Inside the Glass Used in Chevy’s
New E-Car Volt
by Penny Stacey
|Chevrolet estimates that
the Volt will save its owners about 500 gallons of gasoline based
on 40 miles of daily driving and 15,000 miles annually.
The all-electric Chevrolet Volt has been one of the most anticipated
vehicle launches in recent years, and, though hybrid
vehicles have become more mainstream than in years past, the Volt actually
isn’t a hybrid at all. It uses electricity as its primary power source
and gasoline as its secondary source to power the vehicle.
Based on its ground-breaking capabilities, it’s no surprise that every
single component of the vehicle is engineered to the
|The Volt is not a hybrid.
Hybrid vehicles require both an engine and a battery to provide full
vehicle performance capability, according
highest specifications—including the glass. According to Tom Hagen, Chevrolet
Volt glass engineer, the company started researching what glass would
be used, who would supply it, and more, early in the design process.Pilkington
was chosen to supply the glass, based on “quality, cost, service and technical
knowledge,” according to Hagen.
baseline comparison, Chevrolet estimates that the cost per mile
to operate the Chevrolet Volt is approximately two cents per mile
The vehicle utilizes solar-resistant glass in all facets—from the windshield
to sidelites and backlites—in an effort to not only keep the vehicle cool
but also to reduce the load on the vehicle’s air conditioner and reduce
carbon dioxide emissions. And Hagen expects we’ll be seeing more of this
on vehicles in the future.
“There is an industry and an [Environmental Protection Agency] trend toward
achieving solar control in vehicles,” says Hagen.
In addition, the vehicle has an acoustic windshield to reduce the amount
of noise that is transmitted through the glass. While acoustic glass is
growing in popularity, the Volt had a special need for this due to its
“A non-internal combustion vehicle creates a different noise signature
than a standard internal combustion vehicle, and, because of that noise
signature, we applied these technologies in order to improve the customer
experience in the vehicle,” says Hagen.
Hagen says glass has a consistent density per mass of unit, but the thickness
does vary—and for the Volt this was no different.
“The only things you can change are the size of the glass and the thickness
of the glass. The thickness was optimized for the Volt as we do for all
vehicles,” he says.
Aerodynamics also was a key factor in the vehicle’s design.
“The windshield is what we would call a ‘fast rake’ windshield … A more
traditional sedan would have a more vertical windshield,” Hagen says.
“This one is a little more horizontal and that is done for the aerodynamics
of the vehicle.”
This is standard for most fuel-efficient vehicles.
“You’ll find that they’re all very similar,” says Hagen. “In the case
of the back window, the installation angle is extremely low—between 14
and 15 degrees; this has been designed this way for aerodynamics. That
compares to a sedan, which would be in the 35- to 45-degree angle range.”
So what happens when the Volt’s windshield needs to be replaced? Hagen
says the process should be somewhat conventional.
“We cannot ignore in our designs that the windshield of the vehicle will
be replaced in the life of the vehicle,” he says. “I frequently remove
and replace the glass in our vehicles just to prove to myself that our
criteria for serviceability is being met.”
Repair should be standard as well, according to Hagen.
And, though the backlite’s defroster is optimized to minimize power consumption
and maximize performance, Hagen says it utilizes “similar technology as
other vehicles, so from a service standpoint, it’s very similar.”
Penny Stacey is the editor of AGRR magazine.
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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.