Archive for the ‘General’ Category

 

Feb 09

2017 Chevy Bolt believed due for production fall 2016

 

Sometimes the future seems to drag its heels getting here, and sometimes – like in the case of the Chevy Bolt – it can’t get here fast enough. You may have seen reports over the weekend on the car due for production late next year?

“Your move, Elon,” said Fortune. And sure enough, Model III has been reported quite a bit without revelation yet of a prototype. Nor is it likely to matter that some stories make it sound like Bolt is a done deal prior to actual confirmation by GM. As of yesterday, the Detroit Free Press says the news on the news yet to be officially news is all this will be announced at the Chicago Auto Show.

Meanwhile, the Gigafactory is rushing into production evidenced by these photos (thanks Mark Z), and the world will soon be flush in new lithium-ion batteries! What’s more Panasonic’s CEO says Tesla could balloon vehicle production from 33,000 sales in 2014 to 500,000 in 2020.

Bolt_Concept_NAIAS
 

Officially Chevrolet’s lips remain sealed but sources reportedly told Reuters an under-used facility in Orion Township, Mich. will be where Chevrolet starts annually turning out 25,000-30,000 Bolt EVs for 2017.

The apparently thinly veiled plans for the EV priced from the mid $30s before incentives with over 200-mile range was reportedly further fleshed out from an anonymous GM source.

Reuters says plans are to also develop an Opel badged version for Europe. Whether the Orion township plant will be the source for the Opel remains to be seen.

Not stated is how much a production model would deviate from the progressively designed, flat-floored, spacious concept.

Not stated is how much a production model would deviate from the progressively designed, flat-floored, spacious concept with novelties like pedestal seats.


 

General Motors has officially not confirmed any of this, but news of the Bolt has been marked from the start by leaks that have turned out to be true.

The Bolt was supposed to have been a surprise alongside the 2016 Volt reveal Jan. 12 in Detroit, but we’re told a GM employee too high up for CEO Mary Barra to fire let the cat out of the bag a couple days early to the Wall Street Journal – or so goes that anecdote.

To us, a Volt media rep on Jan. 12 in Detroit downplayed the Bolt saying, “it’s just a concept” as though plans could very well not be in place to do more than view it as a design exercise. But the trend these days is to build concepts much closer to pre-production and an EV fitting its capabilities and price point was generally expected for the past couple of years since former CEO Dan Akerson said GM would not lose to Tesla.

Bolt_rear
 

Officially, present CEO Barra said last month the Bolt signals high aspirations for GM.

“The Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,” said Barra. “Chevrolet believes electrification is a pillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers.”

SEE ALSO: How Much Better Is The 2016 Volt?

 

Along these lines, we were also told in a Detroit interview Jan. 12 with Pam Fletcher, GM’s executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles, GM does indeed have a mapped-out electrification strategy. This is something analysts and observers have questioned, noting gaping holes in product lines, a compliance Spark EV, and decisions such as launching the poorly selling Cadillac ELR.

Bolt_screeen
 

Officially again, Barra has said GM is thinking ahead as it echoes its own tagline for the Chevy brand and seeks to find new roads.

“We have made tremendous strides in technologies that make it easier and more affordable for Chevrolet customers to integrate an all-electric vehicle in their daily lives,” said Barra. “The Bolt EV concept demonstrates General Motors’ commitment to electrification and the capabilities of our advanced EV technology.”

We asked Fletcher whether she would reveal more about GM’s roadmap to electrify select models within its product line. This not surprisingly was met with laughter, and a polite “no” by her and another media rep minding that interview.

SEE ALSO: GM’s Potential BMW i3-Beating Bolt Hails from Down Under

 
Meanwhile, the Bolt is rumored to be a reality and due for production just as everyone paying attention has already conjectured or hinted.

The GM source in an Automotive News report posted yesterday clarified the price question for the Bolt which is intended as a Tesla Model III alternative as “in the mid-$30,000s.” This could mean in excess of $35,000 but that was not stated.

Federal and state subsidies are then expected to bring the bottom line down to $30,000 which has also been reported here and there without always clear qualification.


 

Assuming all this is true, the Bolt would compete with whatever Nissan intends to reveal for its second-generation Leaf, also expected to have range and price in this neighborhood. Tesla has yet to reveal a much-talked-about Model III but the target here too is in this price and range region.

The Model III would be more of a BMW 3-Series competitor, whereas the Leaf and Bolt – which looks much like the BMW i3 – would be hatch-oriented, slower, utilitarian designs.

What BMW has in store to keep its i3 relevant in the face of this pending competition remains to be seen.

The Bolt, said the two unidentified supplier sources to Reuters, would be built on the global Gamma small car platform. This will also undergird the fourth-generation Sonic, expected also in late 2016.

Automotive News observes the 4.3 million-square-foot Orion plant eyed as the production facility for the Bolt – and maybe an Opel variant – has about 1,800 employees. It sat fallow during GM’s bankruptcy period in 2009, but after $500 million invested, re-opened in 2011.

Automotive News observes the 4.3 million-square-foot Orion plant eyed as the production facility for the Bolt – and maybe an Opel variant – has about 1,800 employees. It sat fallow during GM’s bankruptcy period in 2009, but after $500 million invested, re-opened in 2011.


 

It will bring more high-tech recognition to still economically recovering Michigan which also produces the Volt at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, and has other high-tech facilities and endeavors in state as well.

Whether the estimated “25,000 to 30,000” Bolt production target is conservative was not stated, but Nissan sold just over 30,000 Leafs in 2014. Undoubtedly the potential to expand production is being accounted for if needed.

Post Script

 
Hopefully this is true, anyway, given reports say Tesla will expand its total production 1,500 percent in the next five years.

Tesla has room to grow being a niche maker, but then again, the Volt is a niche product according to GM too, right? So, if GM were to expand Voltec beyond its global sales of 21,200 Volt/Amperas and 1,310 U.S. ELRs in 2014 by 15 times, we’d see close to 340,000 Voltec vehicles by 2020 also.

 

Feb 06

$10,000 alternative vehicle rebate being sought again by Obama administration

 

Will this gain traction? Word has it they are trying.

By Sarah Shelton

2011-chevy-volt-capitol-building-01

As part of the Obama administration’s proposed budget, the White House is revisiting and expanding upon the notion of changing a consumer tax credit to point-of-sale rebate for qualifying alternative-energy vehicle purchases.

The proposal would include not just plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars, but will ask for consideration for other advanced-tech cars, including natural gas vehicles.

It was more than three years ago that the White House first put this idea on the table and a sufficient number of legislators have yet to give it their approval.

“The President is proposing to transform the existing $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles into a rebate that will be available to all consumers immediately at the point of sale,” said the administration in February 2011. This it said in an Energy Department report after that year’s State of the Union speech outlining a plan to promote one million electrified vehicles on American roads by Dec. 31, 2015.

More Fairness Needed?

Presently, consumers who buy a plug-in vehicle eligible for an end-of-year tax credit from $2,500 up to $7,500 must front this money with the total price of the sale. Their tax situation must furthermore warrant it. That is, they have the following year to recoup that money, and if their tax liability is less than the potential credit, it is forfeit.

This state of affairs has been viewed as less than equitable, and ironically it’s made more-costly plug-in cars a more-clear decision for higher earners when lower income folks are the ones who are seen as needing the savings and relief the most.

As before, the latest White House proposal includes a $10,000 credit that would be offered as an immediate point-of-sale rebate, not a tax credit to help speed acceptance of alternative energy vehicles.

Congress has yet to create a rebate that substantial, but has seen work on a similar proposal.

SEE ALSO: This Month America Will
Be 30-Percent of the Way To Obama’s 1-Million Plug-in Goal

Last spring, Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) introduced the Electric CARS Act. The bill sets a point-of-sale rebate at $7,500 for “new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicles,” though it doesn’t define vehicle type specifically. Officially titled HR Bill 4584, the act would extend credits to the end of 2020.

“One of the biggest contributors to climate change in Vermont and across the country is vehicle emissions. It is essential that we transition to cleaner, more efficient transportation like electric vehicles,” said Rep. Welch. “The battery life and fuel efficiency of electric vehicles are steadily improving making them more accessible and practical to drive. This legislation will make them more affordable while saving Vermonters money at the gas pump and reducing their environmental footprint.”

The bill was referred to a House committee for further review, and hasn’t received any further action since.

What’s next for the president’s latest plan is unclear. We’re looking into it now, and will report back with more as we’re able.

 

Feb 05

Is 3D printing due to revolutionize automaking?

 

Perhaps you’ve seen the buzz – we’ve seen cynical automobile writers call 3D printing “hyped” – but this technology does hold potential.

The question is who will be successful in discovering, developing and capitalizing upon its best uses?

Take note the Oak Ridge National Lab sees ways automakers could slash costs today.

LM_Strati
 

While 3D printing has been known since the early 80s, with more-recent advancements including the world’s first fully 3D printed prototype car popping onto the scene last year, the potential for this technology has likewise popped into the public consciousness.

Not hurting its advancement is the socially connected and adrenaline-laced Local Motors – the company that made headlines with the all-electric Strati (pictured) as well as the U.S. government’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory Manufacturing Demonstration Facility.

Last month at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, both had 3D printed electric cars they’d whipped together in record time with record cost savings. Actually Local Motors is working with ORNL’s technology and of the two, the feds had arguably the more impressive car, but Local Motors is more bullish on the potential to manufacture whole vehicles, and certainly more driven to do so.

3D Printing 101

 
Also called additive manufacturing, 3D printing can make all sorts of intricate shapes in three dimensions. A 3D printer works from a digital file to lay down “slices” of extruded material.

The still-evolving technology has been used to make things from sandstone sculptures and functional things from cement-like materials, to metallic objects to plastic compounds – such as the cars in question.

ORNL hand finished this widened all-electric Shelby it printed in 24 hours just six weeks after it was first conceptualized. Rapid, relatively inexpensive prototyping is just one potential automakers may embrace.

ORNL hand finished this widened all-electric Shelby it printed in 24 hours just six weeks after it was first conceptualized. Rapid, relatively inexpensive prototyping is just one potential automakers may embrace.


 
For you word-oriented people – you know who you are – by definition, 3D printing really is more akin to “printing.” While the technology seems to evoke molding, no molds or tools are involved in the raw production. Later tools can sand, cut, grind and polish as needed.

The absolute first car believed to have employed 3D printing in its construction is the off-the-charts environmentally friendly Urbee which used 3D printed plastic panels and other bits attached to a conventional internal frame.

Local Motors went a step further in constructing the actual core elements of the whole car from 3D printing.

Not at NAIAS, the Urbee uses 3D printing for its body panels. Its cd is 0.15, and could travel coast to coast on 10 gallons of fuel.

Not at NAIAS, the Urbee by KOR Ecologic has 3D printed body panels. Its cd is 0.15, and the lightweight ethanol hybrid has potential to travel coast-to-coast on 10 gallons of fuel.


 
Local Motors and ORNL are using a Cincinnati Inc. big area additive manufacturing (BAAM) robotically controlled machine to create carbon-fiber reinforced ABS plastic extruded at 250 degrees. There are different processes in the 3D printing world. This one is called fused deposition modeling (FDM). Instead of filament plastic in its extruder, the BAAM machine uses pellets heated in a hopper and applied with precision.

The percentage of ABS and carbon fiber are always being tinkered with – presently about 20-percent carbon-fiber comprises the Strati – and the material has potential to be not unlike BMW’s carbon fiber reinforced plastic in function, if not its manufacturing.

Titanium robotic hand holding sphere fabricated using additive manufacturing.

Titanium robotic hand made by ORNL holding a sphere fabricated using 3D printing of metal. Image: ORNL.


 
Local Motors CFO Jean Paul Capin Gally said they’re looking even to deformable elastomers for bumpers and crash zones to accept impact.

It’s amazing stuff. Maybe all the excitement is justified?

Local Motors

 
Based in Chandler Arizona, with around 100 total employees and operations in Las Vegas and a foothold in Germany too, Local Motors has actually been in business since 2007.

It has more “microfactories” announced in National Harbor, Maryland, and Knoxville Tennessee proximal to ORNL, and these small operations are said to demonstrate right-sized assembly facilities for the niche car maker.

The Strati – 3D printed in 44 hours from 212 layers. Plans are to reduce time to 24 hours. Renault Twizy drivetrain. Can be configured with a multitude of options. Upstairs they were 3D printing this model's successor in a live demonstration at NAIAS. It took five months from concept to finished. Obama has also recognized Local Motors for its quick work.

The Strati – 3D printed in 44 hours from 212 layers. Plans are to reduce this time to 24 hours. Renault Twizy drivetrain. Can be configured with a multitude of options. Upstairs they were 3D printing this model’s successor in a live demonstration at NAIAS. It took five months from concept to finished. Obama has also recognized Local Motors for its quick work.


 
Last year it hired 59 new employees as it branched toward 3D printing from non-printed wild ideas like its gas-powered Rally Fighter car, a Harley-Davidson-based motorcycle, an innovative bicycle, and a sort of electric Big Wheel for adults called the Verrado drift trike.

Its all-electric Strati is for now a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV). It does the Urbee one better in that its chassis and body were 3D printed, thus the “world’s first” designation for the whole car.

This Rally Fighter – $99,9000 base, around $130,000 as configured, provided a wheel-spinning, sliding ride Detroit, It uses a 720-horsepower supercharged LS3 ‘Vette engine. This road-legal truck of a car with 20-inches of King suspension travel to smooth landings from jumps, is plush enough to be called luxurious. Like everything Local Motors makes, it’s highly customizable and ordinarily has no ABS, airbag, or other nannies – but with a big roll cage it’s safe in its own right.

Not 3D printed, this Rally Fighter – $99,900 base, around $130,000 as configured – provided a wheel-spinning ride in Detroit. It uses a 720-horsepower supercharged LS3 ‘Vette engine. This road-legal truck of a car with 20-inches of King suspension travel to smooth landings from jumps, is plush enough to be called luxurious. Like everything Local Motors makes, it’s highly customizable and ordinarily has no ABS, airbag, or other nannies – but with a big roll cage it’s safe in its own right. The Rally Fighter had a brief spot in Transformers 4 and was featured on Jay Leno’s Garage.


 
“To our knowledge, we are the first to attempt to print the body and chassis components of a vehicle together,” says the company. “Local Motors took every part of the car that wasn’t mechanically involved and printed it in a single shot.”

Verrado electric drift trike. "Powerful electric motor pulls you scary fast."

Verrado electric drift trike. Also not 3D printed. “Powerful electric motor pulls you scary fast.”

Underlying it is a Renault Twizy EV drivetrain but the design is “agnostic” says Capin Gally, and the company is not married to batteries, although focused on electric drivetrain to a greater degree than internal combustion.

The little EV that is more like a dune buggy is reported as going as fast as 40-50 mph, but 25 mph is more customary for NEVs which need not meet federal safety regulations.

Depending on how it’s configured, the Strati could sell for between $25,000 and $35,000.

Important to understand is Local Motors merges a number of new-think innovations into its business model it says is elegant, sustainable, job-creating, right-sized, and more.

The material is quite hard with 20-percent carbon fiber. Is this a cheap way to do what BMW is with CFRP? It can be machines as needed.

Printing a car begins with about 1,600 pounds of material. Once the pellets supplied by SABIC are fed into the large printer and melted, the machine extrudes the material at a rate of 36 pounds per hour. The material is quite rigid with 20-percent carbon fiber blended with ABS plastic. Is this a cheap way to do what BMW is with CFRP? It can be machined as needed, polished, painted, wrapped, etc.


 
Vehicle designs come from its community of members – you can be a member if you go to its site and sign on. It’s a kind of a brain trust, and the seed kernel of the idea came from ex-Marine and now CEO Jay Rogers who began the idea at Harvard Business School and started his company that at first was not all about green drivetrain goodness.

That the road toward sustainability and a progressiveness is being taken is clear, as evidenced not just by an interest in electrification, but also by the “microfacrory”.


 
The company has observed how this model stands in stark contrast to a Gigafactory. Of course Tesla wants economies of scale, and truly, microfactories are few and small. The present reality is Local Motors is an expandable niche, and not trying to go huge from its first few steps – but it’s working to grow as needed.


 
Now the Strati has arrived, its being touted as the first of more to come. The company says it will be teasing a road-going car at the New York auto show in April, and obviously next steps are to go from local commuter to real multi-passenger certified car.

It’s one step at a time, but they are working on it with high hopes, and the well wishes of a virtual community in 130 countries.

ORNL

 
Less extroverted, but arguably more impressive are your tax dollars at work – also known as ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility near Knoxville, Tenn.

Here at the former home of the Manhattan Project, the all-electric Shelby Cobra was 3D printed in just 24 hours. The entire project took six technicians six weeks from drawings and CAD program to rolling car shown to the President of the United States and Vice President a few days before the Detroit show.

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden look over ORNL's rolling alternative-energy test bed.

President Obama and Vice President Biden look over ORNL’s rolling alternative-energy test bed. The design allows integrated components to be tested and enhanced in real time with intent to improve use of sustainable, digital manufacturing in the automotive industry.


 
The president refused to sign the car’s hood, Blue said, because of how much his early on endorsement of the Chevy Volt adversely affected the then-politicized car, but he and Joe Biden did autograph a molded continuous carbon fiber hood scoop. This was turned out of a mold created by 3D printing.

The Cobra, says Craig A Blue, Ph.D., the facility’s director, is actually “sizzle” to show the vast potential for industry 3D printing holds.

An automotive mold 3D printed for pennies on the dollar of normal costs, Blue said, was used to turn out this hood scoop for a Mustang Cobra – signed by the president and vice president.

An automotive mold 3D printed for pennies on the dollar of normal costs, Blue said, was used to turn out this hood scoop for a Mustang Cobra – signed by the president and vice president.

It was based on designs provided by Shelby but widened 10 percent to accommodate the electric drivetrain. The chassis and body were printed on ORNL’s beta printer it developed that led to the commercial printer Cincinnati Inc. manufactures.

The body employs chopped carbon fiber, and Blue said they are working toward inexpensive, environmentally sound, and quickly produced continuous carbon fiber.

Powering the Cobra are A123 Systems batteries, a 100-kilowatt motor, but really it’s a rolling test bed. They could just as well convert it into an extended-range EV, a FCV, or what have you in the government’s efforts to develop advanced-tech drivetrain and advanced manufacturing processes.

The Cobra’s rough-printed body was sanded from 200 grit to 2000 grit and painted beautifully by True Design – rather than the raw look of the Local Motors car – which could also receive the same treatment if desired.

ORNL_Cobra
 
It is fully recyclable and if one wanted, after five years or so, Blue said, one could remove the body, chop it up and re-melt it to form a new body of the same or new design.

What potential does 3D printing really have? Automakers such as Volkswagen or Ford or any other, Blue said, could also save millions of dollars and a couple years or so of time in say, 3D printing tooling to create a new vehicle.

And of course, it can be used in making individual parts, such as Koenigsegg did last year for its One:1 supercar with 3D printed internal parts for its side mirrors, air ducts, exhaust parts made of titanium, and turbocharger assembles.

Actually, ORNL is working also on 3D printing miniature engines, motor technologies, carbon fiber, and more.


 
Blue said in his view the real immediate-term potential that major automakers will “wrap their arms around” is not so much printing you your next car but in vast savings in tool making for prototypes and molds.

“That’s the future” said Blue of what’s here and ready to go such as the hood piece Obama and Biden autographed. The near-term future for major automakers is not whole printed cars, but many cost-saving improvements for automotive manufacturing, but the longer term future? Blue left that question open.

“Who’s to say? If I went back two years ago, and you told me we’d make that, and showed me pictures,” he said pointing to the Cobra, “I’d be like, you’re crazy, you’re absolutely crazy; but there it is.

“So I think we don’t want to be encumbered by our perception of where it’s going to go. Dare to dream. Who knows?”

 

Feb 04

Volt has worst month since August 2011, Leaf breaks 23-month record streak

 

Has the first-generation Chevy Volt’s lame duck status been cemented with the revelation of the 2016 replacement last month?

If 542 units sold – the worst since August 2011 – are any indicator, this could be the case.

14_Volt
 

Actually, January was a weak month for others including the Volt’s unofficial – and now often contested – rival of sorts.

Leaf

 
Nissan’s 1,070 sales for its all-electric Leaf in January marked the first time in 23 months that it hasn’t set some form of record.

Its sales were not better year-over-year, or month-over-month, or in any other qualified sense, and represent a decline from January 2014’s 1,252 sales and December 2014′s 3,102 sales.

Nissan's Leaf was also down, but has averaged about double the Volt's sales the past two months.

Nissan’s Leaf was also down, but has averaged about double the Volt’s sales the past two months.

Whether this is much to be concerned over is debatable however, as that 1,252 sales last year was itself a 50-percent decline from a strong December and February 2014’s 1,425 sales also were weak before the Leaf shot back up to 2,507 in March 2014. So, a precedent has already been set for weak January and February Leaf sales.

For its part, Nissan did not mention cheap gas or other factors, but cited practical consumer accounting reasons for December 2014 sales that were three-times better at 3,102 Leafs sold.

“We saw a significant increase in demand in December from Nissan Leaf customers looking to take advantage of federal and state incentives at the end of the tax year, which pulled some sales ahead,” said Brendan Jones, director, Nissan Electric Vehicle Sales and Infrastructure.

Of perhaps of greater concern, observes analyst Alan Baum, are longer term issues.

Launched December 2010 as a 2011 model, the Leaf was refreshed and its price was cut in 2013 as domestic production came online in Tennessee as well.

Last month was the Leaf’s worst month since February 2013 when it sold 653 units and this was the same month Chevrolet revealed its 2016 Volt and Bolt EV concept.

The 50-mile range Volt actually gives close to 60-percent the 84-mile EV range of the Leaf – and then adds range with 41-mpg gasoline backup.

And the Bolt signals a commitment by GM to amp up its green car program.

Bolt EV Concept.

Bolt EV Concept.

More significantly Nissan may not have a new Leaf on sale until early 2017. It has not said much officially on this except much more range – possible more than double to 200-plus miles – is in store.

The Bolt also is to be a 200-mile BEV, as is to be Tesla’s Model III whenever that is finally shown.

Baum suggested Nissan may need to revisit its marketing for the Leaf to keep excitement going while it endures months ahead when the 2016 Volt comes online during the second half of this year, and also as the new Toyota Prius Liftback is revealed later this year.

This strategy has worked for Tesla which in reality sells one model, the S, in a variety of trim levels. Tesla has kept the Model S feeling fresh and relevant and kept sales going with periodic headline-grabbing innovations including an innovative hybrid leasing program, Superchargers, Model P85D, auto pilot, and more.

Admittedly these are all dissimilar tech cars, but the pool of top alternative-energy vehicles is slim, and they are cross-shopped or at least cross-compared to one degree or another.

Volt

 
Coming back to the Volt, it has been declining, and last year finished down 18.6 percent compared to 2013’s 12-month tally.

It does retain a slim hold however on its claim to most plug-in sales since launch with 73,899 sales versus the Leaf’s 73,392. The Leaf however sold double the Volt in round numbers December and January – 3,102 vs, 1,490 and 1,070 vs. 542 respectively.

Odds are good the Volt may cease to be America’s top-selling plug-in by February … until the summer or later when GM rolls out the 2016.

16_Volt_plug
 

The shoe may then be on the other foot when Nissan will have a more-dated product – as dissimilar as an EV and an extended-range EV may be, both are classified as plug-ins, and they have traditionally been compared since both alternatives launched December 2010.

The new Volt however looks seriously improved. GM is putting the final touches on the pre-production show car pictured and emblazoned into the imagination of patiently waiting Volt buyers.

Its 50 miles EV range may be enough for drivers to go 90 percent of the time on electricity alone, GM says, basing this on OnStar telematic data from past drivers who go 80 percent.

 

Feb 03

2015 Volt Earns IIHS Top Safety Pick

 

The 2015 Volt was one of four Chevrolets to earn a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance institute of Highway Safety.

cq5dam.web.1280.1280

To receive this, the Volt needed a good or acceptable score in the small overlap front test and a good rating in moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints.

“Receiving this recognition from IIHS for the 2015 Spark, Volt, Malibu and Equinox is great news for Chevrolet and even greater news for our customers,” said Steven Majoros, director, Chevrolet Cars and Crossover Marketing.


IIHS has not uploaded a 2015 Volt video. This is the 2014.

The entire list of Top Safety Pick – and higher Top Safety Pick Plus – designations cay be seen at the IIHS website.

The IIHS video gives the lowdown on how a car must have and automatic braking system that works in its 12 and 25 mph track test.

Among cars that received the Top Safety Pick Plus in the Volt’s “small car” category are Lexus CT 200h built after Sept 2013, Mazda 3, Subaru Impreza and XV Crosstrek and the Toyota Prius. These first four scored “good” in the small overlap test and the Prius was “acceptable.”

IIHS_15

The Volt also was “acceptable and overall front crash score was “basic” where are the Top-Plus cars were “advanced” to “superior” in front crash protection.

122314-iihs-3
2015 Chevrolet Spark, Volt, Malibu and Equinox have been named 2015 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Picks.

“Consumer metric programs such as IIHS Top Safety Pick and NHTSA NCAP provide our customers with information to make comparisons across vehicle manufacturers for a given market segment. Having these four vehicles named 2015 IIHS Top Safety Picks is a great achievement,” said Jeff Boyer, GM vice president, Global Vehicle Safety.

 

Feb 02

Do the gen-1 and especially gen-2 Volt have hints of Honda in their exterior design?

 

While many people agree the new Volt looks contemporary and refined, it’s being said that its exterior has visual cues from the Honda Civic.

Civic_Volt
2013 Civic Coupe and 2016 Chevrolet Volt.

Actually depending on the angle this may have some truth to it – particularly from the back and side, whereas from other angles there are clear differences.

Also, the first-generation Volt appears to bear some resemblance to a Honda product in the front – specifically, a decade-old Acura TL.

Have you ever driven along the road and looked ahead to see an Acura approaching and wondered whether it was Volt, then realized it wasn’t?

Acura_Volt
2004-2006 vintage Acura and 2011 Volt

Is there anything to these comparisons? If there is, would anyone find it ironic that the first Volt looked like a more up-market sedan while the newer one looks like a down-market coupe (with an extra door) – but the new Volt is perceived nicer? And if so, could that just be because the Acura in question is older, and the Civic is newer?

Or, maybe you see no comparison? Maybe comparisons could be drawn between the 2016 Volt to other vehicles on the road? And for that matter, perhaps other cars echo cues from the Civic as well?

15_Fort_16_Volt
2015 Kia Forte (L) and 2016 Volt

Modern design is often refined in a wind tunnel. The new Volt has a coefficient of drag close to the 0.285 of the gen-one car, said chief engineer Andrew Farah.

Volt_Civic

 

Farah did not say the Volt resulted only from a wind-tunnel – and certainly other shapes are available – but could it be some of the resemblance to a Civic was a result of form following function?

Or, one could also conjecture perhaps upper level demographics would appreciate a car that looks like popular Japanese products and that may have gone through the mind of GM’s designers too?

In any case, we’re not the first to say it, so perhaps it can be discussed in the light of day. Maybe people are just imagining things or making much ado about very little?