LiveBlogging from Warren, Michigan: Chevy Volt Test Drive and New Battery Lab Tour

Chevy Volt Mule

Note: see more updates on the author’s Twitter feed.

Just a few days before GM declared bankruptcy, I was surprised to receive an email from the company asking if I’d be interested in test-driving the Chevy Volt.

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The offer to test-drive the product of a $1 billion development program (as well as one of the most anticipated cars of my lifetime) isn’t something that comes along every day, and I’m excited to say that tomorrow I’ll be test-driving the Volt as well as liveblogging from GM’s Tech center in Warren, Michigan.

Only a handful of folks have driven the Volt prototype so far, and like them, I will not be driving the full-production prototype. The Volt powertrain is still being housed under the skin of a Chevrolet Cruze (pictured above), although the car is using 80% of the parts of the final version.

There will also be a press conference for the grand opening of GM’s Global Battery Systems Lab, followed by a tour of the facility.

If you’d like to follow along with the event, I’ll be liveblogging on this page (click the liveblogging button at the top of the page, above the title, to see real-time updates) as well as posting updates to my twitter feed (@claybodie). The press conference begins at 10 AM ET / 7 AM PST and I’ll be test driving the car around 4 pm ET / 1 pm ET.

If you’ve got questions about the Volt, feel free to post them in the comments section here, and I’ll be sure to ask GM anything I can’t answer directly.

>> LIVE FEED:

Well, it’s 5 am back home. Time to head down to GM’s tech center.

@claybodie: Made it to the GM tech. center and waiting for the press conference to start. Getting photos of the Volt drivertrain which is on display.

@claybodie: Folks are shuffling into the conference room now. Packed house!

GM CEO Fritz Henderson speaking now. GM announces new battery facility here in Warren, MI.

Wants to produce 14,000 Chevy Volts by 2012.

New manufacturing facility for battery modules, bringing online later in the summer. LG Chem will supply the cells. Looking to further develop lithium-ion batteries.

GM’s comprehensive battery strategy = in-house responsibility for battery technology and bolstering supplier options.

@claybodie: “GM believes electric vehicles are best long-term solution for sustainable transportation.” -Global VP of Engineering Jim Queen

GM is committed to being a leader in EVs.

Battery lab: 6 MW capacity for new lab with 160 test stands, 42 thermal chambers for real-world temp. testing.

@PhilColley: Queen: “Over half of the lab is dedicated to testing the electrochemical battery cells. This is providing us a significant increase in our cell testing capability.”

@claybodie: Governor Granholm: diversification of industry needed, i.e. manufacturing batteries.

@claybodie: This is the largest battery testing facility in the nation.

Check me out at GM’s FastLane Blog: http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/

@PhilColley: Michigan Congressman Sander Levin: “GM is not just being reorganized, it’s being reborn…the new GM is not just going to emerge, it’s going to burst out of its shell.”

There are an incredible number of Senators here today.

Anne Marie Sastry of University of Michigan: 80% of auto R&D is fifty miles from Warren, MI. This is a tremendous opportunity to be a solutions provider.

@claybodie: Press conference is over, breaking for battery lab tours now!!

Just finished my Volt test-drive and on the way back to the airport. Will have more later, including pictures, voice, and video. Have to say, the Volt mule is fun to drive. For better or for worse, you might not even know you’re in an electric car, as some have called it ‘unremarkable.’ But that’s what the team at GM is going for: making driving an electric car a normal, every-day experience.

Got home last night after midnight. I will be posting much more on this in the next day or two, but here’s a sample. Audio from the press conference is included below:

Audio:

Battery Facility Press Conference Introduction:

Battery Facility Press Conference Introduction

 

Clayton

In a past life, Clayton was a professional blogger and editor of Gas 2.0, Important Media’s blog covering the future of sustainable transportation. He was also the Managing Editor for GO Media, the predecessor to Important Media.