People who follow the Volt development closely know that GM has about 35 mules clad in Chevy Cruze bodies. These have been undergoing extensive continuous daily testing for months. By the summer we will see the arrival of the first full Volt interior and exterior prototypes, and likely begin to see public test drives.
I had the chance to ask Jon Lauckner who is GM's VP of global program management what has been happening with control development on the current Volt mules.
GM has already "laid out all of the concepts that we want to use and written a lot of the preliminary code," said Lauckner. He notes the car's behavior "has to be software driven" and that all the code has already been "put into our mule cars and we're evaluating and testing it."
GM has apparently figured out most of how the vehicle will behave. "I would say that conceptually we're most of the way there if not all of the way there," in terms of behavioral programming said Lauckner, "but there's a lot of work to be done still to make sure that the whole thing operates seamlessly."
Lauckner feels it is imperative GM makes this car absolutely perfect. He said "we need an experience where people say 'Wow' this is really something special. These guys have put a lot of thought into the technology, a lot of thought into the interface between me as a driver and how the car behaving that it tells me the kind of information I need know when I need to know it and that it operates very intuitively."
"That's the level of refinement that requires very little explanation for people to understand exactly what going on," he said.
He says having the car operate completely intuitively and with very little driver explanation is "the reason why we do development." He says GM really has to "love this thing a little bit to make sure that you not only get it that it actually works but you get it working in such a way that its completely intuitive."
As to why this development process seems so long to us he said "we need the time with the car and we need the time over a wide variety of conditions to simulate certain things, so that we can see just exactly how the car is going to behave and what sort of information the driver is going to get to make sure everything works in as seamless a way as we can possibly make it."