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

While visiting GM's product technology showcase this week, we had the opportunity to take a tour through the pre-production operations area where the IVER – integration vehicle engineering release – Volts are coming together and then later go 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 Milford and Weber brought out the newest Volt to take journalists for quick rides around the loop on "Black Lake", the vehicle dynamics area. Unfortunatel,y 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.


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 my 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 all practical purposes.

Behind the seats there was 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 and experience the charge sustaining mode as well.




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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is great! I'd buy one for sure. The aperta, although very ugly imho, would grant a look as well. I'm excited about the future of motoring people.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The driver is German?
      Sort of like hiring a nazi rocket scientist to build the US space program in the 60s.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And you are a huge douche.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is probably the first non-2 door car I've been excited about! :)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Shame about the limitation to 2 seats in the back. And considering how much I really like the rear styling of this car, I wish the front weren't so Chevy-typical. I'm really tired of the horizontal-bar grille and requisite tacky gold bowtie-- I was hoping for something a bit more revolutionary for such a groundbreaking vehicle.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What's with the visible fuel door on the front fender? Is that going to replace this? http://green.autoblog.com/gallery/2011-chevy-volt-3/med/#12 And if so, that would be very unfortunate.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, the cross-bar grille has only recently made its way back into the Chevy mainstream. Yes, the trucks have been using it, but you can't say Chevrolet cars have had the cross-bar any time in the last 20-30 years, before the reborn Impala, and even then, the NEW Malibu was the first to wear this new corporate snout.

        As for the bowtie, what badge do you expect Chevrolet to put on their cars? You can't fault Ford for using a blue oval, or Toyota for their ringed 'T', how can you do the same for Chevy? The Volt isn't a brand, it's a model. It should be instantly recognisable as a Chevrolet, since Chevrolet deserves to boast about this new direction. If it were your company, you would market this car as a Chevy, not make it an obvious point of covering up the embarrassment that it was made by you.

        Anyone who complains that the Volt looks like a Chevy simply doesn't like Chevy, and wouldn't buy the car anyway. GM shouldn't care much about their opinions.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Are you guys seriously complaining about a fuel door and the gold bow tie?

        The Aptera gets a pass for looking like an Airplane (some people like it) but the Volt is ripped for being a Chevy.

        Chevy has a huge marketing hurdle to overcome. I think petty considerations like this are usually not an issue with other makers. Its GMs fault for destroying the brand over the years but it will be a tough marketing road ahead.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree about the front in that it doesn't look as good as the back.. But it's still pretty techy, neat looking.
        • 5 Years Ago
        My specific complaint is paying over 40 large for a sedan that seats only 4, not 5. I may prize gas mileage, but I can't leave the kids at home. And if that premium price gives me essentially the same "destroyed-brand" (your terms, not mine Epyx) face that has graced every sub-par Chevrolet from the past two decades, then I see that as an aesthetic knock against it. With a model this important, Chevrolet could have reinvented its styling language into something much more modern and appealing, then spread it to the rest of the lineup after the halo took hold on the Volt. They are just so damned intent on the world knowing it's a Chevrolet, they made it look like one. That said, I still think the rear is damned cool.

        I'm actually quite excited about the Volt, but I'm not going to blindly patronize Chevrolet simply because it's an "American" company. They've been far behind the leading edge for as long as I can remember, and they need to establish a consistent track record before I become a fan. And I'm no less critical of every other car maker out there.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does anyone know if the generator on the Volt can charge the batteries when sitting still? So if I am in a hotel and there is no plug, could the car theoretically charge the batteries by running the generator? I know if makes little practical sense but I am wondering if it is possible.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You get the same effect by just driving the car and letting the gas engine determine when it needs to recharge the batteries, as you move.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I can't see why you would, but I also can't see why not. Wasn't there a GM engineer talking about maybe using the Volt to power your house when the grid went down? That sounds like a car being used as a generator when stationary.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's no technical reason you couldn't do it, but its not something GM is planning. When the car is standing still, you have to plug it in to charge the battery.
        Atul
        • 5 Years Ago
        Epyx,

        I'm guessing probably not, for safety reasons, (carbon monoxide and fire risk if parked somewhere dry). GM doesn't need lawsuits. :-)

        UH2L
      • 5 Years Ago
      Too bad GM wasn't this enthusiastic about the EV1. Well I think they're a day late and a dollar short now. Well maybe not the dollar short part... Obama will keep writing them checks on your behalf despite GM's massive failings.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's too bad they can't also build an updated EV1. It would need a much smaller battery.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You know, if only there had been more people like you, who were willing to pay $80k for a car with no cargo space, two seats, and limited range...

        GM might still be making the EV1.

        Since most people are outraged that GM has suggested that the Volt should sell for a mere $40k, I can only imagine the howls for a car costing twice as much with limited range and only two seats.

        Killing the EV1 was a smart move, financially, for GM. The way they did it was incredibly stupid. While Mr. Burns may feel that the Volt could have been here ten years ago, I'm not sure where he would have acquired the battery tech that makes the Volt practical-- my understanding is that even in January 2007 when the Volt was shown as a concept, the battery technology they're using right now, didn't exist.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Funny how the EV Rav4 batts where just fine and have lasted since the time the EV1 was introduced.

        How do you know the price if GM never put them up for sale?

        Yup canceling the EV1 [and starting the hummer line] was a good business move. You hit that one right on the head.

        • 5 Years Ago
        The way doesn't Toyota still sell the Rav4 EV?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hey, there building these now at the same rate they built the EV1, ten per week.

      Why is there a tunnel in this at all, (no drive shaft) the Leaf does not have a tunnel, all of it's batteries fit underneath the car without a tunnel. (24 Kwh versus 16 Kwh pack) Oh, oh yea they had to have room to put the ICE in, how could I forget that.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Or when the breaker trips during the night and you cant get to work.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Do you forget the Volt has an electric motor for its main drive source? O _ o

        I'd rather have options than to put all my eggs in one basket anyways. Electricity + E85/Petrol for back-up > than depending on my city's energy grid to never have a hiccup.

        I think you'll have a better chance experiencing a city blackout than not finding the tiny bit of oil to keep in the reserve tank of the Volt.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Ernie,

        Good reverse psychology, I like this part.

        Road trips are a favorite pass time of Americans, raising memories of hungry kids and "are we there yets?" but still capturing our spirit of pioneering and adventure - just what our country needs in this time of economic downturn and despair.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Jpm100 and Epyx,

        I have put 6,700 miles on my EV from mid January to the end of June and have not experieced either one of the problems you refer to.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Some of us need a safety net and some of us like to live dangerously. Though I am not sure which one of us that is as your mode of transpertation will still require the military to secure oil which can be very dangerous indeed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Ray: You already own an electric car. Do you think you're any kind of usable sample for average Americans and their daily lives. Even more importantly, just because you haven't experienced a power outage *ever* since owning your EV, you think no one will? Just because you didn't get an unexpected phone call saying your son is in the hospital in a nearby city and you need to get there asap that no one else will? What about a business meeting? What about you stayed the night at a significant other's house and didn't think to "plug-in" (pun not intended). You think just because it didn't happen to you, it won't happen to anyone?



        The answer is: Nope.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'd hardly call them anti-EV'ers, since they're praising the Volt. More like pro-RE'ers (both are ridiculous sounding terms, I hope we just made them up and no one actually uses them). From what I can see, it's the EV crowd that is anti-Range Extender, and they never miss the chance to point it out, then complain when people give them a retort in defence of the on-board generator. It's still an EV. I don't know why EV people have such a problem with it. Actually, I do, but that's just too easy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And when your leaf stops of home because you took a couple unexpected detours, I'm sure you'll remember the ICE again.
        • 5 Years Ago
        maybe so but you are limited to the range of your EV ... 150 200 miles? The volt can be driven across the country non-stop if one wanted to do it. Sure the MPG would be about the same as a Prius but it could do it. Plus it can do the normal duties of around town, day to day, as a EV. Best of both worlds, cake and eat it too.

        I see it as EV+, I like the safety net of the ICE.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No one said you cant drive an EV across the country but how long will it take? Its not exactly practical for a family to drive a 150-200m range vehicle to Myrtle Beach from Pittsburgh. It would take a few days. The Volt could do it in 1 and then once on Myrtle for the week use 0 gas until the drive home.

        EVs are great, but they DO have some limitations. Eventually the limitations will lessen. Until then I appreciate the backup generator on-board the Volt.

        I think there is room for both in the market. I dont think it is a this or that situation.
        • 5 Years Ago
        http://renewamericaroadtrip.com/

        I wish the anti-EVers would shut up about road trips. Their arguments are assinine.
        • 5 Years Ago
        non-stop except for fuel every 300 miles. Sorry.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well..the driver almost said it..."After driving these cars, how could we have made such loud, wasteful pieces of sh&t?"

      • 5 Years Ago
      Epyx,

      That is enough of that language that the CEO of Tesla uses. Your not rich enough to use that.

      No they do not sell the Rave4 EV anymore but I saw one last night and it still goes 70 miles on a charge.

      No the Volt will not charge up the batteries without sucking some amps from a wall breast.

      The Volt does have a way to sense how far you are going before you will plug in and use more of the battery pack up but not beyond the 30%. It's called homie mode or something like that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ick the concept car was beautiful, this thing looks like a generic POS compared to it
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nah I know they seldom make production looking the same but this is so bland
        • 5 Years Ago
        New to the car world? Specifically concept cars vs production car designs?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The concept looked like a brick with oversized tires. It apparently looked much like a brick to the air attempting to pass smoothly over it as well.

        It was a striking car, definitely-- but it had the aerodynamic properties of a 1970's Cadillac.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Something new and exciting from Detroit!

      Has anyone outside of GM driven the Volt after the battery has depleted to 30% SOC and the ICE kicks in? For bonus points, has anyone driven up a long incline with a heavy load in that mode?

      @Epyx, the VOLT ICE only runs to keep the batteries at 30% of charge, so normally when you take the key out the batteries will be at that level and there's no need for the ICE to keep going; it'll just start up when you next drive. UH2L's point about indoor emissions seems to rule out the engine continuing to run. GM is still tweaking the power management, so maybe they will add a limp home mode to deplete the batteries more, together with a mode to top the batteries up. Note that recharging the batteries from the ICE is more expensive than plugging in (otherwise we'd all have generators at home!).
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Volt's 53 kW generator connected to its I4 engine should be able to put 10 kWh into its 16 kWh battery in 12 minutes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I wasnt suggesting that anyone would want to or even that it would make sense to do so. I was simply asking "in theory" could the ICE generator, produce enough power while standing still to do nothing more than fully charge the battery?

        To put it another way. It would be the equivelent of pluging the volt into one of those Honda backup generators people use for camping. Could the volt act as its own generator to fully charge the battery? Does it produce enough power if not running the motor or electronics - only charging.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looking good - I hope they can get the volume up and the price down by early 2011.
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