Sen. Carl Levin, Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu, GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre and Gov. Jennifer Granholm admire the new Volt battery. The battery was the first to roll off the assembly line, opened Wednesday.  (Source: Clarence Tabb, Jr./The Detroit News)

The 2011 Chevy Volt at CES 2010
Volt charges ahead in its path to market

GM engineers have been hard at work putting Chevy Volt pre-production vehicles through the test rounds.  Even as the pre-production continues, GM is warming up its production facilities to ready them to mass produce the nation's first consume mainstream electric vehicle launch.

Yesterday in Brownstown, Mich. the first 16 kWh (8.0 kWh usable) Volt battery stack rolled off GM's new assembly line.  The battery will power the Volt's 40 mile all-electric battery range.  The inaugural event drew U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre, and many other politicians who cheered the Volt's success as a sign of the start of a turn around for Michigan.

Secretary Chu commented, "We will recapture the lead we have lost and become the world leader in clean vehicles.  This is where the real work begins. I know we will succeed."

The federal government, under Secretary Chu's guidance, has offered $106M USD in grant money to GM to help with the new battery production facility.  Overall the federal government has given GM approximately $241M USD in Volt grant money.  While that may seem like a lot, it's less than the $750M USD the Chevy Volt is estimated to have cost GM to develop.  The new 160,000 square foot battery plant is estimated to have cost $43M USD -- the rest of the government grant is likely to go towards operations costs.

One thing that may determine whether that investment pays off is the vehicle's final cost, not yet announced.  Many critics and cynics are already blasting the vehicle over rumors that the price will be over $40,000.  However, speaking to the press at a recent event, Jon Lauckner, GM's head of global program management, said the cost could be significantly lower that $40,000.  He stated, "We have until this summer to figure that out."

If GM can hit a low enough price to deliver a vehicle under $30,000, with the $7,500 federal tax credit, that could be very important -- for the psychological significance with consumers if nothing else.  Mr. Lauckner comment also reflects upon GM's shift in production plans -- originally GM planned to launch the Volt in Fall 2010.  Now it plans to begin a limited rollout towards the end of the summer, barring delays.  An early rollout would likely be a small quantities release and could provide GM with helpful customer feedback on the vehicle.

Starting in the spring, the new battery plant will begin shipping its batteries to the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant which will put together the finished production Volt.  Before then, batteries will be sent to Warren, Mich. to be tested.  GM is manufacturing the Volt's 4-cylinder gasoline backup engine generator at its Flint Engine South plant.

GM will initially hopes to sell 8,000 Volts in the 2011 model year.  It plans to ramp up production to eventually reach 60,000 units a year.  The new battery production facility will also be employed in producing battery packs for the upcoming Cadillac Converj electric vehicle when it goes to market.  The Converj, formerly a very popular concept, was recently greenlighted by GM to become a production vehicle.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

Latest Blog Posts
The Best Android Apps
Saimin Nidarson - May 20, 2017, 6:16 AM

Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki