Lost amidst the hubbub of the 2010 New York auto show was a significant production milestone: The first 2011 Chevrolet Volt rolled off the assembly line in Hamtramck, Michigan, on Monday.
We wouldn’t get too excited quite yet — this isn’t a production vehicle destined for a dealer showroom near you. That said, the Volt — dubbed a manufacturing-validation vehicle — is the first of “several hundred” examples destined to roll down the line before GM begins building cars for customers.
For the most part, the various Volt prototypes shown at auto shows or tested on the open road have either been handmade, or assembled within GM’s Pre-Production Operations (PPO) center, located near the company’s technical center in Warren, Michigan. PPO was previously responsible for building 80 “integration vehicles” that allowed engineers to finalize the car’s packaging while simultaneously testing the Volt in real-world scenarios. Roughly 20 cars were allocated to and destroyed during crash testing and certification.
The MVV cars are but the next step towards production. Engineers are less concerned with design and integration, and are instead focusing on production. Building production-intent vehicles on the actual assembly line allows workers to hone their craft, as well as address any potential quality issues that may arise during mass production.
GM has yet to establish a firm date for the start of full-scale production, but has maintained early customer cars will roll down the Hamtramck line by the end of 2010.