The Bolt EV is built on the same assembly line as the Chevrolet Sonic. How can the automaker integrate two radically different cars into the same production process? Let's find out.
Chevrolet managed to shove the Bolt onto the Sonic's production line without mucking anything up.
Bolt bodies run through the same panel-welding robots as the Sonic.
Here are some gratuitous pictures of sparks, because that's about as interesting as vehicle manufacturing gets.
Chevrolet wouldn't let us get any closer to the robots. Something about dying or being mangled.
The Bolt and Sonic move down all the same lines throughout the Orion facility.
Here, Bolt batteries run on automated carts, which knows when to slot these batteries into the line of Sonics.
Everything moves together pretty seamlessly, albeit slowly.
This is the marriage portion, where the battery becomes an integral portion of the chassis.
The robots do most of the work, but it's up to humans to actually put the two pieces together.
The robots do most of the heavy lifting, which is probably great for the UAW's healthcare costs.
It would be pretty easy to figure out if the line made an error and tried to put a Bolt battery into a Sonic.
This is already pretty far into the manufacturing process, but I wasn't allowed to photograph the whole thing from start to finish.
That's a good thing, because then I'd be able to go off and manufacture my own Bolts. Or something like that.
A giant mechanical arm swings the tool into place so that the worker can, uh, bolt the battery in.
After that part of the process, the vehicles move farther down the line where the powertrain is bolted in.
Again, the Bolt components ride on separate lines that merge together with the Sonic parts at just the right time.
The bottom part carries the subframe, suspension components and the electric drive units.
I hope you like lots of orange wires, because that's the future of underhood engine porn.
When I say everything slowly comes together, I do mean slowly.
But if it were any faster, there'd be greater chance for error, which would impact both the automaker and the customer.
Thankfully, a slow-moving line means plenty of opportunities to snap pictures.
Just a little higher and we're almost there.
Once everything's pieced together, the car runs down the line and is both programmed and tested extensively.
After slapping the wheels on, a final conveyor belt rolls the cars to where workers will hop in and drive off.
From here, the cars are taken to special racks that tune exterior cameras, level headlights and align the suspension.
It's almost ready for the customer at this point.
And that's it! One more Bolt, off to dealerships, hopefully before the end of the year.
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