• Aug 13, 2009
Chevrolet Volt pre-production IVER prototype - Click above for high-res image gallery

While visiting General Motors' product technology showcase this week, we had the opportunity to take a tour through the pre-production operations area where the integration vehicle engineering release prototypes (IVER) Volts are coming together, and then later we went for a ride in one with chief engineer Frank Weber. GM started building these integration prototypes in late May and is currently finishing them at the rate of 10 per week. By the time the whole fleet is done later this summer, 80 Volts will be running through a battery of tests to evaluate all aspects of the car. There are currently about 20 IVERs running at Milford, Warren and elsewhere.

After the tour we went over to the Milford Proving Grounds and Weber brought out the newest Volt to take journalists for quick rides around the loop on "Black Lake", the vehicle dynamics area. Unfortunately, only Weber was allowed to pilot the Volt and since it arrived with a full charge, we didn't get an opportunity to experience the charge sustaining mode. Read on after the jump for more about how the Volt feels from the passenger seat and to watch a short video of our experience.



Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

We can make a few preliminary comments on the car though. Since we weren't allowed to drive, I decided to hop in the back seat. The Volt is considered a compact, but in spite of the sloping roof-line, it still felt surprisingly roomy. Both leg and headroom were more than adequate for this journ's long-torsoed 5'10" frame. While most small cars are outfitted with three rear seatbelts, the reality is that none are actually wide enough for more than two adults. Thus, the four seat configuration mandated by the center tunnel mounted battery is not a problem for most practical purposes.

Behind the seats there is plenty of room for cargo under the tall rear deck, and storage cubbies and cup-holders molded into the console covering the battery will prove handy for rear passengers. When Weber took off around the loop, the Volt accelerated with authority even with four adults on board. The relatively low profile and concentrated battery mass down low meant body roll felt minimized around corners. From the back seat at least, the two LCD screens appeared to be relatively resistant to glare. Hopefully we'll soon have a chance to get behind the wheel ourselves and experience the charge sustaining mode, as well. Stay tuned.




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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 67 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looking forward to your first drive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I see a BIG design flaw in the Volt, especially when it comes time to replace the batteries. If they are barried in the center console, it appears you'll need to tear the interior apart to get at them. Not smart thinking on GMs part.

      Preferred - under carriage access panel to swap-out a complete battery pack if the car is up on a lift and then insert a replacement pack as a "quick swap" in a matter of minutes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why do you need to swap the battery? The life expectancy of the battery is 10 years, no need to spend time designing a quick way to change it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Greg, ever seen the Porsche Cayman/Boxster: Try replacing the spark plugs in those little boogers.

        The Volt is fine as is.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Is that not how it is done?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Brian
      12:21PM (8/13/2009)
      Since it is going to cost $43k as a Chevy, what do you think the Cadillac version will be? $100k? Ridiculous.
      ---------------------

      Hey riceball if your going to outright lie and least tell one that sounds valid as it has been reported many times could will be $40,000 or less minus the $7,500 the feds give which makes it cheaper the some POS nip gas car.

      You need to learn how to do simple math :-(

        • 5 Years Ago
        @Brian: You make money? With the frequency of your politically-slanted diarrhea on Autoblog, i'm wondering how you actually earn a paycheck.

        That, or someone must p**s in your cornflakes daily.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, thanks for reminding me that I'm being forced at the point of my gun to hand over part of my paycheck to these crooks since nobody will buy their products.

        The transplants, btw, have actualy hybrids for sale (right now! wow!) that start at around $20k, and they're based on proven technology, and you get Toyota/Honda levels of service, reliability, and the peace of mind that they won't go belly up in the next few years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "GM hasn't ONCE provided any information on how the ICE performance will be. This will be the car's downfall from a driveability standpoint. Word will get out that it's a slug."

      It should be no different. The same electric motor will propel it in generator mode. The only difference is the sound of the engine powering the batteries. I am guessing based on how I think it works but the performance should be the same in generator mode.

      Maybe someone can explain better but is not like the motor kicks in to drive the wheels after EV mode.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's really a non-issue since you won't be utilizing the full 149hp of the electric motor most of the time. For instance, how often do you drive with the pedal to the floor?

        Other than a brisk take-off from a standstill and passing maneuvers at highway speeds, full power will rarely be called upon. It only takes a small amount of power to keep a car moving at highways speeds, even less at slower speeds.

        Really I think the problem will be getting the output from the generator to match the maximum input possible to the batteries. The gas engine/generator will likely be able to send much more power to the batteries than they can absorb I'm guessing. That's another reason for the 100hp non-turbo engine over the turbo version I'd figure. Not to mention cost and complexity reasons.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It'll be a little bit different. The non-turbo 1.4 L (100 hp, 73.5 kW) used in the Volt can't produce enough power to match the output of the full battery (149 hp, 109 kW). Now if they had used the turbo 1.4 L like that in the Cruze, the power dropoff would be negligible. (Note: this was speculation from last months Car and Driver).
      • 5 Years Ago
      gslippy, you're comparing apples to horses. Yes, SSR sold poorly because no one knew what it was. It wasn't a good truck, it wasn't terribly sporting, and the convertible market is rather fickle. The SSR was a niche product that would have been the 3rd or 4th car in the household, not the primary one.

      The Volt is designed to be the primary car in the household and everyone knows what it's intentions and limitations are. Even at the planned production rate of 10k-20k per year, they will sell every last one of them (unless there turn out to be huge reliability issues). There will probably even be a waiting list.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Volt is intended to be a primary vehicle. If it was strictly a car for greenies, why would they bother making it a 4-door, 4-seater? Because tey know it must appeal to a broad audience that will use it as primary transportation. And most apartments around here DO allow you to plug your vehicle in. Of course, those plug-ins are intended to be used for block heaters, but there's no reason they couldn't be used to recharge cars (although it would take 8 hours).

        Yes celebrities will be all over the Volt, just like the Prius. But that doesn't mean normal people won't buy it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        gslippy - "The main customers for the Volt will be celebrities who want to brag about their green tastes, people who just love technology, or people who can't do math."

        In other words, exactly the same market as the Prius. Hell, the Prius even spent many years losing money on every single vehicle (are they making money yet?). Sounds like Chevy is spot-on with the Volt.

        I'll wait for a sporty electric car at a reasonable price, and I have forsworn ever buying a car from Govt Motors, but I applaud any efforts to create a mainstream electric vehicle.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you compare a Prius to a car $5k cheaper, there is no reasonable payback for it, either. I did just that in 2005, and bought an xB.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's an interesting start. But it still just seems too expensive.
      Will be very interested to see the quality/repair rates and lifetime of the batteries, etc....
      If all that stands up OK and they can get the next generation down to be price competitive with prius then they might really have something great.
      Right now, the price seems a good $15G to $20G too high....

      ...and that is assuming that it looks like a $13000 car in this video because of the video itself being crushed as others have noted.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can't wait to see what Cadillac will do with this platform.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Since it is going to cost $43k as a Chevy, what do you think the Cadillac version will be? $100k? Ridiculous.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Brian,
        You are so right! GM should focus on the towing capacity of the next Suburban not this pos! There's no future in these electric vehicles anyway. Who cares about 'mpg'? You should start a car company! You could call it ChevySucksAndIKnowEverything Motors.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "It should be touted like the corvette"

        The difference is, the corvette has great proportions, it looks exotic and special because it's designed from the ground up as a true sports car. Even if you never heard of the Corvette, you'd know it's special at first glance.

        The Volt is based on the Chevy Cruze's platform, and as such, it has typical economy-car proportions (too tall, flat sides, small tires). There's nothing special about the outward appearance of the Volt.
        • 5 Years Ago
        $43k is a made up number, no pricing has been released.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Brian, I thought this was finally a neutral or somewhat positive post from autoblog about GM and the Volt. Good job Sam.

        I knew I could depend on people like you to bring the negativity. Funny thing is your prod at GM is only a rumor anyway!! Give them a chance, and base your opinions on fact, ok?

        BTW there's also rumor that the Volt will cost $25k (or about $5-8k more than a standard compact car costs, from a GM rep a while ago). $40k is a rumor just like $25k.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I heard yesterday from a GM ex that the price could come in less than $40,000, no price has been set, but it won't be over $40,000.







        • 5 Years Ago
        sorry to play devil's advocate, but at $43k, it's a little excessive for a chevy. It should be touted like the corvette, a chevy nonetheless, but something more special and desireable. Granted, once the technology becomes more common place, the forthcoming generations should see a significant price drop and the price may finally be in line with the badge.

        Because in the end, no matter how much money you spend on a car, when you put forth the cash, you're also paying for the badge and the prestige.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Theoretically this car should be marketed as a GMC "Halo" car - General Motors Corporation Volt.

        Or just "The GM Volt"
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well how bout we first hope that Chevy doesn't completely eff-up an otherwise nice looking 'concept' that is being production-ized as we speak.

        Check out the cut lines on the hood and lack of fuel door on the front fender here:
        http://www.netcarshow.com/chevrolet/2011-volt/1600x1200/wallpaper_03.htm

        And now look what they've done with it in these latest shots:
        http://green.autoblog.com/gallery/quck-ride-in-the-pre-production-chevy-volt/full/

        Hood cut lines now fold over ungracefully onto the fenders and the charging/fuel door looks awful where it's at. Can't they do a better job of hiding that?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why are you people complaining that it isn't the hottest looking car on the road? That's not the point of the Volt. The point of the Volt is that it's a technological tour-de-force.

        They had to compromise its looks to make it (1) producible and (2) efficient. You want the Volt to be unproducible and inefficient?
      • 5 Years Ago
      i saw one of these prototypes cruising on i-75 somewhere in kentucky or tennessee last saturday.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This car will either be the Vega for the 21st Century, or GM's Edsel.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Edsel. Look how far we have come from the 30's to today. Difference is that in only 20 years the Volt will look like a Model T. Slow, outdated from every angle but still cool. 20 years in the technology world is like 100 years in the auto world.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I heard yesterday from a GM ex that the price could come in less than $40,000, no price has been set, but it won't be over $40,000.







        • 5 Years Ago
        Go jump in a woodchipper, Brian.
      • 5 Years Ago
      if i may add to the whole this car is a slug thing. a gutless 1.4 liter motor might not do much for a regular car this size. im sure gm focused the output to handle a bit more load than highway cruising so the batteries can load up for passing. letting that little motor putter away at its optimal speed, leveling out the charge from acceleration and braking is a great idea. now if you can push this car beyond its charge and charging capabilities im sure your going way to fast for the city. if you need to cruise at 160-180k (imacanuck) and can afford the tickets, how bout an m5?

      ps those are some thick a pillars, that would drive me nuts.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It works for me, except that a $43k car should not have a fake plastic grill. At least that's what it looks like in the pictures.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, because the fake, plastic grille on a $40K Acura(or any number of similarly-priced cars) is so much better.

        However, the car shown above is a test mule(note the unfinished headlights as well), so you really shouldn't read too much into what you see right now. Plus, with it being built with fuel efficiency in mind, having the grill have as small an opening as necessary helps with airflow around the car.
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