Fans of the Chevrolet Volt hoping to snag an early Christmas present this year with a fall release of the extended-range electric vehicles appear likely to be disappointed. Back in December, when Ed Whitacre usurped Fritz Henderson as CEO of General Motors, he asked the product development team to look at the possibility of pulling ahead the launch date, at least on a limited basis. Whitacre even offered extra funding to help make it happen. We asked officials about this last month at the opening of GM's Brownstown, MI battery plant.
While they would love to advance the release schedule, the reality is that it really isn't a practical option. At this late phase of the development program, there is very little room for flexibility regarding a pull-ahead. The remaining tasks involve final calibration, durability testing, validation and certification for emissions and mileage. All of these tasks take a certain amount of time that can't really be shortened at this point and throwing more resources at the problem won't speed it up.
The other issue is that this final testing phase often turns up issues that need calibration or software updates. Putting cars into customer hands early and then potentially having to bring them in for updates would likely harm the image of both the car and the company at a time when GM can ill afford to do either. So, the first customers will just have to wait until late November to get their cars.