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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 Cypherdude1 on 5/28/2009 7:38:05 PM , Rating: 2
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.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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