By on October 30, 2009

Like the Volt concept, Weber is outta here! (courtesy:treehugger)

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.

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12 Comments on “Volt Birth Watch 171: Weber Bails...”

  • avatar

    Like every other non-setback at GM, it’s just a flesh wound.

  • avatar

    The folks at GM are definitely inhaling something.

  • avatar


    yeah, bailout money.

  • avatar

    Or, things might actually be “on” schedule. I’m not saying they are but the possibility exists. Another plausible scenario: they don’t want their salary capped by the guvment so they bounce. I reserve my judgment until 3Q 2010.

  • avatar

    His jump to Opel doesn’t make the Ampera less likely. GM selling Opel is what makes that a problem. Even so, the Ampera was a concept. GM sells Chevy in EU. If they wanted to sell it there as a Chevy to keep the IP, they could. While, no one outside of GM knows the status of the Volt, I doubt it is behind. They have been touting it too much for that to happen. My guess, Weber saw the opportunity for a promotion and took it.

  • avatar

    gslippy & texlovera: +1s

    As a design engineer I think it would be very hard to leave a major project like this that I really saw as viable/believed in. It would be a once in a carrer oportunity.

    Not saying there aren’t plenty of valid reasons for him to go…but if this is the start of a trend…


  • avatar
    John Horner

    The smartest rats often get off the ship at the last port before it sinks. There is absolutely no way the Volt will be the company saver/game changer GM has hyped it to be. As an interesting science project designed and funded to move the organization and the industry a touch further into the future the Volt is defensible, but as a Hail Mary pass which is expected to win the game? Nope.

  • avatar

    As a design engineer I think it would be very hard to leave a major project like this that I really saw as viable/believed in. It would be a once in a carrer oportunity.

    Very true, However! Lets suppose for a minute that he feels the Volt will be a monumental flop. In that scenario getting out while the gettin’ is good makes sense. If there is a large amount of excrement about to hit the volt-fan, distance, lots of distance is your best bet if you want to stay clean. So what are the chances that the Volt will be be all it’s builders, buyers, backers claim it will be? I’d say the odds are 5 to 1 against. If I were him I would do likewise.

  • avatar

    Can he really do all that much more for the Volt? Isn’t his main dutiy pretty much done in that respect?

  • avatar

    Look guys despite 50 years of carnage and terminal decline at GM i still sincerely believe there’s some winners at the General. Yes people with grit, talent, honour and the steely determination to put duty above career and see a job right through to its successful launch. I’m backing Frank Weber as a solid Gold company man.

    On second thoughts, maybe the slimey rat jumped camps before this expensive electric toaster fried its diodes and blew up in GM’s face a second time!!

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar


    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!)

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