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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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RE: $3B
By NYHoustonman on 5/28/2009 11:12:32 AM , Rating: 3
That and I'm frankly tired of this idea that GM has been doing nothing to help pull itself out of their current predicament. They've made a hell of a lot more interesting/desirable vehicles over the past few years than the likes of Toyota or Honda, there's just this assumption that either they haven't or their quality is lacking or whatever. I mean, Honda's new big thing is a car that looks exactly like a Prius! Where's the innovation? If GM tried that, what kind of uproar would there be?

As much as I don't like advertising, GM's recent commercials hit the nail on the head.

RE: $3B
By Tsuwamono on 5/28/2009 11:58:10 AM , Rating: 2
Ya i know, you'd think that if they got government money they would also try to lean themselves down a bit by closing dealerships, discontinuing lines like maybe Pontiac or GMC, cutting jobs and trying to renegotiate with the UAW and CAW.

Damn them and their taking our money and buying more planes instead of selling off the ones they have. And then they pay their CEO MILLIONS instead of asking him to take a 1$ per year salary like Fritz Henderson.

Wait a second...

ohh geez NYHoustonman, you almost got me there lol. Good show.

RE: $3B
By Tsuwamono on 5/28/2009 12:03:04 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with the Quality part too lol.

Almost the entire Nissan line as of late is garbage.

Toyota Yaris and Prius are both Garbage.

Honda well if I could get into a vehicle they made I could maybe actually drive one to see how it feels but from working on them I can say they are 90% garbage. Especially the Ridgeline. I'm sorry but if your not going to make a proper truck and your just going to make a joke out of it why do you do it?

Mazda isn't too bad though. I have to say I would drive a Mazda. As long as it was the Mazda 6 or the RX-8. Everything else no thanks.

RE: $3B
By Rhl on 5/28/2009 1:52:05 PM , Rating: 2
Mazda isn't too bad though. I have to say I would drive a Mazda. As long as it was the Mazda 6 or the RX-8. Everything else no thanks.

Really? REALLY? Wow. The RX-8 is oil-burning crap, and the Mazda 6 is just decent. Try the Mazdaspeed 3, a well-handling, ridiculously fast hatchback for $25k.

RE: $3B
By Maharajamd on 5/28/09, Rating: -1
RE: $3B
By gregpet on 5/28/2009 2:10:06 PM , Rating: 2
I totally don't understand Toyota's appeal. Every Toyota I've ever been in has the most plain jane plastic interior that looks the same regardless of the model. It baffles me that people seek these cars out.
I have always owned American cars and trucks and have never had a problem (and loved every one of them). I admit I have never owned an American economy car or sedan which is where I think they mostly got in trouble but I refuse to believe that Americans can't build desireable, quality cars that everyone will want to buy...

RE: $3B
By Spuke on 5/28/2009 3:40:01 PM , Rating: 2
but I refuse to believe that Americans can't build desireable, quality cars that everyone will want to buy...
They do and there's 5 on the top 10 sales list. Ford F-Series pickups, Chevy pickups, Chevy Malibu, Chevy Impala, and the Ford Fusion.

RE: $3B
By gregpet on 5/29/2009 3:40:52 PM , Rating: 2
I certainly agree that Americans now build great cars but the part that you missed was that everyone will want to buy...

Unfortunately the US car makers have lost an entire generation of car owners (18-35). Its going to be tough to win them back but they seem to be on the right track...

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
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