The Chevrolet Volt Concept serves two purposes – as a design concept as well as a powertrain concept. The powertrain is so much of a concept that it is simply not possible to produce with current battery technologies. Yes, the Chevrolet Volt is a hybrid car that uses both a gasoline combustion engine and an electric motor, making it’s name very apt indeed – but this particular hybrid technology comes with a twist! More information on the Chevrolet Volt concept after the jump.

“First and foremost, this is an advanced technology vehicle that uses little or no fuel at all. But we didnt see any reason why that should compromise its design. We wanted a size that connected with everyone, so we designed a small car. In the end, the interior design team from England inspired the final interior execution, and the exterior was the work of the Michigan advanced design team. Our job was to design a vehicle people could easily imagine seeing on the road. It couldnt be a ‘science project, because thats not what this car is all about. It had to be realistic, executable and carry the essence of the Chevrolet brand,” sums up Anne Asensio, executive director, GM Design, who led the design team who created the Chevrolet Volt concept.

The Volt concept sedan carries dimensions similar to a Chevrolet Cobalt, with an overall length of approximately 170 inches (4,318 mm), a height of 52.6 inches (1,336 mm) and a width of 70.5 inches (1,791 mm). Minimum overhangs, large wheels, wide tracks, and minimal wheel arch gaps give the car a confident and sporty stance, looking ready to go. The car is aerodynamic, at 0.30 cD drag coefficient.

“The configuration of the drive and energy components dictated we push the front wheels forward and outward to the corners. We wanted to keep the overall dimensions relatively small. This is an urban-centric car, so it needs to fit into small areas. Whats beautiful about the proportions is that when you think about some of the competitors out there, you tend to think of those vehicles as ‘the sensible shoe’. People buy environmentally friendly cars because they feel its the right thing to do, not necessarily because of their looks or to make a fashion statement. But the Volt is different. Its something one would buy because it is so compelling to look at, and the fact that it has the potential to never burn any gasoline – thats just a bonus.” says Bob Boniface, design director, GM Design. He was the lead exterior designer for the Chevrolet Volt concept.

The Chevrolet Volt gives it’s interior a refreshing and open feel thanks to it’s smart usage of ambient light. The Volts roof, side glass and beltline are constructed of GE Plastics transparent, glazed polycarbonate material that delivers the scratch resistance and gloss surface appearance of glass, combined with the formability of a plastic composite. It’s beltline is actually lower than it looks, thanks to a dual belt line which makes use of tinted polycarbonate material that hides a lower beltline from the outside, giving the car a more muscular look. I’m not sure how to explain this exactly, but take a look at the photos and you’ll see what I mean.

The driver monitors information on the car through a dual-mode instrument cluster that GM calls Super Imaging. It’s a dual-mode display which provides two visual levels of vehicle info to the driver. The first level of information – configured similarly to a conventional instrument cluster – provides traditional data in the form of analog, three-dimensional (3D) LED displays, including three gauges for fuel level, speedometer, odometer, battery level and the transmission “PRNDL” indicator. The second level of information – a transparent screen positioned in front of the 3D LED displays – delivers color, animated data related to the Volts advanced propulsion system with a holographic-like appearance. This transparent screen uses invisible flourescent inks, which are illuminated by a small UV laser projector positioned behind the instrument cluster. The ink lights up when illuminated with the projector.

The hybrid powertrain system works the same way as Malcolm Bricklin’s Chinese hybrid car – it runs mainly on electrical motor power instead of a hybrid car’s traditional combustion engine main drive supported by electric motors. In the Chevrolet Volt Concept, the small combustion engine only activates when necessary, recharging the on-board batteries when levels run low. The Chevrolet Volt Concept also has plug-in capabilities, allowing you to charge the car from a normal wall socket in your home. If constantly charged and run within it’s mileage limits, you could use it without using a single drop of gasoline! Range is about 64 kilometers, that would take me to my office in Mid Valley and back everyday, about 20km each way. Once I’m home, I can just plug it in and recharge for usage the next day.

[GALLERY: Click HERE for a gallery of images of the Chevrolet Volt Concept.]