Chevy Volt's $16.6 Billion Test Drive

Scott Benjamin

Let's be honest: When you test drive a vehicle, there's not really a whole lot at stake. Sure, buying a new car or truck is an important decision, but if you don't like what you feel when you're behind the wheel, you can easily move on to the next option on your list of favorites and no one really gets hurt. Well, today in Detroit, there's going to be a test drive that potentially carries a multi-billion-dollar price tag.

President Obama's automotive task force is paying a visit to Detroit today. While there, aside from meetings with Chrysler and General Motors executives and top union officials, the task force will have an opportunity to tour the Dodge Ram truck plant and test drive the Chevrolet Volt prototype. The recently formed task force has been appointed to determine if the U.S. automakers' plans for the future are indeed viable and to determine if they should receive additional aid. According to Chris Shunk of AutoBlog, "GM, which has already received $13.4 billion in loans, is seeking up to an additional $16.6 billion and Chrysler is looking for an additional $5 billion in addition to the $4 billion it has already received."

For GM, the decision to put task force members in the seat of their plug-in electric vehicle prototype seems logical...almost expected. But why would Chrysler opt to give the task force a tour of a truck factory? Ken Thomas and Tom Krisher of the Associated Press tell us, "For Chrysler, the revamped Ram is an important product that executives hope will lead the company to profitability once the U.S. auto market recovers from the worst sales slump in 27 years. Chrysler points to the Ram as a sign of its improved quality and upgraded interiors that will spread to the rest of its model lineup."

Will learning what it takes to assemble a Dodge Ram truck make-or-break Chrysler? Will a little time behind the wheel of Chevy's Volt save GM? Probably not on their own; however, when a total of $20.6 billion is at stake, it can't hurt to make a good impression on the group that's ultimately making the final call.

More GM and Chrysler stuff: How Electric Car Batteries Work HowStuffWorks Videos - "How the Chevrolet Volt Works" Consumer Guide Automotive - 2011 Chevrolet Volt Review and Prices How Chrysler Works Consumer Guide Automotive - 2009 Dodge Ram 1500