Not a day goes by that you don't hear something bad in the press about General Motors. Whether it's the corporation's need in soliciting the government for bailout funds to keep their operations afloat, the news of massive lay-offs, or the impact that the 25-year low for demand on vehicles is having on its bottom line, GM and its executives, employees, and fans have had little to smile about lately. The one thing that does get a room of GM workers going though, is the pride they feel discussing their most ambitious product launch in company history their first pseudo-electric car the Chevrolet Volt.
With a release in 2010 and an approximate sticker price of $50,000, this isn't just another product roll out for Chevrolet. The Volt is Chevrolet's first plug-in series hybrid vehicle with an electric motor and an internal combustion engine not mechanically connected to the wheels. The motor is essentially a "range extender", capable of going 40 miles (or 64 kilometres for our metric friends) before the internal combustion engine kicks in, driving a 53 kW generator. Many feel this is a watershed moment for GM. Some analysts have even gone as far as saying that this is the 'make or break' point for not just Chevrolet, but also General Motors. No pressure, right Volt design team?
Anytime a company stakes its future potentially on one product, I tend to get worrisome, even if Chevrolet fully believes that the Volt will be an 'electric' homerun. Reading news around the web does little to quell my fears for the American motor stalwart. In a recent article in Car And Driver, the writer pointed out some potential issues that can put a damper on the Volt party. The initial launch profitability, the slow release phased rollout of the vehicle and the concern from some analysts that attempts to ramp up production will be too taxing on suppliers, are all issues that should be causes of concern for the "cure" for what ails GM. Fortunately, 2010 is still a ways away, so as we get closer to the inevitable launch, hopefully, the picture is rosier closer to the date. I know I'll be keeping a close eye on the Volt. Let's hope that this is a case where history doesn't repeat itself (like the EV1) and the Volt succeeds. Not just for GM's sake, but for those who wish to see a future with cars that don't burn fossil fuels.