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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 Keeir on 5/29/2009 3:14:37 PM , Rating: 3
something only the rich will have.

This really needs to be put to rest.

The rich might only have the Volt because of the limited numbers produced. But in terms of 5-10 year cost, we are looking at normal Accord/Camry costs. You know, the top selling cars in the United States? Long terms costs (5-10 years) should be similar to a 25,000 dollar Accord/Camry. Fuel savings, Maintaince Savings, Resale (hopefully) and yes the government subsidy all play into this. Well within "normal" people's budgets.

15,000 miles per year
75% of miles for Volt are Electric, IE 31 miles a day
Gas $2.50/gallon ($4.00/gallon)
Electricity $0.10/kWh ($0.20/kWh)
"Standard Oil Changes"- 5,000 ICE Miles - 50 dollars
"Standard Major Service"- 50,000 ICE Miles - 300 dollars
Zero Resale

Accord, 25,000 Initial, 24 mpg
5 Year Cost: 34,000 (39,000)
10 Year Cost: 43,000 (53,000)

Volt, 40,000 Initial, 50 mpg, 7,500 Tax Credit
5 Year Cost: 35,000 (36,800)
10 Year Cost: 37,500 (41,100)
At this point, you might need a battery change, but with a 10 year savings of more than 5,000 dollars, it wouldn't be that bad?

I am not saving the Volt is a fanastic Car that is the price leader or any such rubbish. Its not. It will be one of the most expensive compact sized cars to own over 10 years. However, to say people can't afford it is equally as silly. The 10 years costs for the most popular models in the United States are significant higher!

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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