Volt Birth Watch 71: Ready by 2010. NOW Can We Have Our Tax Break?
Exchanging emails with GM's VP for R&D Larry Burns, Design News reveals that the plug-in electric – gas hybrid Volt's much-discussed 2010 "completion" date means "selling Chevrolet Volt to real customers in 2010." But Burns admits that there's a small "challenge." "One of the important challenges remaining is proving ten-year, 150,000-mile life when we're developing the battery over a three-year timeframe," acknowledges Burns. "Obviously, we'll protect the customer in this regard with our warranty, but we still need to prove out the required durability." Or… plan to take a bath on warranties six or seven years in? Then there's the issue of quality control; the Volt's "battery packs will each have 200-300 cells, which need to work all the time." As opposed to regular cars which you can just kind of slap together? Anyway, it's not long before Burns is making his case for Uncle Sam's assistance. "The industry is transitioning from the old automotive DNA of stand-alone vehicles that are powered by internal combustion engines, energized by petroleum and largely controlled mechanically," says the R&D VP. "We're moving to a new DNA that encompasses electrically driven vehicles energized by electricity or hydrogen, controlled electronically and 'connected' to other vehicles and the infrastructure." And that means "government is an equal partner with the auto industry and the energy industry in realizing the transformation to advanced propulsion vehicles." So… "we're also going to need government help in the way of incentives." Yes way.
The begging for money schtick makes me sick. Every President since The Raygun has had some kooky initiative to "transform" our auto industry, - usually involving handing checks out to the den of thieves - to develop some True Communism-mobile that would burn grape-nuts and exhaust Perrier. It would be an interesting compilation to add up all the realized gains, either direct checks or indirect tax-breaks, amassed by the domestics over the past ten years. All that fat was reaped with the idea of the Car of the Future being the goal. The result? Hummer. Oh, and some mis-placed chauvinistic laughing at hybrids sold by the Japanese. Anytime you see a Detroit suit laugh or dismiss something new from a a foreign automaker that seems quirky, buy stock in said foreign automaker because that quirk is going to be a hit in the marketplace.
Parts to work for 10 years. Manufacturers have grown up in a throw away world where anything that lasts a long time is viewed with suspicion. The "we've had that for five years - time to change it" brigade do not expect to keep a vehicle for more than a couple of years