General Motors is gearing up to make its mark in the electric car market, as it has started pre-production for the much-anticipated Chevrolet Bolt.
Pre-production involves engineers and factory workers ensuring that a car is ready for the production phase, which includes making sure that its parts fit, its manufacturing process works, and the dimensions are accurate. However, production for models ready for retail won't begin until the end of this year, as pre-production versions, while drivable, can't be sold to the public.
Michelle Malcho, spokeswoman for GM's Chevy cars unit, said that the Detroit-based automaker sent the first Chevy Bolt down an assembly line at its Orion, Mich., factory, which is where the company is also building its Buick Verona and Chevy Sonic.
"For us, this shows movement," Malcho said. We're not just talking about it, we're doing it."
Take a look at the Bolt going through pre-production in the video below.
Malcho noted that it usually takes between six and 12 months for a GM car to complete pre-production and enter full production.
"We're at a critical and important point in the development of the Bolt EV," Chevy Bolt Chief Engineer Josh Tavel said. "We've moved from working in math, and building cars by hand, to building Bolt EVs on the [assembly] line."
The 2017 Chevy Bolt made its debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, and GM CEO Mary Barra unveiled a production version of the EV at the same event this year.
The Bolt is expected to provide an electric range of 200 miles on a single charge and have a price of around $30,000 after credits.
GM's move to pre-production comes just more than a week before Tesla is expected to show off its Model 3 electric car, which is expected to have around the same price as the Bolt. The Bolt faces several challenges as it goes head to head with the Model 3, such as the latter having a lot of hype surrounding its unveiling as Elon Musk's first mass-market car, as well as Tesla taking $1,000 reservations on Thursday, March 31.
However, GM has the advantage in timing, as shipping for the Model 3 isn't expecting to start until late 2017, which gives the Bolt a chance in getting a lead in sales.