Five trucks carrying Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric cars left General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck plant this evening, marking the first shipment to dealers after nearly four years of expectation.
GM said it expected a total of 160 Volts to ship this week to its initial launch markets: California, Austin, Texas, and metro New York City and Washington, D.C.
Engineers approved the start of shipping at a half-hour meeting that ended at noon Monday, said Doug Parks, chief engineer for the car. Production started in early November, as reported by the Free Press. The plant has so far built more than 300 models for customers, Parks said.
GM had said customers might receive Volts as soon as late November or early December. The first Nissan Leaf, a pure electric car and a rival to the Volt, was delivered to a customer this weekend — kicking off the sale of electric cars for the mass market.
Since the Volt is GM’s first extended-range electric vehicle, Parks said, engineers decided to do a little more quality testing before approving the cars for shipping. That included sending some cars to Alaska a couple of weeks ago to test how they started and drove in frigid temperatures, when batteries are under extreme stress to power the wheels and heat the car, he said.
“Could we have shipped it a few weeks ago? Probably,” Parks said. “We really didn’t uncover any big quality issues.”
The vehicles should arrive at dealerships this week, he said.
GM first announced the Volt concept at the 2007 Detroit auto show.