General Motors (GM) has come a long way since their bankruptcy earlier this year, and they now hope to prove themselves as competitors in the green car market. GM is investing about $230 million in the production of the Chevrolet Volt and Chevrolet Cruze. These two vehicles are vital to GM’s reinvention as a green company as they look to compete with known green car giants such as Toyota and Honda.
As the vehicles near production time, engineers are working quickly to ensure quality vehicles. GM recently took the Volt out for a test run with Chief Engineer, Andrew Farrah, leading a caravan of eight pre-production prototypes on a 1,200 mile drive from Milford, Michigan to Morgantown, West Virginia and back. During this development drive, the engineers were able to get a better feel for the vehicle from the customer’s standpoint.
Checking everything from driving dynamics, to the feel of the seats and the sound of the stereo, the engineers had the chance to recognize any kinks before the vehicle goes into final production. One of the major goals of the trip was to see how the car drives and feels when the gasoline engine is powering the generator that keeps the car going as the battery nears depletion. According to Farrah, the engine runs between 1,200 and 4,000 rpm. He also reported that the biggest issue they encountered is the road and wind noise when traveling between 25 and 40 mph.
Once the necessary changes are made on the vehicle, it will return to production in one of the four factories in Flint, Michigan. According to Wired Magazine’s online experts, one of the plants, Flint Engine South, is being retooled to build the 1.4 liter engine generator for the Volt and the 1.4 liter turbocharged engine for the Cruze compact. This plant is set to produce 40 engines each day once the vehicles become available online next year.
In addition to the $230 million investment, $1.7 million is going toward refurbishing press lines, and another $30 million is being spent on GM’s Grand Blanc Weld Tool Center, which will build the robotic welders that will assemble Volt and Cruze bodies.
GM is set for Volt production and is expecting to produce up to 800 engines per day by the fall of 2010.