TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The design team for General Motors' Volt plug-in hybrid car has added six to seven miles to the car's electricity-only range by improving aerodynamics.
"Air does not like to go around sharp corners. It creates turbulence and drag," Bob Boniface, GM's director of design for the Chevrolet Volt and E-Flex studio, said last week at the Management Briefing Seminars here.
So Boniface made numerous changes to the original concept's design. The goal: a 40-mile range per full electric charge. More than 70 percent of U.S. commutes are less than 40 miles, GM says.
Boniface explained a number of the changes.
-- The concept originally had a blunt front with a sharp crease on the corner. The production version has a rounded look.
-- The production car's grille texture is largely sealed, sending air down the side of the car instead of through the engine compartment.
-- A curving crease down the back corner of the concept has been smoothed. Both there and on the spoiler, Boniface said, GM wanted the design "so air leaves the car very quickly and cleanly." GM added 5 millimeters to the spoiler, he said.
-- The concept's sideview mirror started with a patch mount, where the structure holding the mirror extends horizontally from the door. For the production version, that was changed to a post mount. The mirror now sits on a post lifting from the vehicle's side and allows air to flow past more freely.