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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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The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By Chaser on 5/28/2009 10:33:23 AM , Rating: 0
After going through some 20 billion in taxpayer money just to trend water GM has asked for another 7 billion dollars or so. GM is still NOT in bankruptcy yet. Why? Because once GM attains bankruptcy court protection they can then begin to renogotiate these ridiculous Union contracts that GM is shackled -shackled themselves- into. So where's this money going? Pensions and healthcare benefits for one. So why isn't GM IN bankruptcy yet? They are under pressure to drag their feet as slowly as they can and get the money while the going is still good.

This is ridiculous. I will never buy a GM vehicle again, and I have never been a "Buy GM" or anything kinda guy. Taxpayers involuntarily propping up GM is outrageous. Its unfair to their competition. I am happy for Ford, and I want Ford (or any U.S. car company thats being responsible) to remain a viable world class car producer. From now on Ford will be "on my list".

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By FITCamaro on 5/28/09, Rating: -1
RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By Tsuwamono on 5/28/2009 12:06:42 PM , Rating: 2
You are dumb. So you want them to flop so all your money thats in that company just disappears instead of being repaid to you?

You sir are a moron.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By clovell on 5/28/2009 1:17:36 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't know FIT owned GM stocks / bonds.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By FITCamaro on 5/28/2009 1:33:36 PM , Rating: 2
You're right I don't.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By Veerappan on 5/28/2009 4:35:54 PM , Rating: 3
You don't, but the federal government does, which means your tax dollars are invested in it, which means you do... indirectly...

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By GaryJohnson on 5/28/2009 1:54:34 PM , Rating: 2
You think the money is going to be repaid? That's the funniest thing I've heard all day.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By omnicronx on 5/28/2009 3:22:24 PM , Rating: 2
If the government gets the stake they want in the company, there is no reason why not.. 70% stake for putting maybe 40 billion into the company after all is said and done is not bad at all. In the end it all depends on how successful the 'new' GM can be. If they go bankrupt and liquidate all their assets then obviously hardly any money is going to be repaid. But if they become a successful company that can actually generate some cash, the debt could be repaid in a number of years.

Furthermore, if GM does return to dominance, the Goverment should easily be able to make back every cent that was loaned if they sell off the company, atop of whatever profit they made in between.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By Jeffk464 on 5/29/2009 12:06:29 AM , Rating: 2
Not going to happen. Toyota has superior management to GM, you are betting on the underdog.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By clovell on 5/28/2009 11:14:26 AM , Rating: 1
Have you even been watching the news? Have you heard of a company called Chrysler? What makes you think that, if it comes to it, the government won't engineer another bankruptcy where the unions get the best of the deal?

You want to know who got the shaft with Chrysler? The dealers. These guys generally have to finance their floorplans - usually $1M+. Back in 1Q09, these guys all pitched in and made extra orders from Chrysler to keep it from going into bankruptcy. As a result, lots had loads of inventory. As we got into Q209, their floorplan credit started drying up, affecting their ability to turn around trades. Chrysler started bouncing their rebate checks, leaving many dealers unable to repay the credit line on their floorplans - these are secured credit lines that must be paid within a certain timeframe when the vehicle is sold. But, without the rebate check, these dealers were upside-down on their deals. Then, Chrysler froze orders. Then they announced that the dealerships that were closing had only two months sell off their already bloated inventory.

Chrysler will not be paying dealers anything - not buying back their signage, their inventory, their franchise fees, etc. Some of these guys were doing a good business and now are millions in unrecoverable debt. I've heard of at least one who took his own life as a result of this mess.

Now, I'm sure some numbskull is going to say, "It's their fault for being a Chrysler dealership." No, sir. It's Chrysler's fault for running an unviable company, and the government's fault for engineering a bankruptcy that releases them from their standard obligations.

Long story short, the average joe got the shaft; the government and the company looked out for the unions, not the dealerships - which have at least as many jobs, and at least as much economic impact. I don't like the bailouts, either - and I'm not arguing for them. I'm just saying that government-engineered bankruptcy is not the answer.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By Chaser on 5/28/2009 12:11:47 PM , Rating: 2
So what is? The U.S. has a system, its called bankruptcy protection and re-organization. The court system are specifically designed with the tools to restructure companies in the best interest of all. Several airlines went through this process and emerged from it in a much better position to be equitable and financially healthy. Why does GM warrant a preference over large companies that went through bankruptcy?

And if you believe bankruptcy for GM is wrong then provide another option. But leeching money from taxpayers now by order of the Executive Department is reprehensible. I'm sorry but I don't believe President Obama should be in the business of running U.S. corporations.

If GM "fails" -which does not equate to bankruptcy like the UAW would love all to believe- it has assets and an infrasstructure that others can buy or acquire. It will take people to operate them all. With unemployment at all all time high I am sure there are plenty of people that would love a job at $20.00 an hour with a matched 401K.

Chrsyler? Don't even get me started.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By clovell on 5/28/2009 1:10:00 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't warrant a preference; that was kind of my point. Chrysler was a mess. GM isn't as bad right now, but if it comes to it, I'd hate to see another mess like Chrysler.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By bhieb on 5/28/2009 1:54:24 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry but I don't believe President Obama should be in the business of running U.S. corporations.

That is kind of the point. Bankruptcy was the option, but a government engineered one is not. The UAW should not have received special protection under the bankruptcy. Obama should not be influencing how a bankruptcy is structured (even if the government is funding it). It should have been treated just like any other company instead of giving unwarranted protection to the UAW.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By Hiawa23 on 5/29/2009 2:09:39 PM , Rating: 3
I'm sorry but I don't believe President Obama should be in the business of running U.S. corporations.

yeah, President Obama agrees, & stated many times he doesn't want to be but this is the hand that was dealt before he even got into office.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By Keeir on 5/29/2009 3:18:08 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, President Obama agrees, & stated many times he doesn't want to be but this is the hand that was dealt before he even got into office.

What? No. Simply not true. Unless Bush laid out these plans to take over auto makers before he left office? Seems like its may not be Obama's favorite plan, but if he really didn't want to run the companies, there were and still are significant and viable different options

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By omgwtf8888 on 5/28/2009 1:13:58 PM , Rating: 1
Wake up! Foreign governments have been subsidizing their automakers with their citizens funds for years. This has been giving them unfair competitive advantages for years. These same governments have restricted American car sales at the same time. And as for all those union contracts, people like you are undoing the labor movements that our grandparents fought for. YES people should work! YES they should be able to retire. Think about what you are advocating for? Work until you drop? No health benefits? Or maybe you think we can just offshore all these jobs so you can get a cheap foreign government subsidized car. Thats the thinking that got us into the economic problems we are in. The majority of people in this country are not Doctors, Lawyers, computer programmers. They need jobs that will pay a living wage with benefits and a retirement plan. These are the jobs we carelessly threw away. No wonder our social ladder is broken. People on welfare have it better then someone working for minimum wage. No sir! GM, Chrysler and Ford lost their most revered customers by getting rid of valued employees. Where i live in New Jersey there used to be many automobile plants, now there are none. Whole towns used to be built around those plants. People that worked at those plants had pride, and bought houses and cars. New Jersey now has 1/8 of is population on welfare and medicaid. Why? because there is no jobs with decent wages for these people. Me personally, I would rather put my tax dollars into subsidizing manufacturing, here, in this country, rather then putting dollars into welfare. The choice is simple, work or welfare. Your tax dollars are going to go to one or the other. So far we have chosen welfare and our country is failing... Time to get back to work... and yes.. if you can start supporting America we really need it.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By clovell on 5/28/2009 1:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
Subsidize industry or subsidize welfare are my choices, eh? I've got a third one - entrenpenuership. Tell 1/8 of your state to get off their ass and if they can't find a job, make one. I also hear the military is recruiting.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By omgwtf8888 on 5/28/2009 1:28:21 PM , Rating: 1
Go take a walk around most of the cities in our country. Look at the people there. Most of our welfare/medicaid (read healthcare dollars) go to this population. Most people lack the skills or ability to start a business. Nice of you to say get off your ass and get to work but think! The person on welfare and medicaid has it better then the person who take the minimum wage job who has no health insurance. Again the social ladder is broken. The mentality that forged the country is broken. We need to return to "you work you get... you don't work you don't get". But... we need to provide jobs that can pay a living wage with benefits. I would love to see welfare/medicaid dollars redirected to Auto manufacturers with the caveat that they make their cars in our country.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By Spuke on 5/28/2009 2:48:04 PM , Rating: 2
ost people lack the skills or ability to start a business.
So you have to start a business if you can't work for a union?

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By Regected on 5/28/2009 2:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with the auto industry is their business model. Auto makers have been losing money with every car made for a long time now. How is a business that is in the business of making cars to stay alive when it loses money when it does sell a car? Their cars are bloated and overly expensive. Someone needs to come out with a new "People's car" to satisfy consumer demand, and to turn a profit on making cars.

Lately, automakers have been counting on their financing department to make any money. Their secondary source of income is the parts department. Who wants to buy a car from a replacement part manufacturer.

RE: The "U.S." will own 70% of GM
By Ringold on 5/28/2009 5:06:01 PM , Rating: 2
So why isn't GM IN bankruptcy yet?

GM's expected to file bankruptcy Monday, they're just working with Treasury to get themselves ready. It was talked about extensively on CNBC today, a bond holders committee accepted a new offer (only slightly better than the original) this morning. GM's stock was halted at the open for a little bit as the dust settled.

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