By on August 27, 2011

GM tightened its ties with Volt battery cell provider LG this week, announcing a deal to jointly develop next-generation electric vehicles. GM, along with the other Detroit-based OEMs, have been seeking closer ties with their suppliers, and as the JoongAng Daily reports, this deal helps LG at a time when the Korean conglomerate has been struggling

Two of LG’s pillars – LG Electronics and LG Display – are floundering. LG missed the boat on smartphones and persistently-low prices of display panels have plagued LG Display.

LG officials are hoping the EV project will give it momentum.

And though it’s no surprise that GM wants to move into the pure-EV market, its gamble on the extended-electric Volt has backed it into something of rhetorical corner.

LG President Cho Juno tells JoongAng that

This partnership is strategically important for LG’s future. We fully support GM’s goal to lead the industry in the electrification of the automobile.

Of course, the Volt represents an aspect of “the electrification of the automobile,” but based on media reports it seems that the deal is aimed at “jointly designing a range of electric vehicles from the bottom up.” That indicates that GM is making a bigger bet on pure-electric cars. But given GM’s Volt marketing emphasis on “range anxiety” and recent quotes by GM North America boss Mark Reuss, the firm will have to overcome its own anti-pure-EV rhetoric if it ever wants to market pure EVs in the US. A few months ago, Reuss told a crowd at GM’s Spring Hill plant, not far from where the first pure-electric car from a major OEM, the Nissan Leaf, will be built that

(The Leaf) has a finite range and requires infrastructure and charging to run it, where the Volt is really an extended-range electric vehicle. The Volt can really be the only car you own. You better be living within a certain range for the Leaf. … It’s a lot different market, a lot different car and a completely different driver.

I’m not sure if I’d put the Leaf in the hands of my three kids. Say, what if they can’t charge it? What if they get to school and can’t charge it? The Leaf is a single-purpose car.

At the time, this was understandable: Nissan and its partner, Renault, have made a huge global gamble on the pure-electric car. With the extended-range Volt leading GM’s electrification efforts, all of The General’s marketing eggs were in the “range anxiety” basket. But when short-term prerogatives conflict with long-term strategy, a little care becomes necessary. And when GM finally brings a pure-electric car to the US, Reuss is going to have to explain why he would let his kids drive it, and not the Leaf. That might not be easy…

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6 Comments on “GM, LG Team Up For “Single Purpose” EVs. Will Mark Reuss Let His Kids Drive One?...”

  • avatar

    I thought it was pretty clear from the beginning that the Volt is a lot like the VCR/DVD player combo from years ago. Sure it was more expensive than just a DVD player, or just a VCR, but people had lots of VHS movies and the stores didn’t carry every movie on DVD yet. So, the extra expense was justified in the added convenience and versatility of being able to watch your movies in any format. It had its time and place, but eventually technology moved on and we went to solely DVDs.

    Replace VCRs with ICEs, DVDs with electric motors, and the stores/peoples personal movies collections with our electric infrastructure and I think it shows the Volt has its time and place, which is now as we transition to alternate energy sources for our automobiles. Eventually the market will transition to more pure-electric friendly as the infrastructure adapts to the new technology. Hence GM will need a new device that plays solely DVDs… I mean is propelled only by electricity.

    My guess is Reuss won’t let his children drive a Leaf because the current technology may leave them stranded. BUT as technology advances the chance of being stranded will decrease.

    PLUS, they won’t have to worry about rewinding… wait… what??

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      I’m a big fan of EVs (hope to own one someday), but I don’t think we’ll ever see a transportation world completely free of internal combustion, at least not for a long time. Likely the next 20 years will bring us a spectrum of choices ranging from pure ICE to various hybrids to pure EV.

      I don’t think your analogy is entirely valid, because DVDs were clearly superior to VHS cassettes in just about any category you can think of, whereas ICEs will continue to have certain advantages over EVs for some time to come (and EVs will have some advantages over ICEs). It really depends on each consumer’s needs and desires.

      • 0 avatar

        You’re right. My comparison isn’t rock solid, but my point was basically the Volt is helping us transition to fill a need we have right now. As needs change so must the products that fill them.

    • 0 avatar

      VCRs and DVDs are for enjoyment. Not for torturing yourself and/or deluding yourself that you’re saving the environment.

  • avatar

    … and now we’re moving on from DVDs to direct downloads without dedicated players.

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