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Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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The Chevy Volt's Predecessor: GM's 512 Series

Posted April 20, 2011 9:30 AM by dstrohl

Well before the first oil crisis of the 1970s, a bunch of high-level thinkers got together to exchange ideas and display prototypes of vehicles designed to minimize dependence on petroleum products. What's slightly surprising, however, is the fact that GM not only presented a pair of small cars at the event - one electric, the other designed for fuel efficiency - they had actually built the cars a few years prior, well before the general public much cared about such things.

Those two cars actually came from a somewhat larger initiative at GM that resulted in the four 511 and 512 Urban concept cars. The sole XP511 car, a three-wheeler, used an Opel 1.1L four-cylinder engine to push around its 1,300 pounds of weight. The three 512 cars, all four wheelers, used gasoline (XP512), electric (XP512E) and gasoline/electric hybrid (XP512H) drivetrains.

Built in 1969 for Transpo '72, none of the three directly influenced any production car, though it does appear that XP512H's hybrid technology - possibly borrowing ideas from GM's many years of building diesel hybrid powertrains for locomotives - did show up again in GM's somewhat larger XP833, and GM's research into electric and hybrid powertrains did result in a number of patents, filed from 1960 to 1971.

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