Volt Birth Watch 62: "GM Readies Volt Unveiling to Shift Focus From Crisis"

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
volt birth watch 62 gm readies volt unveiling to shift focus from crisis

GM wants to have a production version of its plug-in electric – gas hybrid Chevrolet Volt ready in time for its centennial this September. Automotive News [sub] cites "people familiar with the project" [Ed: my haven't they been busy today] who say the ailing American automaker is rushing to finish their four-wheeled Hail Mary by September 16, when RenCen celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding by Billy Durant. In spite of the self-imposed deadline, "a GM spokesman declined to comment on the timeline for its next announcements on the Volt, which will include naming a supplier for the vehicle's lithium-ion battery pack." How can GM PR claim a "production version" of the Volt will be ready when they can't even say who'll supply the battery pack eight weeks before the debut? With ease, apparently. GM seems to be banking on the usual fawning media coverage to divert attention from the real issue: crashing sales, a raging cash conflagration and the threat of Chapter 11 just over the horizon. But hey! We'll have a hand-assembled "production" Volt to show off. What more could you want?

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  • KixStart KixStart on Jul 08, 2008

    monkeyboy says, "... GM is pretty large..." Sure. But GM will build only 10K Volts in 2011 (and thousand or two in 2010). These are piddly quantities. GM's other hybrids also sell in insignificant quantities, so there's no way GM can hold other volume business hostage. In that same timeframe, Toyota will build about 500K Priuses and other hybrids. Mitsubishi may build 100K MiEVs (or whatever they're called). Honda will probably aim for well over 100K Prius-fighters of their own. Even Ford will be looking for North of 25K batteries to power their hybrids. GM's volume, in comparison to that, is zilch-oh. Further, price-cutting to establish the brand or product concept is GM's problem with the Chevy Volt. Batteries, however, are an established industry. Suppliers don't have to run loss-leaders. Build a better vehicle battery and auto manufacturers will come to you. And, finally, who's going to trust a GM check to clear? Enough to take an up-front hit in anticipation of future business that will vaporize if GM goes belly-up? A supplier could sell GM 10K batteries at $10K each, when they cost $15K to make and the bankruptcy court could be holding payment 6 months after the bills were sent to GM's purchasing department... That's a winning scenario for any vendor. Up to a point, sure, battery manufacturers want GM's business. Enough to shoot themselves in the foot? You don't want a battery in your car from a manufacturer dim enough or desperate enough to let GM walk all over them. GM is going to pay market rates for their batteries.

  • Kericf Kericf on Jul 08, 2008

    So they think they can hurry up and jam out this car in under 3 years of total development time? It has taken more than 5 (and counting) to get the GOING TO BE THE NEXT GREAT THING...EVENTUALLY Camaro into showrooms. They have already missed the boat with the Camaro and it's sales will be stale when (if?) it ever actually does hit the showroom floor. I guess it's too late in the game to cancel the program, but they were just talking engine changes a few months ago. If they are making engine changes, how close is it really to production?

  • Netrun Netrun on Jul 08, 2008

    Has anyone considered that it's not GM who has yet to choose a battery manufacturer but that no battery manufacturer is yet willing to agree to GM's terms? GM is in serious trouble right now and a smart battery supplier who has many possible customers could turn the bargaining table upside down. They may want cash up front from GM to insure that they make their return should GM go bankrupt before the contract expires. At least I would if I made impossible to find, super-awesome batteries everybody wants.

  • Chanman Chanman on Jul 08, 2008

    I hope all this rushing doesn't result in Volts that spontaneously combust. That'd be a real shot in the sensitive parts for GM's future hybrid hopes.