Vice Chairman Bob Lutz
has just up a new blog post describing his first drive in the first functional Chevy Volt
mule. The official terminology is "engineering development vehicle" but the engineers all refer to them as mules. That's because like a mule (part horse, part donkey) these early pre-prototype vehicles are a mashup of parts from existing vehicles and development parts for the new models. They allow engineers to get a head start on testing components and systems well in advance of the first "real" prototypes being built. The first Volt mules started running at the GM Proving Ground late in 2007 but it wasn't until sometime in April that a full development lithium ion battery pack was installed in one. It also wasn't until several weeks after that the Lutz
got behind the wheel. The engineers had to actually get all the systems integrated and calibrated to a reasonable level so that it could be evaluated. It's still a long, long way from production ready, but Lutz was already impressed with the performance. Check out Lutz's words and we'll have more a little later on.
[Source: GM Fastlane Blog