June 9th, 2009 at 11:52am
I got the chance yesterday to go to the GM Tech Center to drive one of the Volt mules. You may have read something about these cars already. They’re actually Chevrolet Cruze’s with all Volt technology in them. Well, almost all of the Volt technology. These mules did not have the engines hooked up that recharge the batteries. More on that in a minute.
In case you’re not familiar with term, a “mule” refers to a car that’s been cobbled together for development purposes. Since the Volt and all the technology that’s going in it is still under development, GM took production versions of the Chevrolet Cruze and bolted in the Volt powertrain and batteries. They used the Cruze because it’s roughly the same size as the Volt. This allows them to test the powertrain more quickly rather than waiting for the final engineering on the Volt body to be done.
When we went outside to drive the mules the GM people told me that the car was already “on.” At this stage of development, it takes over 20 seconds to boot up everything in the car before it’s ready to drive. GM says it can reduce that delay but I still got the sense they’re still going to be some boot up time required even with the final production version.