On Tuesday morning, eight Chevy Volt integration vehicles left the Milford Proving grounds compound in Michigan on a historic extended test drive into Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The cars were driven for more than 9  hours and 300 miles continuously in a special effort to analyze their behavior, performance, and comfort on such a long drive in real word conditions.

Key personal in attendance on the drive included Volt chief engineer Andrew Farah, Volt vehicle line engineer Tony Posawatz, and advanced technology engineer Larry Nitz.

"Development drives are key milestones for every vehicle program," said GM spokesperson Rob Peterson. "The extended seat time allows the engineers to experience every aspect of the vehicle - from ride, handling and performance to the comfort of seats. The drives also help uncover engineering issues that need to be resolved before the vehicles are put into the hands of customers."

"Having the capability to drive several 100 miles in a day is a significant advantage for the Volt team too," said Peterson. "Remember, the EV1 team needed to be trailered to areas like Pikes Peak or Pennsylvania for testing, or trailer a small generator to extend the vehicle's range."

Lead engineer Andrew Farah wrote the following observations about the drive:

HVAC comfort is good, and sound quality in the NVH (noise, vibration, handling) vehicle is excellent.

We have uncovered a number of minor issues with some of the gauges and displays. Up-level sound system makes XM really sound great!

City traffic in Pittsburgh was just what we were looking for after the rolling grades outside of town. On the way in, we all put the transmission selector into the "L" position and this worked as intended in the stop-n-go conditions. At speeds under 35 mph, you can basically drive with one foot because of the heavier regenerative drag as you fully release the accelerator. It is smooth and blended. Seat comfort evaluations are also being conducted. We have our top 3 comfort configurations from previous activities. So far, the top choice seems to be clear, but there is still some work to do.
This was the longest continuous real world drive to date the Volt development vehicles undertook in a single outing, and illustrates how the Volt is capable of doing what no pure battery EV could do.

Besides providing the engineer with valuable data on how to make the cars as perfect as possible, it also produced some very cool photo ops.

Meanwhile GM also announced it was investing over $200 million to upgrade several production facilities in preparation for building the Chevy Volt and Cruze.  In particular, the engine plant in Flint where the 1.4 L Volt engine-generator and 1.4 L turbocharge Cruze engine will be made was allocated $202 million.