The final design has been selected, markets have been chosen and production targets established - even if the car loses money for GM. Starting this month, the propulsion systems will begin road testing, bringing the Volt another step closer to reality.

Some have doubted either GM's willingness or ability to bring the Volt to market in a timely fashion, and at times it looked like the skeptics could be right. Recent developments have largely turned that perception around, however, and once the older-model Chevrolet Malibu test mules start trotting the E-Flex drive system around Detroit, the nay-sayers will have even less to use against the maker.

The drivetrain won't make it into a Volt chassis until mid-2009, when the first driveable prototypes are expected, and production is now scheduled for late 2010 but GM wants to get the drivetrains on the road as soon as possible, reports AutoWeek.

Testing in real-world driving conditions will give the engineers an idea of how far they have to go to meet the goal of 40 miles of electric-only travel, on-board recharging and regenerative braking and eventually fuel-cell power. The batteries that will be used in the mules have already been in testing since October of last year, but this month will mark the first time the whole E-Flex system has been put to the test.

Check out the video below, which gives us an inside look at GM's Volt laboratory. Here we can see engineers test the aerodynamics of a one-third scale model of the production Volt as well as get a look at one of the lithium-ion battery arrays that will be going into the car.