Volt Birth Watch 59: Stretched Thin

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
volt birth watch 59 stretched thin

The Atlantic boasts a lengthy article on the Chevy Volt containing some pretty eye-opening revelations from author Jonathan Rauch. "And how, I ask [Volt chief engineer Andrew Farah] over coffee early one February morning in Detroit, is it going… The car, he says, is 10 weeks behind the original schedule. Any more slippage, and the 2010 deadline will be history. Even if no more time is lost, he will have only eight weeks to test the underbody, the car's structural base. Is that enough time? He answers indirectly. In some cars, he says, testing the underbody can take a year." And the mood permeates the entire program: "At the end of February, when I returned to the technical center, the picture looked different. December's ebullience had given way to a sense of strain that was evident even to a tourist. 'We currently are at the limit of our stretch,' one senior battery engineer told me." None of this seems to bode well for the timely arrival or reliability of what is arguably the most advanced automobile ever offered for sale in the U.S. Or for the company that's attempting to pull the miracle out of its [s]ass[/s] hat.

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  • Ttacgreg Ttacgreg on Jun 27, 2008

    Hello Alex Rodriguez, I might be wrong, but I personally can remember a long string of revolutionary game changing GM product roll outs that did not fly, and this was largely while GM was a force to recon with. Corvair, Vega, Caddy V-8-6-4, Fiero, Saturn, Olds diesel V-8, the X-cars. I rather expect the Volt to the the last of the line.

  • KixStart KixStart on Jun 27, 2008

    This is a great article... I hope it gets expanded to book length, someday. The passage that Frank Williams chose to excerpt, about underbody testing, was pretty interesting, especially after one reads this passage from the last page of the article: In late March, at the New York auto show, I checked back in with Andrew Farah, the Volt’s chief engineer, and asked for an update. “Still just as bad as before,” he said. When I mentioned that another executive had said the underbody was a well-proven design that didn’t need much testing, he shot me a look of disbelief. “There’s a big gaping hole down the center of this car where the battery goes.” For "another executive," one could substitute "some clueless executive." I hope he's in charge of something where he can't do any harm.

  • WildBill WildBill on Jun 27, 2008

    Busbodger says: They say it has an agricultural feel to the engine and tranny. Of course their expectatations and mine might be very different. I mean they prob spend driving BMWs and Mercedes or Audis. I spend time driving an 11 years old compact or a 9 year old CUV and both have over 150K miles. Good point, as an old farmer there is nothing wrong with an agricultural feel to machinery, it's what we love about it. I too am used to driving older vehicles, my newest is an '03 Matrix AWD with 137,000 + miles on it. Next down is a high mile '00 Expedition. On the Volt, it would be great to have GM make this work. I'm no real fan of their vehicles, not even the 'Vette, but I don't want to see them fail either. For my commuting use I would have to have a range of 100 miles or so, the projected 40 for the Volt won't get it.

  • Nonce Nonce on Jun 27, 2008

    KixStart, you're absolutely right. I was lying in bed last night and realized I screwed up big in my post.