Tony O'Kane | May 29, 2009

GENERAL MOTORS HAS begun pumping out the first batch of pre-production Chevy Volts, cars which will be used for a wide range of testing, troubleshooting and safety certification over the coming months.

To date, the only Chevrolet Volts we've seen have been hand-built prototypes based on the Cruze and Chevy Malibu, which are, of course, not representative of the car that Joe Consumer will eventually be able to buy.

These new pre-production cars are much closer in their configuration and, pending the results of the crash testing program, should resemble what we'll see in the showroom.

"The purpose for the integration vehicle builds is two-fold," said GM spokesman Rob Peterson in an interview with Wired.

"First, they validate our production design, vehicle safety and performance capabilities.

"Just as important, the build activity provides valuable insight into the final vehicle assembly process to ensure a high-level of build quality and manufacturing efficiency when production begins in November 2010."

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The first few pre-production vehicles will be assembled by hand at GM's technical centre just outside Detroit, with GM hoping to have 80 of the cars on the road by the fourth quarter of this year.

Several hundred more will then be built at the company's Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant early next year, which give GM plenty of time to perfect the build process before series production commences in November 2010.

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The Volt will be heading Australia's way in 2012 badged as a Holden, however pricing and a solid sale date have yet to be announced.

Considering the Volt is shaping up to be a relatively expensive beast when it hits US showrooms late next year (a US$40,000 has been predicted - almost double that of the Prius), it may be a little pricey for Australian tastes. But with the promise of ultra-low running costs and the ability to run without touching a drop of petrol, it may pull in some substantial sales for Holden.

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