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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: 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)


"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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