Monday, January 08, 2007

GM's Electric Car - Version 2.0

As I wait for this flick from Netflix, news comes of General Motor's latest attempt at being a responsible automaker (and by "responsible", I mean trying to match consumer demand with products that can be profitable and brand-enhancing).

General Motors Chairman G. Richard Wagoner Jr. on Sunday unveiled an innovative prototype, the Chevrolet Volt -- a plug-in vehicle that derives its power primarily from electricity rather than gasoline -- as the world's automakers take on global warming and U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Wagoner's announcement underscores the depth of GM's previous miscalculation on alternative vehicles and the degree to which the U.S. automotive landscape is changing. In 1990, GM introduced the concept of an all-electric car, the EV1. The vehicle made it to U.S. consumers but didn't survive through the decade.

GM hasn't given a date when consumers can buy the Volt because the advanced lithium-ion batteries needed to power the vehicle -- similar to technology used in cellphones -- are still years from widespread use in automobiles.
Are they even trying at this stage? To me, it sounds as though that whole "strategy" thing is pretty absent from the process. The scent of desperation hangs heavy in the air. Just sayin'... as these batteries might have a wee bit of importance to the ultimate success of this venture. But oh, don't worry, the CEO's on it.
Though the battery technology is still early in development, GM officials say they are pushing ahead. "We are taking a calculated gamble on this," said Robert A. Lutz, GM's vice chairman of global product development. "We are making the bet that the batteries will be available."
Ladies and gentlemen. We're not America's largest potentially bankrupt company for nuthin.

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