Gm Accelerates Electric Car Development

By: Zeke Gervis

At the General Motors Corporation's annual meeting, GM chairman Richard Wagoner emphasized to the shareholders that the Detroit car company is serious about accelerating the development of the new technology that is required to power the electrified Chevrolet Volt.

However, the day right after the shareholders' meeting last Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, Wagoner was in Washington D.C. together with top executives from the Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Corporation discussing on tougher new fuel economy standards that is still pending in Congress.

Wagoner frankly said that it is about time to move beyond the limits of exclusive reliance on the traditional regulatory approaches that visibly has not resolved the critical problems on new fuel economy standards. He added that Americans deserve a positive move that would embody solutions which will give the appropriate solutions to the overriding problems.

He sited bio-fuels as examples. He said that bio-fuels have the biggest potential to really minimize US oil consumption (for the country to further increase production of goods); limit imports of oil that makes the US economy very dependent to oil exporting countries; and lessen emissions of carbon gas that is severely making a negative impact on the environment.

A sharp response from environmental and consumer groups was implied by the appearance of Wagoner and counterparts Tom LaSorda of Chrysler and Alan Mulally of Ford.

The Director of Research at the Consumer Federation of America, Mark Cooper, said that the proposed target of fuel efficiency was 30 percent too low. It was proposed by the US carmakers and Toyota - the Japanese rival.

Pam Solo of the Washington-based Civil Institute said that now is the time for Washington and Detroit to tackle the fact that the US is unnecessarily losing the race to develop the best fuel-efficient vehicle technology. He said that this should be done as Detroit's Big Three car companies (GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler) and giant Japanese manufacturer Toyota launch an astoundingly short-sighted advertising and persuading campaign to hinder even modest refinements in the fuel efficiency of vehicle.

He added that increasing fuel efficiency can at the same time minimize the country's dependence on the Middle East region, trim down greenhouse effects, as well as save quality auto industry jobs thereby helping build the US economy.

Moreover, she pointed out surveys of potential voters which revealed that 75 percent are in favor of tougher emissions standards.

However, Detroit's Big Three remain reliant on the sales of gas-eating pickup trucks and big sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

Jeremy Anwyl, the President of Edmunds, a very influential web site on cars and other vehicles, noted that his firm's data depicts that the sales of large SUVs and pickup trucks are slopping down due to the consumers' responses on the continuously increasing gas prices. The data also showed that consumers who visit Edmunds site believe that there will be increased sales of small cars as an effect of the gasoline prices.

Wagoner seemed to be preparing for the trend has announced at the annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday the awarding of two contracts for the advanced development of lithium-ion batteries for its new Chevy Volt - concept car that was introduced in January at the Detroit auto show.

Wagoner said that the Volt is being developed as part of GM's strategy to divert their cars from petroleum.

GM officials said this week that the company also faces a serious image problem, particularly due to increasing fuel-conscious Americans.

In a latest speech, United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger summarized that the car-buying public perceives the Big Three as manufacturers of nothing but gas-eaters, while Japanese competitor, Toyota is an advocate of less fuel consumption.

About General Motors Corporation
General Motors Corporation is the largest auto company in the world by sales revenue according to the 2006 records. Founded in 1908 in Flint, Michigan, it has its global headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan, USA. It manufactures its line of products in 33 countries around the world.

It sells it products under the marques of Cadillac, Chevrolet, Corvette (as a stand-alone brand in Europe and Japan), Daewoo, Elmore, GMC, Holden, Hummer, LaSalle, Marquette, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall, and Viking.
Aside from cars and other vehicles, General Motors also manufactures top of the line auto parts such as .

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