My time at TTAC has been full of surprises. Some days it seems that every hour holds a new, more gob-smacking shocker. But the surprise I received today, when I learned that I had been invited to the Volt’s press launch later this month, was one of the least expected and most gratifying to date. After all, not only has TTAC been a longtime critic of GM as a whole, but the Volt has been a special target for us since its conception, even earning its own category in our news blog. I’ve even criticized the Volt project (as opposed to the car itself) in the print media, drawing the ire (of sorts) of the White House press secretary. In the old GM, the very idea of rewarding our relentless criticism, questioning and second-guessing with access to the car itself would have been unthinkable. But today one GM rep explained to me that
The Volt’s been attacked at one point in time by just about everyone. Opinions of the vehicle have been all over the map, but fortunately we now have vehicles for people to drive and experience themselves rather than having to defend it with words and Powerpoint
That GM believes strongly enough in its most high-profile car to allow its most strident critic to drive it marks a material break from past practice (documentation of which abounds in TTAC’s archives, but here’s an especially infamous example). Allowing products (especially a controversial, high-profile car like the Volt) to speak for themselves before their harshest critics speaks to a much-improved culture taking hold at The General. This doesn’t mean the problems are over for the RenCen, but it shows that GM’s new managers are building for the future on a solid foundation of accountability. And that is a big enough deal to warrant a tip o’ the hat.