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Innovation & Design

GM Opens Electric Design Studio

The E-flex Systems Studio will be dedicated to developing next generation vehicles using the E-flex electric propulsion system

The next incarnation of the Chevrolet Volt concept, first revealed at the 2007 NAIAS last January, is currently being developed at GM's new studio dedicated to next generation electrically-driven vehicles.

Located within GM's Advanced Design Center, which was responsible for the first Chevrolet Volt concept car, the new E-Flex Systems Design Studio will be charged with developing a variety of vehicles using the E-flex propulsion system. It will be the only studio specifically designated to designing a wide variety of electric plug-in vehicles with a range extender.

"As soon as the project kicked off, I knew we needed a dedicated team focused on the development of E-Flex based vehicles and that team needed its own creative space," said Ed Welburn, Vice President of Global Design. "To accelerate the program, we needed the right mix of designers and engineers from the original show car team and people with experience from the production side."

Bob Boniface, Design Director for the E-flex Systems Design Studio and the Chevrolet Volt, is responsible for a team of approximately 45 creative designers, sculptors, design engineers, scientists and administrative staff. He was the lead for the exterior design of the Chevrolet Volt concept. According to Boniface, this historical program offers a new set of challenges and opportunities.

"We handpicked a team of both young and experienced designers who are enthusiastic, eager and believe in the cause as I do," said Boniface. "They want to find a better way, a solution to our dependency on petroleum, and that's what this car is about."

The design team has been working with engineering, aerodynamicists and other scientists to develop an energy efficient Chevrolet Volt by optimizing aerodynamics.

"One of the ways design can contribute to the efficiency of any vehicle is through the aerodynamics of the body shape," said Welburn. "The collaboration between a designer and an aerodynamicist can not only contribute to improved fuel economy or extended range, but can produce beautiful and different body shapes."

The studio renovation, which began last June, places the new E-flex studio in a space that was once used as an auditorium for product reviews and special events. As an adaptive reuse of the existing facility, the new studio features sustainable and energy efficient materials.

Provided by Car Design News—The leading online resource for automotive design

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