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Engineers have started to hand assemble the first "real" Chevy Volts -- the finalized pre-production test models.  (Source: General Motors)
Newly built car will be used for critical testing

The Chevy Volt, General Motors' pride and great hope for the future, has entered the pre-production phase, with engineers assembling a vehicle that looks identical to the design that is planned to be coming off the assembly  line late this year.  After months and years of waiting, GM's launch of the first mainstream electric vehicle is almost at hand.

GM Executive Director for Research and Development Dr. Alan Taub, speaking at a conference at the North Carolina Solar Center at NCSU, says that he believes the Volt will be integral to GM's turnaround.  He stated, "The key is to be ready when the market rebounds with technologies and vehicles that people got to have.  We really think the Volt represents the next generation in propulsion technology around what we are calling the reinvention of the vehicle.  It's going to be electrified drive. It's going to be connected to the world through electronics."

The new pre-production models will be play a critical role in preparing for the vehicles deployment.  They will be used as integration models, tweaking minor parameters to help lower wind resistance.  They will also be battered and bruised to make sure the vehicle is road-worthy.

Previous "test drives" by the press in "Volts" were not really a Chevy Volt -- rather, they were a similarly designed Chevy Malibu or Cruze-based test mule.  The current production marks the first Volt of the finalized design to be produced.  The cars are being built at the Technical Center in Detroit, MI.  It takes two weeks for engineers to hand-assemble one of the cars.

GM spokesman Rob Peterson cheered the news, stating, "The purpose for the integration vehicle builds is two-fold.  First, they validate our production design, vehicle safety and performance capabilities. Just as important, the build activity provides valuable insight into the final vehicle assembly process to ensure a high-level of build quality and manufacturing efficiency when production begins in November 2010."

By mid-July, GM will have ramped up the pre-production to a rate of 10 vehicles per week.  GM will have a fleet of 80 pre-production Volts by the fall.  The Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly will start mass producing pre-production models next spring, providing "several hundred" vehicles to invade showrooms across the country.

Automotive industry experts say that vehicles like the Volt face a tough road ahead, but may offer solutions to critical environmental and national security problems.  States, Anne Tazewell, of the North Carolina Solar Center at NCSU, "There are a lot of variables, and one is our will to continue investing in this.  We have an environmental imperative and we really do have an economic imperative because of our reliance on imported oil. But we're also kind of battling the more immediate economic situation.”



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Say what you want
By FITCamaro on 5/28/2009 9:52:21 AM , Rating: 5
But I have to say, despite the Volt not getting the far hotter concept styling, it's still a fairly handsome looking sedan. Doesn't scream eco-freak like the Prius does. Has an aggressive, techy look to it.




RE: Say what you want
By thekdub on 5/28/09, Rating: -1
RE: Say what you want
By clovell on 5/28/2009 10:57:38 AM , Rating: 4
Reminds me of the latest gen Civics.


RE: Say what you want
By FITCamaro on 5/28/2009 11:04:56 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
On another note, how exactly does this vehicle offer solutions to national security? Is it IED-resistant? Will it be used in peacekeeping missions overseas? I don't see using imported oil as a breach of national security, nor the non-use as a solution to national security.


What? Where did this come from?

And yes, it does look like a TL. But I actually kinda like the looks of the Malibu though. Better than the Camry by a long shot.


RE: Say what you want
By GaryJohnson on 5/28/2009 1:07:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What? Where did this come from?

From the article:
quote:
Automotive industry experts say that vehicles like the Volt face a tough road ahead, but may offer solutions to critical environmental and national security problems.


RE: Say what you want
By FITCamaro on 5/28/2009 1:34:24 PM , Rating: 5
Ok but that has absolutely nothing to do with what I said?


RE: Say what you want
By bhieb on 5/28/2009 1:44:15 PM , Rating: 5
Now Fit don't go using all your fancy logic here. How's he supposed to hijack your thread with another long winded political flame war if you expect him to stay on topic.


RE: Say what you want
By GaryJohnson on 5/28/2009 1:56:52 PM , Rating: 1
It has to do with what you quoted and asked about.


RE: Say what you want
By thekdub on 5/30/2009 2:43:33 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't mean to sound like I was directing that statement towards you, I just didn't feel like putting it in an entirely new reply. Sorry for the confusion ;)


RE: Say what you want
By BillyBatson on 5/28/2009 1:57:43 PM , Rating: 1
what!? malibu better than the camry!? looks are subjective but I personally feel that the camry is FAR better looking than the malibu. The malibu has an attractive front end but the rear is flat, ugly, and looks like it belongs on a much much cheaper car.


RE: Say what you want
By Spuke on 5/28/2009 2:43:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
what!? malibu better than the camry!? looks are subjective but I personally feel that the camry is FAR better looking than the malibu.
Looks are subjective and I find the Malibu and Camry to be equal looks wise. Both are plain jane but that's what that market wants. I do find the Altima, Accord, and Mazda6 to be much better looking.


RE: Say what you want
By Regs on 5/28/2009 9:24:40 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe they're arming it with a M60 7.62mm machine gun and a 360 turret on it. Who knows.


RE: Say what you want
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 5/28/2009 12:12:53 PM , Rating: 5
When you keep oil prices up, you give money to people who are openly anti-American, such as Venezuela and many middle Eastern countries. Oh yeah, Russia, too. And if the crap hits the fan, where are we going to get enough oil to keep going?

Our energy resources should be as self-contained as possible for the greatest national security. That is true for any country. Textbook national security.

After 9/11, there were commercials showing pot smokers saying, I just want a little high, and then saying that their money goes right to terrorists. They should have shown a soccer mom driving an SUV with the same message.

I hope I am not sounding too right wing nut. I never voted for W.


RE: Say what you want
By Jeffk464 on 5/29/2009 12:01:34 AM , Rating: 2
That doesn't sound right wing to me. the right wing nuts were the ones trying to stop any kind of new standards for mileage. Liberal "weenies" like the Europeans believed in taxing the hell out of gasoline to get people to conserve. The funny thing is GM spent decades fighting any legislation that would hinder their ability to build gas guzzlers, and the gas guzzler line up is what killed them. If any company ever deserved to go out of business its GM.


RE: Say what you want
By therealnickdanger on 5/29/2009 12:08:33 PM , Rating: 1
As a "right wing nut" that voted for "W" twice without any real remorse until the last year of his office, I hoped and continue to hope (in vain, I'm sure) that we will DRILL our own oil and put tons of nuclear plants on the fast track. Most Americans on the hard left seem to think that the solution to the oil problem is alternative fuels and are willing to bankrupt our country to see it accomplished. But it's very simple, build rigs, refineries, and power stations HERE in the f***ing USA and you'll not only reduce the COST of energy, our RELIANCE on other nations, but also CREATE jobs for our citizens! Sounds like a triple-win to me!

Does that sound too "radical right"? WTF?


RE: Say what you want
By Cypherdude1 on 5/28/2009 7:38:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
On another note, how exactly does this vehicle offer solutions to national security?

It relates to national security because any electric car reduces the USA's dependence on foreign oil. If the USA only used electric cars, we would no longer need Middle Eastern or Venezuelan oil. We would no longer care what happens in the Middle East and we could bankrupt Venezuela which is also hostile to us.

While no longer depending on foreign oil is fine, using thousands (or millions) of electric cars creates another problem. Electric cars, in fact nearly every rechargeable battery, uses lithium. From what has been reported on DailyTech, lithium is also in short supply and most comes from Bolivia which is also not exactly friendly to the USA!

I am starting to have doubts that using electric cars will eliminate our problems because we may just be simply switching one trouble spot, the Middle-East, for another. The USA has not really even started using electric cars. Hopefully, as electric car technology matures, we will find ways to make car batteries more powerful, efficient, and cheaper. DailyTech also reported that scientists have found a way to make lithium 3 times more powerful by combining it with cheaper sulfur.


RE: Say what you want
By Regs on 5/28/2009 10:28:37 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, it's called comparative advantage. We export goods we are efficient in making, and import goods that would cost us more to make. International trade allows a nation to produce goods in which it has a cost advantage and then trade them for imported goods in which it has a cost disadvantage.

So either way you look at it we're kind of screwing ourselves. If we want to start spending more money on items that we are less efficient producing than importing or increasing our opportunity costs to a point where we can no longer afford the human capital, expenses, and capital to wage war on countries that attack us, then it defeats the purpose.

We also know gasoline is the cheaper alternative , for now. How many in this nation are going to sacrifice their standard of living for a more expensive alternative? Ok -ok I’ll try to keep this more on a macro scale.

Politicians and economists alike make decisions, policies and theories on the basis of ceteris paribus, all things remaining equal. We know all things can't possibly remain equal or unchanged, but making predictions with those added variables are impossible and we also know it's inevitable that some predictions fail. Though we live with it knowing that we rather be approximately right than dead wrong.

Let’s take North Korea for an example. With their rate of poverty, malnourishment, and a population of 24 million (40th rank in the world) you'd think they couldn't possibly be the 4 largest military in the world. Though the fact is they devote 16 percent of their output for their military while the USA only uses 3.4 percent (remember our GDP larger). What on earth are we importing from North Korea that could sustain such a beast? The same beast that tested a underground nuclear warhead not too long ago?

Just something to think about...


RE: Say what you want
By Hiawa23 on 5/29/2009 1:49:02 PM , Rating: 2
It relates to national security because any electric car reduces the USA's dependence on foreign oil. If the USA only used electric cars, we would no longer need Middle Eastern or Venezuelan oil. We would no longer care what happens in the Middle East and we could bankrupt Venezuela which is also hostile to us.

I understand the whole national security thing, especially since we are now seeing gas prices moving back up, * I almost go into a depression everytime I have to go to pump, as we are being shafted & it seems nothing can be done at all. I think it is unrealistic to assume that most of America will even be in any position to buy these expensive electric vehicles, so for many Americans the cars that they now own are going to be it for them, so why are we not seeing any push for more drilling, & don't start with the bashing Obama stuf, cause W was in office 8 years & nothing was done. How is it that regular gas now cost more than diesel in some places? It makes me angry cause it seems that someone is up & whnever they decide to increase the price of gas it rushes at the drop of a hat.


RE: Say what you want
By GWD5318 on 5/28/2009 10:32:46 AM , Rating: 3
I agree. It doesn't look like an appliance like the 2nd gen Prius did. Let's hope it doesn't drive like an appliance either.


RE: Say what you want
By omnicronx on 5/28/2009 11:05:23 AM , Rating: 2
Looks like a squished up Malibu to me. I'm starting to like the design the more I see it.

http://www.autospectator.com/cars/files/images/Che...


RE: Say what you want
By bhieb on 5/28/2009 12:02:45 PM , Rating: 2
Of course it better not look like those econo boxes with a near $40K expected price. I really do hope it takes off, but I just don't see it at over $30K. Prius and Insight are not just popular because of their MPG, but also because of the low price tag in general.

If you have $22K to spend on a new car your choices are varied, but still rather bland so why not get the bonus of higher MPG. However if your spending well over $30K MPG alone will not sway most. That price range has a lot of nice vehicles with other things to offer that may out way the MPG angle. To that end the styling better be nice because your competition is not a econo box Civic/Corolla it is the TL, Beemers, CTS and such.


RE: Say what you want
By Keeir on 5/28/2009 2:19:34 PM , Rating: 3
You know...

The Volt is really a fairly cheap peice of machine when you look at it from a different perspective.

Its the First and Only -MASS- produced Electric Auto ever. Not only is it an Electric Auto, but it comes standard with gasoline back-up.

As such, a 40,000 dollar price tag seems reasonable when machines like the iMiev cost 37,000+

http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/07/14/mitsubishi...

Telsa's cars are marvels, but run 60,000+ dollars (probably like 70,000 for the long range edition)

The BMW Mini's were leased at 500 dollars a month... thats a final purchase price in the high 30,000s.

Furthermore, as the first of its type like all technology the Volt is priced far higher than the long term price.


RE: Say what you want
By Spuke on 5/28/2009 2:45:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Telsa's cars are marvels, but run 60,000+ dollars (probably like 70,000 for the long range edition)
Tesla's CAR is over $100k. Not sure where you got the other numbers from.


RE: Say what you want
By Doormat on 5/28/2009 5:31:41 PM , Rating: 2
The Tesla Model S - 160 mi on the "cheap" battery pack. $60K.


RE: Say what you want
By Spuke on 5/28/2009 6:55:16 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The Tesla Model S - 160 mi on the "cheap" battery pack. $60K.
That's not for sale. Who's knows what the price and specs will be like when (if) it does go on sale.


RE: Say what you want
By Doormat on 5/28/2009 10:29:41 PM , Rating: 2
The Volt isn't on sale yet either nor has an official price been announced. I dont see why you're making that distinction.


RE: Say what you want
By bhieb on 5/28/2009 5:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
Not really saying it is not reasonably price for the tech involved, I think it is. What I'm saying is that the consumer does not care. They look at "what can I get for X dollars", and unfortunately for GM I think that most will find there are more tempting vehicles that offer more than the MPG savings alone can overcome.

Don't get me wrong I like the Volt, but that does not mean I'll rush out and buy one given what that money could be used to buy instead. My point is that the existing hybrids are attractive because of the low price moreso than the MPG savings. In that price range you look for things to make the car less bland, and the MPG savings also make a bigger difference at that budget level.

Take Lexus for example I don't know the numbers but I really doubt their GS450H or LS600H are topping any sedan sales charts. Once you reach a certain price level hybrids become a niche, IMHO that price is $30K. Above that, and there are simply better options.


RE: Say what you want
By Keeir on 5/28/2009 6:31:50 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Not really saying it is not reasonably price for the tech involved, I think it is. What I'm saying is that the consumer does not care. They look at "what can I get for X dollars", and unfortunately for GM I think that most will find there are more tempting vehicles that offer more than the MPG savings alone can overcome.


I disagree with this statement in principle. Consumers are known to act from sometimes illogical reasons that increase thier happiness level.

People seem obsensed with the Volt suddenly being a 500,000 unit a year car. That was never in the plan at this early stage. First year production : 10,000. Second year production: 50,000.

I also disagree with
quote:
My point is that the existing hybrids are attractive because of the low price moreso than the MPG savings.


The Honda Insight is the only one that falls into this category. While the Prius is not absurdly expensive, the average sale price of the Prius will be in the 25,000+ range. At 25,000 dollars (or 20,000 plus 5,000 in savings) there are simply better options as well.

Hybrids appeal to the illogical consumer that gains utility from using less gas. IE consumers willing to pay more than the cost of the gas to use less of it. Apparently, there are millions of these customers willing to put down for a Prius. A Volt has the potential to lesson gas usage by 100s of gallons a year.... I bet GM can find a few 100,000 across the world willing to put down the 40,000 initial price required to build the 25,000 dollar mass market appeal car.


RE: Say what you want
By Spuke on 5/28/2009 6:58:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I bet GM can find a few 100,000 across the world willing to put down the 40,000 initial price required to build the 25,000 dollar mass market appeal car.
There's already a growing waiting list for the Volt. GM will sell every single one of them. Quite frankly, if my income was double what it is now, I'd buy one too.


RE: Say what you want
By Keeir on 5/29/2009 2:40:27 PM , Rating: 2
I would too.... but thats because looking at the technologies availeble today, the Volt repersents the "50 mpg" car that I think has the best chance to allow for seemless transition to fully electric travel.

The Prius is great on fuel economy, but performance is... lacking. The Prius and Insight systems still rely on pushing the motor into inefficient zones for peak power or sizes that lower efficiency at cruise. Thus, I a can't really see a 200 hp/200 ft lb Prius.

The Tesla Cars are great on performance and fuel economy... but suffer from long range anxiety. Even at 300 miles... you only have 300 maximum miles before a very long recharge time. This is just unacceptable from a "one car" solution.

Diesel cars are good on fuel economy and performace (and cost!) but the fancy emission systems to reduce pollution that I care about (Particular etc) puts me off a bit.

Wheras the Volt over a year could
#1 put out the low amounts of real pollution (Only Telsa would be better and only marginally)
#2 Use almost no liquid fuel (Only Telsa would be better. I personally would use less than 50 gallons/year with a volt. I use around 500 now)
#3 Allow great performance (Again, Only Telsa would be better as it gets rid of extra wieght. Diesel could be a close)
#4 Be a "one car" solution to every need (Sigh, if only we have insta recharge batteries... fancy battery switching stations just don't cut it unless there are thousands and thousands of them)
#5 Make efficient and cost effective use of battery materials. (Volts type could be made a 20/30/40/etc to allow each people to use thier battery close to 100% every day. Tesla's flaw is that you may have a 53 kWh battery, but only use 15 kWh on a regular basi)


RE: Say what you want
By Noya on 5/28/2009 7:37:24 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Has an aggressive, techy look to it.


Yes, but it's performance stats are as mediocre as the Prius and Insights.


RE: Say what you want
By callmeroy on 5/29/2009 10:02:07 AM , Rating: 2
Agree....finally a "eco friendly" car I would not embarrassed to be seen driving....


RE: Say what you want
By Hiawa23 on 5/29/2009 12:29:15 PM , Rating: 2
looks a lot better than the ugly Prius & the Honda knockoff. The car seems like it will be priced way beyond average Joe's price, so although, I am looking forward to see how the final turns out, I already own an 06 by Mitsu Lancer & a 97 Honda Civic, so I am not buying any car in the coming years but interested to see how the car is received by maintstream or is this something only the rich will have.


RE: Say what you want
By Keeir on 5/29/2009 3:14:37 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
something only the rich will have.


This really needs to be put to rest.

The rich might only have the Volt because of the limited numbers produced. But in terms of 5-10 year cost, we are looking at normal Accord/Camry costs. You know, the top selling cars in the United States? Long terms costs (5-10 years) should be similar to a 25,000 dollar Accord/Camry. Fuel savings, Maintaince Savings, Resale (hopefully) and yes the government subsidy all play into this. Well within "normal" people's budgets.

Assumptions:
15,000 miles per year
75% of miles for Volt are Electric, IE 31 miles a day
Gas $2.50/gallon ($4.00/gallon)
Electricity $0.10/kWh ($0.20/kWh)
"Standard Oil Changes"- 5,000 ICE Miles - 50 dollars
"Standard Major Service"- 50,000 ICE Miles - 300 dollars
Zero Resale

Accord, 25,000 Initial, 24 mpg
5 Year Cost: 34,000 (39,000)
10 Year Cost: 43,000 (53,000)

Volt, 40,000 Initial, 50 mpg, 7,500 Tax Credit
5 Year Cost: 35,000 (36,800)
10 Year Cost: 37,500 (41,100)
At this point, you might need a battery change, but with a 10 year savings of more than 5,000 dollars, it wouldn't be that bad?

I am not saving the Volt is a fanastic Car that is the price leader or any such rubbish. Its not. It will be one of the most expensive compact sized cars to own over 10 years. However, to say people can't afford it is equally as silly. The 10 years costs for the most popular models in the United States are significant higher!


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