Gms Volt, Unplugged Before it Ever Gets Plug in

By: Noah Scott

General Motors-world's number 1 automaker and maker of quality -- has amazed the world last January when it announced its plans to build the Chevy Volt which is a plug-in hybrid car seen not much as a vehicle but more of a solution to the surging energy crisis.

The Volt has grabbed the headlines, has become topics of online chat boards and has become the buzz at the auto show in Detroit. Unfortunately, after all the excitement sad news came stating that the Volt may never make it to production.

The main obstacle seen in the production of the Volt is in terms of the battery technology that goes with it which according to the world's largest automaker could take years to build. Before the introduction of the Volt in Detroit it has ignited intense debate within GM whether it is a smart move to include the concept vehicle for the Detroit Show since the automaker knows that once they introduce it the public will surely demand for its production. And that is exactly what happened.

The Volt as expected has created the buzz that the automaker needs for its products -- however there is a problem and that is how to come up with the production Volt which the world is waiting for GM to deliver. If ever the production of the Volt did push through it would have been the biggest environmental breakthrough for this century. But sadly it seems that the Volt would simply remain a concept. At present, company officials are trying to cool things down after disappointing the world by not pushing through with the Volt.

GM has called upon a group of journalists to whom they explained the ordeal that the company will go through if ever they would go on with the production of the Volt. They also stressed that they cannot guarantee that the futuristic car will every hit the road.

According to Nick Zielinski, Volt's chief engineer said, "The pressure is intense. We came out with this idea and now people are saying, 'OK, where is this car. We want it now'."

General Motors said that theirs was not the first disappointment in the industry when it comes to the green technology. It is should be noted that in the year 2004 DaimlerChrysler has promised a production fuel-cell vehicle but was not able to deliver that is in spite of spending $1 billion on the technology. Similarly, with the project called the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles which cost tax payers $1.5 billion to build an 80-mile per gallon car. And just last year, Ford Motor Co. has backed away from a pledge to produce 250,000 hybrids on the road by 2010.

The Volt project with its cutting edge green technology could help GM to become an environmental leader and help it to compete against foreign rivals that dominate the market in the production of earth-friendly cars and trucks. The Volt concept is designed with an electric drivetrain and an internal combustion engine that has the ability to recharge batteries while on the road.

GM previously announced that its Volt concept unlike any other plug-in cars can cover a range of 40 miles on battery power alone that is more than the 20 to 30 miles achieved by current plug-in hybrids. GM also stressed the fact that drivers won't have to stop every time that it needs to charge since the battery charges while the car is in motion.

The Obstacle...
Joseph Phillippi of AutoTrends Consulting in Short Hills, N.J. said, "All of this is irrelevant until they get a battery pack invented. For a long time, they were out there knocking the idea of a plug-in hybrid. Now they're on board, but theoretically, GM is still learning."

The Volt is not the first electric car concept that GM scrap. Remember the EV1? In the year 1990 General Motors has spent $1 billion on its EV1 electric car program which was short lived when GM demanded the return of its leased vehicles. The decision has aroused the anger of environmental groups which leads them to write the documentary, ---"Who killed the electric car?"

GM chairman and CEO Rock Wagoner have accepted the fact that killing the EV1 was his biggest mistake. For one he has seen the benefits that Toyota Motor Corp. has gained out from its hybrid cars. Toyota Motor Corp. the maker of the popular Prius hybrid brand has capitalized on its green image just as more Americans are patronizing environmentalism.

The Volt would have been the redemption for GM. David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor said, "Its breakthrough of immense magnitude-potentially one of the two or three most significant game changers that we've seen in a long time."

Where GM made a mistake...
The Volt concept was not the problem but rather the announcement of Wagoner at last year's Los Angeles Auto Show. It is understandable that GM would like to make a big impression with its unveiling of the Volt however when Wagoner began dropping hints about GM's plans of developing an alternative energy sources that's when expectations began to rise.

And that was further heightened when GM launched its "Vote for Volt" web site, which asks visitors to give their views on whether GM should build the Volt and in case it does will they be willing to buy one. Almost 440,000 people have participated in the said poll. But there are some people who see it as a publicity stunt of a company who is trying to make itself relevant again.

To deal with skeptics, GM try to keep the public updated about vehicles on production. GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said that they want for people to know early about any problems that the company is facing so that they don't feel cheated should the Volt not succeed; a risk which he said would be about 10 percent.

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