Currently GM has a few more than 30 Cruze-shell mule prototypes running around the proving grounds and in various test facilities. These cars have been performing flawlessly. Though containing a near-final Chevy Volt powertrain and battery, they do not possess the true Chevy Volt interior or exterior design.

The next critical stage in Volt development process will be the building of true to form and function Chevrolet Volt prototypes. This particular level of vehicle are known as integration vehicles or as GM calls them, IVers.

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."

By the fall, it could be argued that GMs Volt fleet will surpass the size of the fleets of many of the start-up electric car manufacturers.

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 captured test fleet for mostly GM employees.

By November of 2010 the first saleable Volts will begin being built at the Hamtramck plant and shipped to dealerships.


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