In the face of dismal sales outlooks (although the Malibu may help turn that around next year), a weak dollar and - aside from a few recent additions - a stagnant model lineup, GM is charging forward with its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. The single teaser shot released today shows the front end in some detail, but the rest of the car is obscured. GM is focusing on the aerodynamics of the Volt as a key method to improve range, speed and efficiency of their most cutting-edge design.

Aerodynamic drag can account for up to twenty percent of the energy necessary to propel a vehicle, so improving the ease with which air flows over, under and around the car will improve fuel efficiency, no matter what fuel is used - electricity, E85 or gasoline. Through wind-tunnel testing and design, GM says it has come up with a production Volt that has 30 percent less drag than the concept Volt.

Though the teaser shot doesn’t reveal much about the production Volt, what is shown actually resembles the concept Volt quite closely, although there appears to be a more rounded appearance than the knife-edged Volt concept. The horizontally-split grille, the headlight/foglight arrangement and the general proportion remain very similar between the two.

The Volt is not expected to hit production until 2010 or later. When it does, it will likely store its electricity in lithium-ion batteries, which will enable the Volt to make commutes of up to 40mi (64km) on electricity alone. Earlier statements by Bob Lutz, GM’s Vice Chairman, revealed that the production Volt would not resemble the concept Volt too closely, but would remain “aggressive”.