GM is continuing to ramp up Chevy Bolt production at its Orion manufacturing facility north of Detroit, and is on track to begin deliveries before the end of 2016, going by recent statements made by company officials.
Production is being pursued in an interesting way … seemingly because the company is worried about being burned, as it somewhat was with the first-generation Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
What that’s in reference to is the fact that Bolts and Chevy Sonics are coming off of the same assembly line — with every 4th or 5th vehicle coming off the line now being a Bolt, according to reports. Such an approach obviously has merit, as the company can now shift production rapidly based on demand — if Bolt demand is stronger than expected, it will be a simple thing to ramp up; if not, then the popular Sonics will keep coming off the line.
Importantly, as it stands, the Orion production facility is only working on one shift — with production occurring at a pace that would allow for around 90,000 vehicles to be produced a year. The addition of extra shifts would of course allow this figure to be increased.
Automotive News provides more: “GM redesigned the Orion assembly operation to allow workers to build either Bolts or Sonics and can shift production depending on demand, said Yves Dontigny, launch manager for the Bolt. At one assembly station, after a Sonic body is mated to its gasoline engine and axles, a carrier wheels the battery pack for a Bolt into place. The same workers secure it to a Bolt body hanging on a carrier overhead.”
An interesting approach. Notably different from Tesla’s, whose approach is something of an outlier in the industry owing to the company’s very extensive use of machines during production.
However, this is very similar to Ford’s approach with its plug-in vehicles, which sell much better than all other compliance cars on the market — and basically better than everything except a Tesla Model S/X and maybe the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF (depending on the timeframe you look at).
Rather than bait our resident Tesla critic in the comments section, I’ll go ahead and note here that the Chevy Bolt will, barring an unforeseen disaster, hit the US market nearly a year before the Tesla Model 3 does — thereby giving it a substantial head start and time to get a fan base going before the Model 3 hits the market in late 2017.