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GM Forges ahead with Volt Despite Money Problems

GM Forges ahead with Volt Despite Money Problems

In an effort to keep vehicle weight as low as possible, General Motors will use forged aluminum wheels for the electric Chevy Volt, which is due to debut in late 2010.

"Alcoa is pleased to supply forged aluminum wheels for the Volt. Working closely with the GM team resulted in a wheel designed, engineered and manufactured for light weight performance that will further extend the range of this alternative propulsion vehicle," said Mike Parnell, general manager of Alcoa Auto Wheels.

General Motors has targeted the Chevy Volt to deliver up to 40 miles of gasoline- and emissions-free electric driving with the extended-range capability of hundreds of additional miles. Removing weight is a major goal. The reinforced thermoplastic sheet shown in the hood for the concept Volt is no longer under consideration, according to an exclusive Design News report.

It seems apparent that GM wants to focus on proven lightweight technologies, such as forged aluminum wheels, in an effort to keep the Volt on schedule.

Alcoa said it focused on design, engineering and production techniques to increase strength and durability while lowering the overall weight of the wheel. Forged aluminum wheels provide increased strength and 20 percent less weight than cast aluminum wheels.

Lightweight wheels help reduce emissions and fuel consumption while also boosting driving performance and efficiency from a lower rotary inertia. As the energy used to accelerate and decelerate the wheel is reduced, less mass is required in adjacent, un-sprung components such as brakes, steering and suspension. Lowering overall un-sprung weight compounds the benefits of fuel economy and reduces emissions.

The announcement on the forged wheels also reaffirms statements by GM that the Chevy Volt car program is still full speed ahead despite the company's financial problems. Jon Lauckner, GM's vice president global program management, says: "It is one of the highest, if not the highest, priority programs in the company and that hasn't changed, nor has the commitment of resources to fund it. In fact, with the successful completion of each development activity, we have more confidence than ever the Volt will start production as planned in late 2010."

Last Friday, the federal government announced an agreement to provide up to $17.4 billion in loans to bring GM and Chrysler to commercial "viability." GM CEO Rick Wagoner held a press conference on Friday where he thanked President Bush and said GM is "fully committed to leading in energy-saving vehicles and technologies."

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