Volt Birth Watch 31: Born on the Fourth of July?
Last November, GM Car Czar Bob Lutz [s]shot off his mouth[/s] boldly predicted they'd have a Volt test mule on the streets when the Easter Bunny arrived. Now he says that ain't gonna happen. In an interview with Reuters, Maximum Bob now says they'll start road testing the Li-Ion battery packs in July, "slightly later than expected." (Ya think?) He also said they may not name their battery supplier of choice until the second half of the year. BUT… "That may also be a little bit longer now, as we need a better handle on who has the technological capability we need and who is going to have the production capability." That seems to be the mantra for the entire Volt program. Anyone want to place bets that December will become the new July in a couple of months?
Theory: GM thought they should just offer a concept vehicle that would reflect well on their development work, and which seemed to be an evolution from today's hybrids. They put together a wishlist vehicle - and were floored by the enormous response their PR-event evoked. And compared to other concept vehicles, this one refuses to go away - people want to see it happen. Matching reality to the wishlist is proving hard, apparently. (This is nothing new. Look at the Saab 9X concept vehicle from Geneva this year, and compare it to the Saab 9-X vehicle from 2000/2001. Only difference being that they're now speaking of a biofuel engine - they're even using a lot of the same photography. And Land Rover nicked the design in the meanwhile for their own dodo concept.)
I have no doubt that GM will eventually bring this car to market, but I tremendously doubt they will be another manufacturer to it. At the pace the general is going, the troops will be pulling ideas to fix their problems from-you guessed it- Toyota. But hey, at least GM can keep trumpeting their flex fuel vehicles (yeah, i know) and barely noteworthy current hybrids.
Given that, maybe companies should think before producing a concept or make it clear that it's just a fantasy vehicle to dupe people into seeing the rest of their lineup.
To elaborate on Bancho's point, it doesn't bother me that much that the timeline is growing. It happens with R&D. What I find unacceptable is that GM features the Volt prominently in advertising that promotes their broad range of "green" options.