GM's Historical "No Hybrids Here" Decision Revealed

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
gms historical no hybrids here decision revealed

Autoweek's (AW) Special Earth Day Double Issue starts with an opt-out– "'Environmentally friendly' means different thing to different people"– and goes downhill from there. Surprisingly, AW didn't hype GM's next Next Big Thing: the Earth-friendly (providing you overlook the CO2 emissions at the power plants) plug-in Chevy Volt. OK, obviously, they did lavish ink on GM's gas – electric hybrid. Only it was a relatively small article called, get this, "Charged Up." Scribe Greg Migliore held GM's feet to the fire re: the Volt's 2010 deadline. Just kidding. AW hands its main advertiser a "get out of PR jail free" card in the last line. "As Roland Matthe, E-Flex engineering group manager put it, 'It's not a done deal. This project is not normal in regard to risk in the automotive industry.'" So much craven journalism, so little time. Where was I? Roger Hart's "Resurrecting the dinosaurs" road-tripping with the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid to GM ethanol acquisition Coskata? No. "Another Kind of Town" road-tripping the GMC Hybrid to NYC? Nope. Right! " The Believer," a profile of Larry Burns, GM's Veep of R&D. We learn "I personally brought four hybrid proposals before the board in the 1999-2002 period, and all were rejected. It was because of the business case. We just didn't get the courage to lose money on Gen 1." So now you know.

Join the conversation
4 of 13 comments
  • The Luigiian The Luigiian on Apr 26, 2008
    I thought the best part of the green issue was when they mentioned that a ‘92 Civic (or thereabouts) got similar or slightly better mileage than the current Civic Hybrid. For those who didn’t read the article, yes, they did account for the change in mileage testing. Wow. I didn't know this, I had always figured the Ford Mustang 4-cyl with manual was about average for the eighties. That was the only car I bothered to check. Ford F-150 V-6 + manual: 19 mpg (1985) Today: 16 mpg (and the '85 looks better, too, IMHO) '85 Nissan Truck 4 + manual: 25 mpg Today: 21 mpg Now that I've seen it, I kinda wish I hadn't. That makes me cry a little inside.

  • Ejacobs Ejacobs on Apr 26, 2008

    Actually, the '92 Civic VX (lean-burn VTEC-E) was compared to the current Honda Fit. The Civic VX was lighter and got better gas mileage.

  • Johnson Johnson on Apr 26, 2008

    It boggles my mind why people continue to make comparisons such as "(insert old small car here) gets the same fuel economy as a Prius/Civic hybrid. I don't see what all the fuss about hybrids is about". Old small cars have less safety, less interior room, less features, less comfort, and less refinement. They're also more expensive to maintain than a new hybrid.

  • SloStang SloStang on Apr 28, 2008
    Old small cars have less safety, less interior room, less features, less comfort, and less refinement. They’re also more expensive to maintain than a new hybrid. We know that, and it's a bit of apples and oranges to compare the two. The point is, if you're looking at this strictly from a gas mileage standpoint, you get a bigger bang by giving up safety and convenience than by adding a hybrid drive system. What if you have a '92 civic and you're very happy with it? What can you trade it in for that gets the same mileage for