▶ Watch Video: Inside Chevrolet’s secret design center

Inside General Motors Design Center — where cameras are rarely allowed — designers and engineers wear virtual reality headsets to get a look and feel for how the company’s vehicles are shaping up inside and out.  CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave received exclusive access to the secret design center in Michigan, where the bulk of the virtual design process happens. 

This week, General Motors announced its latest electric vehicle: a 2024 Chevrolet Equinox. As the car is set to be available for purchase in around a year, General Motors is currently working on building a fully functioning prototype.

Engineers analyze computer models of vehicles to look for areas to improve performance and then a full-scale clay model is tested in General Motors’ wind tunnel.

“It lets us be a lot more agile,” Chevrolet’s interior design director Jennifer Kraska told Van Cleave. “We can do multiple iterations very quickly with this technology so you can really get a sense of what it would be like to be in this specific environment.”

Lead aerodynamics development engineer Joel Ruschman said “small tweaks” in the vehicle can make big differences in factors like the vehicle’s range and price. 

And the $30,000 price tag for the 2024 Chevrolet Equinox is important, according to journalist Tim Stevens who covers the auto industry. 

“Something that can get you over 250 miles for that amount of money, that I think it definitely has potential for selling like hotcakes,” Stevens told Van Cleave.

The newly announced electric car, which executive chief engineer Doug Houlihan called “a game changer,” is the latest installment of General Motors’ plan to go completely carbon neutral by 2040. By the end of 2025, the car manufacturer said it also anticipates 40% of its products to be electric.