GM CEO Drives a Chevy Volt to Washington...Sort Of

Posted: December 4, 2008

Volt Production Pictures
Everyone seems to be paying attention to what the CEOs of America's automakers are driving to the auto bailout hearings on Capitol Hill.  General Motors noticed this, and sensed an opportunity.  GM CEO Rick Wagoner will reportedly arrive at Congressional hearings today in a 2010 Chevy Volt.

Or rather, in the closest thing he could find.

Autoblog explains, "As it seems every press outlet will be covering the roadtrip adventures of the three Detroit leaders as they travel via wheeled transportation to the capitol to beg for billions (remember, no corporate jets this time), Wagoner has wisely dumped the ho-hum hybrid Chevrolet Malibu in favor of a Chevy Volt mule in a Chevy Cruze body during at least the last few highly-visible miles of his journey"  Wagoner will still make most of the journey in a 2009 Chevy Malibu Hybrid...but not all of it.  "To take full advantage of the public display, GM will also bring a show version of the highly-anticipated 2011 Chevy Volt to the capitol and put it on display when Wagoner arrives at the Russell Senate Building around 9:30 AM."

According to Detroit Free Press, the Volt used for this portion of the trip will be "a prototype Volt wearing the sheet metal of the upcoming Chevrolet Cruze." 

The Volt, a plug-in hybrid vehicle designed to drive up to 40 miles at highway speed on battery power alone, is planned for the 2010 or 2011 model year.  The Volt's body has been shown to the press, and its drivetrain has been tested inside the bodies of other cars (known in the industry as "mules"), but the two have never been shown together - and the press has never been allowed close enough to inspect the car's propulsion system.  Battery technology is the limiting factor in every hybrid's development - we don't yet know whether the Volt's batteries can do everything GM claims the car will do.  It isn't clear that the Volt testing mules can reach highway speed under battery power, or how long their batteries last. 

According to Jalopnik, Wagoner will drive the Volt mule from his Washington hotel to "a 9:30 AM rally at the corner of Delaware Ave. and C street just outside the Russell Senate Building." 

That's a distance of just a few miles, probably at speeds below 25 mph - so it still won't come close to showing us how close the Volt prototypes may be to finished products.  The fact that Wagoner didn't drive one from Detroit, but apparently had it shipped to Washington in order to drive the last few miles, may be an indication that the Volt program has a long was to go to keep its promises.

Wired, however, comments, "Rolling up to the hearing in a Volt clearly is a PR move, and a shameless one at that. But we're still glad to see the Volt appearing in public because the public needs to see it. Not only is the Volt the most important car any of the Big Three automakers are working on right now, it is GM's best shot at turning things around."

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