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Chevrolet Volt Line Rolling in Michigan

The first pre-production Volt comes off the line Detroit.

by on Apr.05, 2010

The quality challenges are enormous as GM confronts an all-new vehicle, with all-new components and all-new processes.

What manufacturing engineers call the validation phase of the assembly line process for the Chevrolet Volt passed a milestone last week when the first pre-production Volt rolled off the line.

Assembly workers at the Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant, will build more pre-production Volt sedans  in the coming months. These vehicles will be examined by GM and supplier engineers as the plant prepares to build retail models later this year.

Also under scrutiny will be how well workers can perform their tasks, and whether there are potential quality or human factors issues that need to be worked out before retail models are built.

The pre-production versions of the Volt will not be sold at dealerships, but will be used to assure all steps in the production system will meet the quality targets set by the Volt engineering team.

The Volt, since it is largely a new design vehicle, with virtually all new processes and components, would present a quality challenge for any maker. Early Volt models will be closely scrutinized by industry observers as an indicator of GM manufacturing ability, and as symbol of GM’s ability to come back from its bankruptcy.

Conventional Japanese manufacturing techniques, widely acknowledged as resulting in the highest quality vehicles in the world, typically rejects as many changes as are required to build a Volt. It is almost unheard of for Honda or Toyota, for example to build all-new, all-new, as in new vehicle and new processes.

GM is now slowly embracing the methods, after rejecting them for decades as its quality and market share declined. However, the nature of the Volt as a breakthrough vehicle precludes their use.

“We have a very experienced workforce at this plant and through all of their preparation and training workers here have been given the privilege to take GM into the future with this car,” said Detroit-Hamtramck plant manager Teri Quigley.

The Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle is designed to provide 40 miles of pure electric driving before an engine-generator kicks in to sustain the battery charge and extend  the range to about 300 additional miles. It is expected to sell for $40,000 before taxpayer subsidies of $7,500.

GM Spends $336 Million to Build Chevrolet Volt

An expensive bet on an expensive car with unknown demand.

by on Dec.07, 2009

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Volt is designed to drive 40 miles on electricity without using gasoline or making emissions.

General Motors will spend $336 million in the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant to begin production of the Chevrolet Volt electric car late in 2010, as well as the Opel Ampera, which will follow late in 2011.

This brings GM’s combined Volt-related investments in Michigan to $700 million spread over eight locations, according to the company.

Detroit-Hamtramck will be the final assembly location for the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera, using tooling from Grand Blanc, lithium-ion batteries from GM’s Brownstown Township battery pack manufacturing facility, camshafts and connecting rods from Bay City, as well as stampings and the Volt’s 1.4-liter engine-generator from Flint.

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“We expect the Detroit-Hamtramck plant will be the first facility in the U.S. owned by a major automaker to produce an electric car. It is the hub for the wheel that we began rolling in 2007 when the Volt debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit,” said Jon Lauckner, GM vice president of global product planning.  [Well, GM's ill fated EV1 was produced in Lansing.]

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