Volt Birth Watch 167: The Midwife Bails

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Bob Kruse, GM’s executive director of global vehicle engineering for hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries and the man in charge of the Volt’s battery development and integration, is leaving General Motors. The Detroit News reports Kruse is leaving to start an EV consulting firm, creatively named E V Consulting. “My departure from General Motors has nothing to do with my view of the future success for the Volt,” says Kruse. “I’ve left on very good terms. I have a lot of respect for the leadership of General Motors.” And then he goes and confuses everything by claiming, “I’m not going to lie. Are they happy about my departure? Probably not.” And GM’s response? “There’s no good time to lose good people, but that said, the Volt team goes way beyond one person.” Which, for comparison, is a more straightforward response than Tesla’s Elon Musk gave when his head of development and manufacturing suddenly ditched. But the real irony is that GM’s bailout, which at this point is a gamble that rides on the success or failure of the Volt, was the motivation for the Volt’s top midwife to ditch in the middle of its frenzied gestation.

GM’s bailout came with consequences, not the least of which was a cap on executive pay. And GM has been putting the squeeze on white collar employees since the bailout as well. As another auto industry consultant puts it to the DetN,”You can’t blame the guy. What is the prospect of ever making serious money…working for a ward of the government, where your pay is capped?” Gotta love those consultants. And it seems pretty clear that this decision was based on “the prospect of making serious money.” According to the DetN:

Kruse said he decided to leave after Vice President Joe Biden’s announcement Aug. 5 that Michigan and Detroit’s Big Three automaker’s would receive more than $1.3 billion of $2.4 billion in federal grants to support the next generation of batteries and electric vehicles.

And here I was thinking the only reason to work on electric cars was saving the environment, reducing dependence on foreign oil and making the world a better place. Huh.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Porschespeed Porschespeed on Sep 30, 2009
    Pneumatic hybrids are also so large that they cannot be fit into a passenger car and barely into a full-size pickup truck and, because of their very nature, are not likely to shrink anytime soon. Meanwhile, batteries and motor-generators are improving significantly each year. Details, details… As small straight pneumatic vehicles have already been scaled and demonstrated, and as the integration of pneumatic with the ICE has been successfully been executed (see the Swiss gent I referenced earlier), please elaborate. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090131113216.htm The only technical issue that I have seen is that too many people are invested in electric hybrids to move to the simpler tech.
  • CamaroKid CamaroKid on Sep 30, 2009
    nobody quits on principles (we’d like to think that happens)…they quit because they have somewhere better to be Actually most people quit because they think their boss is an idiot Eventually it finally becomes clear to Senior Leadership that the goals you never agreed to and the timeline you never agreed to won’t be met, and the project may well fail altogether… remember it was always risky. Now you’re getting screamed at in the boardroom; the fact that you’ve been working 20-hour days 7-days a week means nothing of course. One Sunday morning, when you’re late going to the office, your wife quietly says, “This is killing you, and you know that you’re never going to get promoted again anyhow after this is done – you should retire. I don’t mind”. That assessment is probably bang on...This guy was a GM lifer... He had been there for 30 something years... He has seen the good and the bad and he stayed for more... Now he is leaving all of his friends and ALL of his life's work.. you don't do that over even a 50% salary cut... That was just restored... especially when the project that you have labored over for the last 4 or 5 years is almost ready to launch... It is ready to launch... Right?