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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: 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

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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