Currently GM has about 30 prototypes running around the proving grounds and in various test facilities. These cars have been performing flawlessly. The next critical stage in Volt development process will be the building of true to form and function Chevrolet Volt prototypes.
Andrew Farah, the Volt’s lead engineer actually has a countdown clock in his office revealing that 63 days from today, assembly of the first true Volt will start. All the parts will be lined up at the low volume assembly facility and will begin to come together that day. Andrew notes the first one will take longer to produce, but for all intents and purposes will come to life on June 1st. They will then be built at a rate of roughly 10 per week until a total fleet of over 80 is completed.
Those cars “will look, taste, smell, and feel like the Volt. They are the Volt,” said Farah “my goal is by Forth of July to be out driving several of them.”
According to Greg Ceisel, GM’s Voltec manager, 2010 will bring several more build stages. “We’ve got several phases leading up to the production launch where we build larger and larger batches,” says Ciesel “in each phase as we perfect the production process, make sure we’ve got all the fit finish and other details exactly correct and that the quality of the vehicle meets our standards before we go into the first vehicles that will ultimately be saleable vehicles that will be shipped to the dealerships.”
He said there will be “a hundred or so” of these final pre-production Volts that will also act as a test fleet for mostly GM employees.
By November of 2010 the first saleable Volts will begin being built and shipped to dealerships.
Why all this fuss is about the Chevy Volt? Because the Volt is an extended-range electric car being developed by General Motors. The Volt is a plug-in electric vehicle with an on-board gasoline generator. It will have a large battery that stores power from your home electric outlet and which is connected to an electric motor. The electric motor directly propels the car.
How is the Volt different than today’s hybrids? Today’s hybrids are called parallel hybrids. They use a small electric motor for low speed driving, but switch to a regular gas engine for acceleration and faster speed driving, hence both engines work side by side or in parallel. There is no way to drive parallel hybrids without using some gasoline. The Volt is a series vehicle meaning only the electric motor powers the car at all times; the gas engine is just a generator, making electricity to keep the batteries in a steady state of charge.
The Volt will be able to drive at least 40 miles on pure electricity stored in the battery from overnight home charging. Many people whose daily commute is less than 40 miles will be able to drive to and from work and never use any gasoline! Think about running your errands (drycleaner, grocery store, Target) on a Saturday, picking up kids from school and sports practice, or going out to dinner and a movie without using an ounce of gasoline!
What happens if you need to drive more than 40 miles? The gas engine will kick in and allow the car to be driven up to 400 miles on a full tank (6-7 gallons) of gas. For the first 40 miles it will get infinite mpg, because no gas will be used. When the generator starts, the car will get an equivalent of 50 mpg thereafter.
To me, this is very exciting! We're that much closer to having a fully electric car as an option (not to replace all gasoline powered cars). Electric cars produce virtually no pollution and reduce our dependence on oil. I will be in line to buy one in November 2010.
Crush du Jour: Matt Aymar