Volt Birth Watch 171: Weber Bails

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Frank Weber, the man in charge of GM’s electric vehicle line, will be leaving GM for a senior leadership at the soon-to-be-sold (or not?) Opel. Weber previously worked on Opel’s development of GM’s global mid-size (Epsilon II) vehicle line, before becoming the head of GM’s electric vehicle development program in March 2007. Weber is the second senior executive in GM’s global electric, hybrid and battery development organization to leave in a month, following Bob Kruse’s departure at the end of September. And as with Kruse’s exit, the sound bites coming out of GM seek to portray the loss as no big deal. “There is a huge difference in the Volt program from when I came here,” Weber tells Bloomberg. “The entire organization has inhaled what we do here.” In reality though, Weber’s defection makes the introduction of the Opel Ampera (as the Volt will be known in Europe) even more difficult than it was already shaping out to be.

The Volt’s technology can not be entrusted to either Magna, which develops EVs for GM’s competitors (like Ford’s Focus EV) or Magna’s partner Sberbank, which would be likely to sell the intellectual property to a Russian automaker (GAZ). Weber says his role will be to act as a liason between GM (which will have a 35 percent stake in new Opel) and the new company’s owners, putting him directly in the middle of the Opel sale’s biggest challenge: sharing IP and development capacity between all of Opel’s stakeholders. In any case, the trained engineer will not be working on further development of the Volt. And as a second executive abandons GM’s EREV moonshot, it seems pretty clear that the program has major shortcomings that execs don’t want to be associated with. After all, New Opel is hardly a sure thing itself.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Lw Lw on Oct 31, 2009

    Don't be so sure about the Volt being a failure. Imagine the following: - The FEDs get the health care industry under their control and need to move on. - They launch an all out attack on oil. Huge gas taxes at the pumps and an ad campaign about the evils of foreign oil - No drilling for domestic oil since the tree huggers would object - $10 a gallon gas with the most of it being taxes - Those taxes then funneled into massive rebates for electric cars. Maybe the Volt costs $40K and you get $10K a year for 4 years off your taxes to offset the cost. So anyone that doesn't buy in to the Volt is a sucker... The game is rigged.. you just have to figure out how before everyone else does.

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Nov 02, 2009

    LW only problem with that plan is the Democrats are about to be booted out of office in oct next year. Here in Europe we've had a mass migration in voting patterns to the right which you can bet on will be repeated in the USA i think climate change which is based on junk science propagated by Govt funded croney scientists is on its last legs. Copenhagen in Dec this year, like the G20 meetings, will be all waffle and no action (that's politicians for you!)

  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
  • Lou_BC "That’s expensive for a midsize pickup" All of the "offroad" midsize trucks fall in that 65k USD range. The ZR2 is probably the cheapest ( without Bison option).
  • Lou_BC There are a few in my town. They come out on sunny days. I'd rather spend $29k on a square body Chevy
  • Lou_BC I had a 2010 Ford F150 and 2010 Toyota Sienna. The F150 went through 3 sets of brakes and Sienna 2 sets. Similar mileage and 10 year span.4 sets tires on F150. Truck needed a set of rear shocks and front axle seals. The solenoid in the T-case was replaced under warranty. I replaced a "blend door motor" on heater. Sienna needed a water pump and heater blower both on warranty. One TSB then recall on spare tire cable. Has a limp mode due to an engine sensor failure. At 11 years old I had to replace clutch pack in rear diff F150. My ZR2 diesel at 55,000 km. Needs new tires. Duratrac's worn and chewed up. Needed front end alignment (1st time ever on any truck I've owned).Rear brakes worn out. Left pads were to metal. Chevy rear brakes don't like offroad. Weird "inside out" dents in a few spots rear fenders. Typically GM can't really build an offroad truck issue. They won't warranty. Has fender-well liners. Tore off one rear shock protector. Was cheaper to order from GM warehouse through parts supplier than through Chevy dealer. Lots of squeaks and rattles. Infotainment has crashed a few times. Seat heater modual was on recall. One of those post sale retrofit.Local dealer is horrific. If my son can't service or repair it, I'll drive 120 km to the next town. 1st and last Chevy. Love the drivetrain and suspension. Fit and finish mediocre. Dealer sucks.
  • MaintenanceCosts You expect everything on Amazon and eBay to be fake, but it's a shame to see fake stuff on Summit Racing. Glad they pulled it.