Web site The Car Connection on Tuesday managed to get its digital hands on photos of the what is said to be the production version of the Chevy Volt, the much-ballyhooed plug-in hybrid from General Motors.
The photos were made available on GM's media Web site unintentionally, a company representative told The Detroit News. They were quickly taken down from GM's site after The Car Connection posted them.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the photos, besides the fact that the product managers feature prominently in many of them, is that there is a significantly different look between the supposed production version and the concept car.
Whereas the concept car was futuristic and very low to the ground, the photos captured by The Car Connection show a more normal-looking sedan.
Last month, the design director of the Volt released a few photos of the planned styling, showing just corners of the car. He said GM is focusing on creating a very aerodynamic shape to boost fuel efficiency.
GM has said it expects to ship the Volt at the end of 2010. It will be able to drive 40 miles on its lithium ion batteries and have a gasoline engine that will give the car a 400-mile range.
The car has piqued the interest of thousands of consumers, spawning the GM-Volt.com Web site--unaffiliated with General Motors--where people have signed up for a waiting list to get the car.
Financially, GM has a lot riding on the Volt, as it seeks to reduce its dependence on sales of sports utility vehicles and trucks at a time when high gasoline prices and a green-tech vogue are pushing consumers to look for more fuel-efficient cars.
A successful launch of the Volt and reliable battery technology would help demonstrate that GM can compete with other automakers in the market for environmentally oriented vehicles.