Source: Production Chevy Volt Front-End to Feature Saturn Ion Styling Cues

The Detroit News reported this past weekend that the innovative Chevrolet Volt concept was put on display for one final time in Washington, DC last week. "The Chevy Volt is about to go into hiding," wrote the paper. "When General Motors debuted the concept version of the battery-powered Chevy at the 2007 auto show, its techno-sporty looks drew standing ovations. It was a design diva, accepting as many exterior accolades as its revolutionary powertrain."

Unfortunately, when GM engineers later tested the car's aerodynamics they found that the "concept's front cuts through wind slightly better than a truck." As a result, designers went back to the drawing board, restyling the car in a way that will allow it to cut through the air more efficiently without straying too far from the concept's original look. GM is keeping the car's new styling tightly under wraps, but insiders expect the finalized production-ready version of the Volt to be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next January.

That being said, Chuck Squatriglia from Wired's "Autopia" recently wrote about the progress GM is making bringing the Volt's advanced propulsion system into production. In addition to providing a status update on the powertrain development, he reported that one of his sources – who claims to have seen the new look – says the front-end of production-bound Volt features both Saturn Ion and Saab styling cues.

Bob Lutz, the guy cracking the whip to make sure the Chevrolet Volt gets built by 2010, spent some time behind the wheel of a Volt test mule and couldn't resist the obvious pun, calling it "electrifying." GM's engineers have been flogging the mules – known formally as "engineering development vehicles" – pretty hard for a couple of months now and they've got the lithium-ion batteries and electric drivetrain pretty much sorted. Lutz finally got a chance to take one of the range-extended electric vehicles for a spin and notes on his blog, "While the car is still most definitely a work in progress, the thrill of driving electrically – that instant, silent torque – is certainly present and accounted for." The Volt is not an electric car like the EV1. It uses a lithium ion battery that, during testing, has provided a full electric range of 40 miles. Beyond that, a small gasoline engine drives a generator that charges the batteries on the fly; you also can plug it in to 110-volt household outlet. The electric drivetrain, coupled with the internal combustion engine, give the car an expected range of 640 miles. We're still waiting to see what the car will look like. GM hasn't said when it will unveil the production model, but we're betting on seeing it at the Detroit Auto Show in January. For what it's worth, Aaron Bragman over at Global Insight has seen a model and tells us, "The production car looks much closer to a Saturn Ion. The front end looks kind of like a Saab, kind of like an Ion. The tail is still high. It looks a little BMW-esque."

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