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Chevy Volt First Build on June 1

Yesterday we saw the covers pulled off of the Tesla Model S sedan, but it’s not the only game in town. In fact, the it could be a bit late to the party with Chevy’s Volt nearing completion.

GM will begin its first build of the Chevy Volt on June 1, 2009. This does not mean that the car is entering into mass production, but rather all the pieces will finally come together so that the car can be tested and certified before it hits the market next year.

According to GM-Volt.com, a site dedicated to the car, GM lead engineer Andrew Farah has a countdown clock ticking away before the first day of the build begins.

The builds in June “will look, taste, smell, and feel like the Volt. They are the Volt,” said Farah. “My goal is by Forth of July to be out driving several of them.”

The current plan calls for about 10 cars produced per week until a total of 80 is reached. Those cars will presumably be used for testing as well as submission to government bodies for certification and clearance for the public roads.

Before the car goes into final production, around a hundred Volts will go into the hands of GM testers.

“We’ve got several phases leading up to the production launch where we build larger and larger batches,” said Greg Ceisel, GM’s Voltec manager. “In each phase as we perfect the production process, make sure we’ve got all the fit finish and other details exactly correct and that the quality of the vehicle meets our standards before we go into the first vehicles that will ultimately be salable vehicles that will be shipped to the dealerships.”

While Tesla has come out and said that its Model S sedan will be had for under $50,000 after tax credits, GM hasn’t said anything about the Volt’s pricing. Given its comparably more modest characteristics compared to the Tesla vehicle, we expect it to be priced much lower.

GM’s executive director of global engineering Bob Kruse said during a conference call that the pricing of the Volt could depend on the cost of oil. The fact is that the value of an electric or hybrid car somewhat increases along with the cost of fuel.

“I will tell you though that $1.50 a gallon gasoline is not necessarily helping with the business case, but who knows what the cost of petroleum is going to be in the future,” said Kruse. “I'm not wishing for higher petroleum costs, but I think we all recognize that the low cost we're experiencing now are perhaps temporary and economic forces are going to drive petroleum cost in one way.”

The Chevrolet Volt is expected to be built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing facility late 2010. Read our coverage of the Chevy Volt reveal here.