Ford Inside News banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,679 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Chevrolet Volt: Too different for its own good?
Fortune's Autoworld

Alex Taylor III
December 9, 2010

FORTUNE -- New GM CEO Dan Akerson has been out beating the drum for the Chevrolet Volt lately, looking for ways to double or triple production, placing want ads for 1,000 more engineers to work on electric vehicles, and talking up plans to begin exports of the Volt.

Akerson is new to the auto business, so he can be excused for not being up to date on his industry history. But he may want to start a deep dive into GM's (GM) corporate archives, as well as ordering up a little competitive analysis on an ancient rival -- Toyota (TM) -- before he says any more.

A remarkable story in the Detroit News on the birth of the Chevrolet Volt exposes the kind of thinking that led the old General Motors into bankruptcy -- and illustrates perils that await the new GM if it slips into the same bad old ways.

It depicts a company so preoccupied with its public image that it tended to overlook what was best for its customers and the environment.

It also positions the Volt as a technological outlier, a car built for an agenda that differs significantly from those of its competitors.

Here's the history:

GM pioneered the development of electric cars 20 years ago, but the EV1 was an economic failure; it was discontinued in 1999 at a cost of $1 billion.

So GM's ego was bruised when Toyota brought out the less ambitious but more commercial Prius, a gas-electric hybrid, in 1999 and made it a huge public relations success. "I was getting sick of it," vice chairman Bob Lutz said to The Ness.

Under growing pressure to find environmental solutions and with its status as a technology leader in jeopardy, GM started work on a second-generation, high-mileage, low-emission vehicle.

But, as the Detroit News article reveals, GM was not so much interested in exploring new technology as it was in ensuring that it wasn't going in the same direction as Toyota. Building a better hybrid, for instance, was considered unthinkable.

At the same time, GM's generals were fighting the last war. They were preoccupied with the problem of "range anxiety," the worries about the short range of battery cars that helped sink the EV1.

So when Lutz suggested developing another electric car using new generation lithium-ion batteries, according to the News, he was shot down by CEO Rick Wagoner. "We lost $1 billion on the last e-car we did," Wagoner told Lutz. "Do you really want to do this again?"

Unwilling to play second fiddle to Toyota, yet afraid of doubling down on electric cars, GM came up with a compromise solution: the Volt, which runs on batteries for 40 miles or so, and then switches over to gasoline power. The batteries can be recharged overnight by plugging into a household current for another 40-mile electric run the next day.

By standard industry definition, the Volt is a plug-in hybrid. But to avoid being associated with anything Toyota, GM came up with the awkward descriptive phrase "range-extended electric vehicle."

As a piece of engineering, the Volt is elegant. It drives smoothly under electric power, and when the batteries run down and the changeover is made to the gasoline engine, the transition is imperceptible.

But all that technology and 40-mile EV range comes at cost: the Volt carries a sticker price of $41,000.

That high price could seriously limit Volt's future progress.


Full text at the link
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,900 Posts
I guess we will see with sales results in the next two years.
 

·
Editor
Joined
·
1,173 Posts
The article almost makes the assumption that GM is sitting still with the Volt. Let me be the first to say, Volt 2.0 has already been green-lighted for production. ;)
 

·
Editor
Joined
·
1,173 Posts
How long until it comes? Also, is it going to become a brand?
It'll be a 2015 launch, but they could push it up if development goes well. I don't see Volt becoming a brand. They are too eager to leverage E-Flex to boost the image of the core brands.

GM also has a 4-mode hybrid coming.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,933 Posts
It'll be a 2015 launch, but they could push it up if development goes well. I don't see Volt becoming a brand. They are too eager to leverage E-Flex to boost the image of the core brands.

GM also has a 4-mode hybrid coming.
Thank god it wont become its own brand... they already killed how many?

4 mode hybrid sounds interesting
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,062 Posts
Is that an improvement on the current two mode? Will we see a full Hybrid Malibu built inhouse? What about BAS II. By the way there is a person on your other site who stole my signature.
It'll be a 2015 launch, but they could push it up if development goes well. I don't see Volt becoming a brand. They are too eager to leverage E-Flex to boost the image of the core brands.

GM also has a 4-mode hybrid coming.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
204 Posts
4-mode hybrid! Me likey the sound of that....

GM is kicking ass as of late in the hybrid and FE departments, and its only going to get better... I cant wait to see what GM has up their sleeves with Volt 2.0, BAS II and this 4-mode hybrid....

We better see an eAssist Malibu this summer! 40 MPG on the highway, should help steal a little bit of the Sonatas thunder...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
615 Posts
There will definitely be the "first on the block" customers that must have the newest tech and newest gadgets in the driveway...so the Volt is going to have some great initial sales. Especially with fleet orders from the US Federal Government to support the Obama Administration's Energy Policies and with the announced orders from General Electric.

Once the initial buzz and ballyhoo winds down and the Volt has been out for awhile, once some actual real-world info is released by actual owners/lessees of the Volt speak openly, we'll see just how successful the Volt really is.

I agree with Motor Trend in its choice to award the Volt Car of the Year honors for 2010, it really is a game changer and more importantly shows that GM was committed to its original promise pre-bankruptcy.

Right now though, way too early to declare the Volt any kind of success or failure...we need to sit back and watch history play out.

Now, the Volt being too different for its own good...I say no. Compared to the Leaf and other BEVs on the market or coming to the market, the Volt offers a better compromise of the benefits of EV operation and still affords a range with the combination of gasoline that a normal four-cylinder powered car would have. It is a comfortable, practice, compact sized four seat hatch and looks fairly normal. It's designed to be fairly idiot proof to the consumer who forgets to charge it...or is too lazy too...and it still offers all the comforts and features a car owner would want with out the range anxiety that comes with the Leaf or I-MiEV. The Volt is a great first step...and it shows a path to acceptance of EVs...as the technology is developed. Just leaping into EVs like Nissan and Mitsubishi...that is purely to beat the upcoming CAFE ratings shift that is looming on the horizon.

I will predict that the majority of publicly purchased retail Volts will be leased...not purchased.

That's my Two Cents.

RG59061
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top