General Motors is quite confident these days. The company
recently priced its highly-anticipated full-size hybrid SUVs
and showed off a concept
version of its full-size hybrid Chevrolet Silverado. GM CEO Rick Wagoner
also noted that his company will release
one hybrid per quarter for the next four years -- lofty goals indeed.
Likewise, the company's brand new Chevrolet
Malibu mid-sized sedan has been generating an overabundance of praise and
its new $32,000 second-generation Cadillac CTS just walked away with Motor
Trend's Car of the Year award.
GM is hoping to use this momentum and high level of interest
in its vehicles to push the electric
motor-powered Chevrolet Volt to customers by the end
GM vice chairman Bob Lutz has heard all of the critics who
question GM's aggressive ramp for the Volt, but is still committed to moving
"There is a lot of skepticism within the company about
the timeline," said Lutz. "People are biting their nails, but those
of us in a leadership position have said it has to be done."
GM is hoping to use the Volt as a halo car to further strengthen
its brand and its commitment to fuel economy. Dodge used the Viper to enhance its image
for performance and styling in the 1990s. Toyota used its Prius at the turn
of the century to shroud the entire company with a green image despite the fact
that gas guzzlers
like the Tundra and Sequoia share the same showroom space.
"When they think of GM, the iconic brand is,
unfortunately, the Hummer," continued Lutz. "That perception needs to
The GM Volt features a 1.0 liter, 3-cylinder gasoline engine
which is solely used to recharge the onboard lithium-ion battery pack. The
battery pack, which will be manufactured by Compact Power and
Continental Automotive Systems, powers the Volt's electric motors for
GM says that the Volt can travel for up to 40 miles on
battery power alone. After the 40 mile threshold has been reached, the gasoline
engine kicks back in again to recharge the battery pack.
The entire industry has its eyes on GM and its Volt. Toyota
took a big risk with its Prius and it has paid off dearly for the company.
"We have since realized that letting Toyota gain that
mantle of green respectability and technology leadership has really cost us
dearly in the marketplace," Lutz added. "We have to reestablish GM's
leadership and the Volt is, frankly, an effort to leapfrog anything that is
done by any other competitor."