General Motors used the Beijing Motor Show to reveal the first of what will likely be several variations on its upcoming Volt E-REV (extended-range electric vehicle) platform. In presenting this strikingly cool multi-purpose hauler that highlights the potential of the company's new E-REV architecture, Bob Boniface, Director of GM North America Crossover Exterior Design, noted that: "The Volt MPV5 Concept takes the efficient design of the Chevrolet Volt and adapts it to the family vehicle crossover segment. It's immediately recognizable as a true member of the Chevrolet family." Boniface led a team that worked together with representatives from GM's Holden design studio in Australia to create the Volt MPV5 Electric Concept.

The Eyes Have It

Finished in Sonic Blue Metallic, the Volt MPV5 Electric Concept shares numerous key visual cues with its sedan cousin but has an even more riveting presence. Virtually the entire front clip was borrowed from the existing Volt and this prototype people mover also relies on the same kind of full underbelly fairings and wind-cheating rocker-sill cladding to lower its drag index. But from the A-pillar back, its dramatically sculpted bodywork is clearly MPV5 specific -- including high-profile wraparound taillamps, boldly bulgy rear fenders and bespoke airflow-optimizing rear-fascia "blades." Completing the mix are 19-inch Volt-inspired forged-alloy wheels wrapped in low-rolling-resistance tires and a dual-pane skylight roof treatment.

Given its more focused transporter mission, the Chevy Volt MPV5 Electric Concept is slightly larger overall than the Volt sedan, boasting 0.6 inch of additional wheelbase and being 7.1 inches longer, 2.9 inches wider and 7.2 inches taller. Inside a cabin trimmed in black and yellow leather, the MPV5 Electric Concept uses the same basic dash and control layouts as the Volt sedan. But as its name implies, the MPV5 offers seating for one additional passenger in its three-across, 60/40 split-folding rear bench. When toting cargo takes priority, dropping the backs expands the capacity of its easy-loading rear bay from 30.5 cu ft to 62.3.

Voltec to the Max

Powering the MPV5's front wheels is the same Voltec setup that will motivate the production Volt sedan that goes on sale later this year. The 150-horsepower electric motor is energized by a T-shaped 16-kilowatt hour lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack that can be recharged in eight hours using a 110V outlet or four on a 220V line. Larger and heavier than the Volt sedan, GM says the MPV5 still will be able to travel up to 32 miles on pure electric power -- roughly double the average Chinese worker's daily commute -- and carry on for up to 300 miles by using its range-extending 1.4-liter gasoline engine and regenerative braking to replenish the Li-ion pack on the fly.

Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group indicated that the world premiere of the Volt MPV5 concept in Beijing was "a clear demonstration of GM's desire to make China a global focus of its advanced technology strategy." While GM offered no official word as to whether it would see a showroom in China -- or in any other market -- the MPV5 Electric Concept package appears to have production intent written all over it. We hope this ultra-efficient hauler does indeed make the transition to volume-build status, and as quickly as possible.

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