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Opinion: Volt Signals a New Attitude at GM

Chevrolet’s extended-range EV shows a change in culture for the automaker.

by on Oct.21, 2011

Chevrolet's Volt isn't just a new kind of car. It signals a culture change at General Motors.

Chevrolet’s Volt extended-range electric vehicle is a groundbreaking car, one that introduces an entirely new kind of drivetrain.

But here’s amazing fact: After nine months on the market, the Volt has not had a single recall. In an environment where automakers are quick to recall a vehicle for even the smallest problem, the Volt – with a completely new type of drivetrain – hasn’t had any significant problems.

“To date we haven’t experienced any recalls and the car has continuously exceeded most customers’ expectations,” a GM spokesman said.

A Cultural Phenomenon!

Maybe the most important facet of the Volt’s development is how it shows the internal changes inside GM. There was a time when GM would have rushed a promising new technology to market without taking the time to make sure it worked as intended.

Consider what was going on at General Motors during the Volt’s amazingly public gestation. While GM’s leadership and finance people were shepherding the company through a messy and complicated government-funded bankruptcy, GM’s engineers were figuring out how to turn a promising concept that they didn’t yet have a solution to build into a viable vehicle using parts – particularly the lithium-ion battery – that had not yet been tried on such a large scale.


Plans for Buick “Volt” Not Yet Locked in Stone

GM sources deny a Buick version of Opel Ampera is on tap.

by on Mar.31, 2011

Some reports say Buick will get a version of the Opel Ampera plug-in, but sources say the brand will likely have to wait - then get a more distinctive variant of the Volt-based plug-in.

Not long ago written off for dead, the Buick brand is staging a remarkable recovery and, so far this year has outsold Lexus and come close to tackling BMW.  No wonder General Motors is rushing to expand Buick’s relatively modest line-up.

Could a plug-in hybrid be in the works?  That’s been the subject of some intense speculation in automotive and media circles, with some reports suggesting that the brand will soon get a version of the Chevrolet Volt – or more precisely, a version of the Opel Ampera, itself the restyled version of the Volt being launched by GM’s European subsidiary.

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Several well-placed sources confirmed that is one of the possibilities under consideration – and according to one of those, there are “a slew of opportunities we’re looking at.”  But don’t expect to see a Buick plug-in rolling into showrooms anytime soon, if the project even happens, those sources stress.  There are a variety of factors that will influence where GM next rolls out a product using the so-called Voltec drivetrain shared by Volt and Ampera.


Cadillac Developing SRX Plug-In Hybrid

System would differ from Chevy Volt technology.

by on Dec.22, 2010

Cadillac is developing a plug-in hybrid version of its new SRX crossover, sources say.

General Motors’ new Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid could soon get a little brother, this time wearing a Cadillac badge.  Make that a big brother, as the maker will likely add a battery-based version of Caddy’s SRX crossover.

Several GM sources tell that a battery-based model is under development and could reach market in the next two to three years as part of a plan to expand Cadillac’s line-up while also positioning the brand as a serious player in advanced – green – technology, a sector where it currently lags many of its import and domestic rivals.

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Two years ago, Cadillac gave a hint of what could come when it unveiled the Converj concept vehicle.  The distinctive little prototype was intended to use the same driveline as the Chevy Volt.  But while there was initially a push to bring the car to market, interest waned as GM managers had to turn their attention, last year, to the company’s desperate financial problems.


Chevrolet Prices Volt 240V Home Charger at $490

But look to spend $2,000 by the time charger is installed.

by on Oct.08, 2010

SPX Service Solutions' charging system for the Chevrolet Volt will cost $490 plus about $1,475 for installation.

General Motors and supplier of home charging systems will offer a 240-volt home charging unit for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle for $490.

But GM said installation of the system is estimated to cost $1,475 — so to actually have a working charger expect to spend something closer to $2,000 overall.


The Voltec 240-volt charging system can charge the Volt’s T-shaped 16 kWh in about 4 hours compared to 10 if plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet.

SPX is a supplier of home charging equipment and installation services. SPX is planning to offer several home charging systems for the many electric vehicles automakers plan to bring to market in the next few years.

Vivaro Suggests Future Applications of Extended-Range Electric Vehicle Technology

Concept is a European delivery van based on technology in Chevrolet Volt.

by on Oct.07, 2010

The Opel Vivaro concept suggests what might be next for General Motors' extended-range electric vehicle technology.

While the Chevrolet Volt, due to hit dealerships in limited numbers later this year, is critical to General Motors’ resurgence, expanding use of the technology to other types of vehicles will be important for the automaker’s future.

But concepts using what GM calls Voltec technology, have been lacking, partly because the automaker has been so focused on developing the Volt itself, partly because development money has been scarce as the automaker recovers from its 2009 bankruptcy.

There was the Cadillac Converj concept, basically a Volt dressed up in Cadillac clothing, and Opel is planning to sell a version of the Volt as the Ampera.

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Now GM Europe is showing the Vivaro e-Concept, a delivery van that would be capable of traveling about 60 miles on battery power only. The Vivaro’s battery is double the size of the 16 kWh battery in the Volt, which is projected to have an electric-only range of 40 miles.

There are no plans to introduce the Vivaro in the U.S., but it does illustrate how GM might expand its lineup of extended-range electric vehicles beyond the Volt. In theory, the Vivaro’s drivetrain could be placed in a minivan or a Chevy Traverse-style crossover or other larger vehicle.

Four Cars to Get Excited About

Automakers ready some groundbreaking new models.

by on Aug.19, 2010

A prototype 2011 Chevrolet Volt wends its way through Los Angeles traffic. The official retail launch is November 2010.

It’s going to be a fun year for automotive journalists and anyone who loves cars. Here is a list of four cars we’re looking forward to driving this year.

Some of the cars on this list are there because they are true game changers, an over-used term, but one that really applies here. The world is about to change with the world’s first two mass production electric vehicles expected to start production at the end of the year. If you think this country uses too much oil, foreign or domesticly produced, these cars should be on your radar.

But the others are here because they also advance the issue of increased fuel economy. So here we go with the list: