When Bob Boniface, the Volt's Chief Designer, officially presented the first 'IVer in motion' on July 28th (also known to him as Christmas morning), that Volt was painted in the finest color known to man, which of course is not a color at all, it is black. While this made the Volt look impressive, it made design changes a little hard to pick up on.
A few weeks later at a media event, another IVer Volt was put through its paces by Frank Weber, who is officially 'King of the Engineers'at GM. (Ok, that is not his actual title, but it is way too long to repeat, and too boring to remember)
This particular Volt gave us the opportunity to more easily judge/identify the changes, because it was in the worst color known to man, Robin's Egg Blue.
Actually, that is bold-faced lie. Bob Boniface just recently sent me a note telling me that particular IVer was in "e-coat gray without paint," not Robin's Egg Blue. (However, my making that mistake illustrates my point...that Robin's Egg Blue is a terrible color, and all previously built Volts in that color (or similar) need to be used in crash tests...but I digress)
As you can see from the illustrations, the hood has been changed into more of a bonnet, and the front side quarter panels have been adjusted accordingly. This type of hood, while often seen on trucks and SUV/CUVs is a rarity for sedans.
What was unclear is if this design change is functional or aesthetic. From first glance, it appears it could allow for more access, or perhaps it offers additional protection/redundancy from the elements for the sensitive components inside. Then again, perhaps Bob Boniface just really liked the new Ford Fiesta and this is his homage to it.
When I inquired about the subject, all of those first assumptions proved incorrect, and Mr. Boniface has this to say:
"Hood cutline change was made for compliance with European Pedestrian Protection regulations. Hood cutines tend to be very stiff due to metal flanging and the original ones fell into test zone for head impact."
So there you have it, functional changes. However, he did add his thoughts on what that meant for the aesthetics as well:
"I was happy to move them because I think the side view line makes the fender appear thinner."
Taking the reason for the changes to its logical conclusion, one could assume these changes will see their way to the Opel Ampera project as well.
Personally, I think the new changes give it a little more of the "nerd's shoe" mystique, but it also gives the Volt a little more uniqueness...and that can't be a bad thing.
Sidenote: Frank Weber's official title actually is "Global Vehicle Line Executive/Global Vehicle Chief Engineer, Global Electric Vehicle Line Team" ...that has to be one whale of a desk plaque.