
“When you look at the exterior of the Volt, you might notice certain aerodynamic shapes and design elements of some other cars you might see on the road. But beneath the skin, it shares very little with any other car that’s ever existed. So I submit that while it’s typically design that makes an emotional connection with buyers, in this case, the Volt is going to be bought for emotional reasons, but it will be for the emotion tied to the technology contained therein.”