Friday, March 23, 2007

What up with GM's Plug-in hybrid Volt?

"GM tries to unplug Volt hype" is not the headline I've been hoping to see out of Motor City this spring. But there it is in a Detroit News Autos Insider piece today. Just weeks after announcing production, perhaps, in 2010, the industry's hometown paper lets us know this is no done deal.
The Volt grabbed headlines, lit up online chat boards and dominated the buzz at the auto show in Detroit.
There's just one problem: The Volt may never get built.
GM continues to spread the gospel of the Volt. The recent "presser" to explain how all things Volt are coming along was very well-attended. Interest in plug-in cars of all sorts is real and growing. However, as the article points out, it feels like a trip down a well-traveled green road to nowhere.
The auto industry has disappointed before when it comes to green technology. DaimlerChrysler AG promised a production fuel-cell vehicle by 2004, but couldn't deliver despite spending $1 billion on the technology. And little came of a $1.5 billion taxpayer-funded effort, called the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV), to build an 80-miles-per-gallon car. Last year, Ford Motor Co. took an image beating when it backed away from a pledge to put 250,000 hybrids on the road by 2010.
The story essentially asks whether the Volt is intended for production, simply a green gesture, or perhaps both. Arguably, the Prius hybrid halo has enabled Toyota's more recent play for the American's profitable big SUV and truck market.

Is GM just looking for its halo or a future? Regardless, GM ought to be producing the Volt now with the best available batteries, a PHEV-version of the NiMH in every hybrid on the road and which took the EV1 140 miles between charges. Laptops didn't wait for Lithium, and neither should cars.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree. If GM is serious then put out the Volt with 20 miles electric instead of the 40 miles, with options to expand the battery pack later. But, no, GM doesn't offer any flexibility.. it's all or nothing, how convenient, that attitude provides a way out of ever producing the car.

I'm no Eco Greenie. I don't want to pay any more money to oil companies that end up spending our money on oil crude from Islamic countries that want to use that money to kill us or build Nuclear bombs to destroy nations with.

Since GM doesn't appear to care about such things, I'll have to pin my hopes on Toyota to deliver plugin technology.

Tony Belding said...

Is GM really sincere about wanting to produce the Volt? I'm sure they are. You can get sincere pretty quickly when you have enough loaded guns in your face.

1. There was the Katrina gas shock, plus continued high and volatile gas prices, which undermines GM's core profit center of SUVs.

2. The "Who Killed" movie was a PR black eye, in striking comparison with Toyota's Prius-driven green image.

3. Though not heavily reported, Toyota was first to announce they intend to produce a PHEV.

4. The Tesla Roadster has turned a lot of heads and made many people take a second look at the whole electric car idea.

So, I have no doubt about GM's desire to produce the thing. I only doubt their ability.

muckdog said...

Well, it'd be nice to see the US companies taking the lead, but Honda is coming out with three new ones, Toyota will be rolling out their 3rd-generation hybrid, and Nissan is ramping up for a new hybrid in 2010.

But I guess if you want a big truck, there will be plenty available on the car lots of US car makers... Crazy.

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