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Chevrolet Volt
General Motors' all-electric Volt to reach consumers in late 2010

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 of 2010.

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 forward.

"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 change.

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 forward propulsion.

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."

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RE: Lets see real world performance
By TomZ on 11/21/2007 5:59:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure you realize already that Canada is the US's #1 supplier of crude, and that just a fraction of our oil comes from the Middle East. In other words, the dependence on the Middle East is kind of an exaggerated potential problem, if you ask me.

That's not to say that OPEC couldn't spoil the market and cause us lots of trouble, however. We just have to look to recent past history to see how this can happen.

As an analogy, we could say that we would face a large crisis in consumer goods if China decided to stop selling to us. That would have a huge short-term economic impact on the US just like oil could, but nobody seems concerned about that at all.

RE: Lets see real world performance
By Hoser McMoose on 11/21/2007 6:27:16 PM , Rating: 3
and that just a fraction of our oil comes from the Middle East.

Two points. First off that "fraction" that comes from the middle east is actually about 25-30%. Yeah, Canada provides more as a single country (though not much more than Saudi Arabia), but the Middle East as a whole provides quite a bit more than Canada.

Second, just because that is where the U.S. gets it's oil doesn't really change much. The fact of the matter is that the Middle East is where about 50% of the worlds oil comes from and oil is an international market. If the Middle East stops selling all their oil than there will be 50% less oil to buy.

RE: Lets see real world performance
By masher2 on 11/22/2007 12:22:35 PM , Rating: 1
> "but the Middle East as a whole provides quite a bit more than Canada."

Actually, according to Sep 07 data, US imports from the entire Middle East are roughly equal to those from Canada.

> " The fact of the matter is that the Middle East is where about 50% of the worlds oil comes from "

No. All of OPEC combined (which includes all the major Middle Eastern suppliers, plus nations like Venezuela, Libya, Nigeria, etc) only accounts for some 40% of world oil production.

OPEC is important not because of the raw production numbers, however, but because it controls the vast majority of spare capacity. That means it has the ability to control prices, by and large. Other nations could potentially raise prices by cutting production, but only OPEC can lower them.

"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki
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