Volt Birth Watch 35: GM Employees to Be Volt Guinea Pigs
Neurologist-turned-electric-car-expert Lyle Dennis had a private audience with Jon Lauckner, Bob Lutz' [s]lackey[/s] "first deputy." Dr. Dennis inquired about the "expected timing, location, and cadence of ramp-up for initial Chevy Volt production." The good doctor wondered if GM is going to roll out the production Volt with "with a small fleet … or… release it like you did the new non-hybrid Malibu?" Lauckner replied that GM's going to introduce the electric – gas hybrid gradually. "Selected people" [read: GM employees] will drive pre-production versions before GM gradually brings the Volt to a Chevy showroom near… someone. Lauckner didn't mention the effect of this plan on the Volt's production date. And his comment represents an about face from previous statements about the Volt's debut: "It makes no sense if you're ramping up production to have people frustrated because the car is in theory able to be sold in every area but they cant get their hands on one because the amount of volume is relatively small." Such as… the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick Enclave launches?
The caption on the photo eludes to the fact that the definitive production version will not look like the one in the photo. This is good because that one in the photo must be one of the most hideous designs to ever come out of a car company design studio, ever! It is even worse than the Aztec in that the Aztec is an SUV which by nature are ugly anyway (by design!) Anyway I have never seen any SUV/CUV/PU which was other than..ugly!
This volt is supposed to be a car. It looks like the product of an unholy union between a WW2 aircraft carrier and the Alien from the movie of the same name. Even if it was all GM claims it is and more, even if it brought peace to the Middle-east, even if it finally eradicated world hunger, aids, malaria and all forms of cancer I would not want to be seen even close to one much less own and drive one. For the love of all that is good GM, don't let this abortion out on the public roads!
I think that the Volt's present design is true to purpose; an electric-driven platform to proudly parade the oversize Chevy idento-grille around town. The GM employee/drivers (who will voluntarily submit to surgery to have all of their cervical vertebrae removed) will happily make such a sacrifice to bring GM firmly into the late 20th century. Maybe that was a bit too "snarky" ;-)
The term is "pilot production". Virtually every mass produced automobile and truck has a short "pilot" production run to make sure the assembly plant works and the cars come out ok. The cars are assembled just like any other production cars, but the line moves very slowly. This allows them to check production methods and fine tune them before the line is ramped up to production speed. I don't know about the other mfgs, but for as long as I can recall, the Detroit companies have put pilot production and early production vehicles in the hands of employees for a combination of real world testing and viral marketing.