Cadillac’s Converj concept may be not be headed to production, but that isn’t stopping General Motors from finding other uses for its “Voltec” plug-in hybrid powertrain. The Chevrolet Volt MPV5 concept, which debuts at the Beijing auto show, suggests the automaker is looking at stuffing the advanced driveline into a compact MPV.
Despite the “concept” suffix, the Volt MPV5 may have more than a fair shake at rolling onto the showroom floor. GM notes the concept is only a little longer and wider than the production 2011 Volt, but several dimensions — including the 108.7-inch wheelbase — are identical to the 2006 Orlando concept, which rode upon a modified version of the Volt’s Delta platform. GM is already hard at work readying the Orlando for the assembly line, so a Voltec-powered version isn’t completely out of the question.
Although it bears some resemblance to the Orlando, stylists in GM’s Australian design studio lent the Volt MPV5 more than a familiar resemblance to the Volt itself. While taller, the front fascia virtually apes the sedan’s nose line for line. Other items, including the one-piece glass hatchback and slender tail lamps, also bear a passing resemblance to its namesake. Designers naturally paid close attention to aerodynamics — a full-length belly pan, extended cladding, and quarter-panel blades all reportedly help the MPV5 slice through air, reducing drag and improving fuel efficiency.
Beneath the skin, the two are more than kissing cousins. The Volt MPV5 utilizes the exact same plug-in hybrid setup found in the production Volt, allowing it to cruise on electric power before firing up the 1.4-liter four-cylinder to recharge the lithium-ion battery pack. GM says the MPV5 can travel 32 miles on electric power alone — approximately eight miles less than the Volt sedan — although the four-cylinder can extend its total range to around 300 miles.
While the Volt MPV5 may provide a look at GM’s next plug-in hybrid, its presence at the Beijing show — coupled with the likes of the GM EN-V concept — also helps the automaker show the Chinese government it is serious about offering green vehicles in the country.
“Rapidly growing demand for personal transportation across China is creating new environmental and energy security challenges,” said Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group. “The world premiere of the Volt MPV5 concept in Beijing demonstrates GM’s desire to make China a global focus of its advanced technology strategy.”
If ultimately approved for production, the Volt MPV5 could launch as soon as 2012 — roughly a year after both the Volt and Orlando are due to reach Chevy dealers nationwide.