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Transcript of GM's Volt Launch Event: Wagoner & Lutz
Jan 9, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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As we noted at­calcars-news/­642.html, at­archives/­2007/­01/­chevy_volt_conc_1.html, you can watch the 18-minute streaming video of Sunday's launch announcement, featuring an effective thematic introduction, then comments by Rick Wagoner, CEO and Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman, Product Development, and Chairman, GM North America. Here's a rough (unofficial) transcript of what was said, prepared by able and speedy volunteer, Greg Willey.

Also, we are pleased to announce that our well received "16 Points About GM's Long-Awaited PHEVs" is now available as a 2-page printable PDF at­gm-phevs-faq.html and­downloads.html.

GM Chevy Volt Presentation, January 7, 2007

[Speech starts at 1:22 of video stream]

Rick Wagoner: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to GM's 2007 auto show season. About six weeks ago at the Los Angeles auto show I delivered a speech on a very important subject for all of us; the inevitability and the promise of energy diversity. I highlighted some serious concerns about sustainable growth, the environment, and energy availability and supply; issues that have come to be called energy security. I made the point that it is highly unlikely that oil alone will supply all the world's rapidly growing automotive energy requirements. For the global auto industry this means that we must, as a business necessity, develop alternative sources of propulsion based on alternative sources of energy, in order to meet the world's growing demand for our products. And in our view the key is energy diversity. At GM this means we'll continue to improve the efficiency of the internal combustion engine as we have for decades. But it also means that we'll dramatically intensify our efforts to displace traditional petroleum based fuels by building a lot more vehicles that run on alternatives such as E85 Ethanol and very importantly by significantly expanding and accelerating our commitment to the development of electrically driven vehicles.

What are electrically driven vehicles?

Well, they are cars and trucks in which electricity turns the wheels. From traditional electric vehicles like our EV1 to hybrid vehicles to fuel cells. All these types of vehicles are driven all or in part by electricity. An electric motor turns the wheels. As evidence of GM's commitment to electrically driven vehicles I announced in Los Angeles that we'd begun work on a Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid production vehicle which will provide significantly better fuel economy and diversify the energy sources driving the vehicle. Production timing for our plug-in hybrid will depend on the rapid development of battery technology. Toward that end we announced another important step just last week; two new advanced battery development agreements to design and test Lithium-Ion batteries for use in the Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid.

Now we're making another significant and important step in our commitment to an electrically driven future. Today I'm pleased to announce that GM has begun production work on E-Flex, a family of electrically driven propulsion systems specifically engineered for future small and mid sized GM vehicles.

What exactly do we mean by E-Flex?

Well the E is no surprise. It stands for electric, because no matter how the vehicle is configured it will always be driven exclusively by electricity. This is a major difference between E-Flex and hybrids. Hybrids can be driven with an internal combustion engine or an electric drive or both systems simultaneously. E-Flex vehicles will always be driven by electricity.

Now what about the second half of the name?

Well that's really the interesting part of all of this. E-Flex is flexible because the electricity it uses to drive the vehicle can come from a wide range of fuel sources. It can come from a hydrogen fuel cell. It can be generated by running a small motor running on ethanol or bio-diesel or synthetic fuel. Or it can come from the power grid and be stored in a battery. And when the electricity comes from the grid it can be generated by natural gas, coal, nuclear power, wind, hydro-electric, and so on. In short, E-Flex vehicles will enjoy one of the really outstanding benefits of electricity. The opportunity to diversify fuel sources for the vehicle.

Now E-Flex is also flexible because it offers flexibility around the globe. Europeans rely more on diesel fuel than North Americans. Brazil has gravitated to E100 ethanol and we see tremendous opportunities with bio-fuels here in the US. China meanwhile may well be the first country to develop a broad based fuel cell infrastructure. By setting up a propulsion system that allows us to power vehicles with any of these fuels E-Flex provides us with a single elegant solution. In short E-Flex creates options. It will allow GM to leverage a range of electrically driven propulsion systems as well as benefit from the inevitability and the promise of energy diversity.

As you heard in the opening video E-Flex helps us see old challenges with new eyes. Perhaps most important, E-Flex is another big step in GM's commitment to electrically driven vehicles.

And now it's my pleasure to introduce the latest evidence of that commitment; a dynamic concept vehicle based on E-Flex technology; a sleek design that's already generating a lot of electricity in its own right.

Narration voice: Ladies and gentlemen the 2007 Chevrolet Volt concept.


Bob Lutz: Thank you Rick. I'll make sure we both get a wallet size copy of the photographs.

Well here it is, the Chevrolet Volt; an electrically driven car from General Motors. I am shocked, truly shocked. A GM electric vehicle is an Inconvenient Truth. And the truth is we are moving forward with technology that will unite several sources of energy and E-Flex technology is the conduit that is going to make that happen. The Chevy Volt is a real world example of how E-Flex can be configured into an extended range electric vehicle. It's equipped with a small engine and an onboard generator that creates electricity to recharge the electric propulsion system when necessary.

Now beyond proving that our E-Flex system can be applied to real vehicles, the Chevy Volt proves another very important point, and that is that environmentally conscious cars can actually look good as well. This is a no compromise design. The Volt was designed in collaboration with GE Plastics. In incorporates advanced material technology from GE in the roof, in the exterior body panels, the instrument panel, and interior lighting. Now these GE advanced materials save weight and allowed our designers to create shapes that wouldn't be possible with more conventional materials. So, I hope you'll come up and take a closer look inside and out and see for yourselves when we conclude.

On the road the Chevrolet Volt can go up to 40 miles using only its Lithium Ion batteries to drive the wheels. Now, when greater range is required its unique flex-fuel internal combustion engine kicks in. Note, that this engine, unlike in hybrids, this engine never drives the wheels. Rather, along with a generator, the engine creates more electricity to drive the vehicle on electric power. Now, why does the Volt get 40 miles of pure EV range and not more. Well, interesting fact, 78% of Americans live within 20 miles of work. So, if your daily driving, whether to work or running errands or recreational use, is 40 miles a day or less and you charge the vehicle every night when you get home you will never need to buy gasoline during the entire life of the vehicle. And you would save 500 gallons of gasoline and eliminate 4.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year from the tailpipe.

Now, even if your daily driving is 60 miles to where you would be doing 40 purely electrically and then 20 with the generator-set cut in you would still be averaging 150 miles per gallon based on EPA city-adjusted cycles. And, should you use E85, which of course is 85% alcohol and only 15% petroleum-based gasoline, you would get more than 500 miles per equivalent petroleum gallon; obviously, because E85 is only 15% petroleum. By using electricity or hydrogen, which is simply stored electricity in a different form, Americans and people all over the world would decrease their dependence on oil without decreasing their personal independence, which is the kind of personal independence that we can only get from the privately owned automobile.

Now, as Rick said, it's the flex part of E-Flex, it's wide range of potential energy sources, that makes this architecture so significant. Let's say we do a vehicle with a Lithium-Ion battery that is plug-in capable like this Chevy Volt here, meaning that it receives and stores energy from the electric power grid. Such a vehicle would be equipped with a small flex-fuel engine that can run on ethanol or bio-diesel and that would be used to recharge the batteries while the vehicle is running. This will dramatically extend its range to over 600 miles by the way.

Beyond that example, the capability of E-Flex runs the gamut of energy sources and applied technology including fuel cells. If E-Flex were configured with a fuel cell for example, the vehicle could be equipped with a much smaller battery which would simply be there for initial acceleration boost and for the capture of the energy from regenerative braking. The fuel cell would be driving the wheels just as it now does in our Chevrolet Sequel fuel cell concept car. Now all of these examples have one thing in common; they are electrically driven vehicles that provide us the opportunity to diversify the fuel sources that generate the electricity that actually drives the wheels. And that is the real beauty of E-Flex. That's what makes it a global solution that can be adapted to suit local and regional needs. And I think that's what makes it a whole new ball game.

I've been talking about GM's transformation into a company with a bone deep commitment to design and technology leadership. E-Flex is a huge part of that. A perfect example of what we've been saying, and I'm honestly excited and as passionate about this program as I have ever been about anything that I've done in my 40 years in this business.

So with that I'd like to thank you very much for your attention. Rick and I will be up on this stage, we'll be joined by John Lauckner, Vice President of Global Program Management who is one of the huge driving forces behind this program. And Tony Posawatz, who has been assigned the responsibility of vehicle line director as we engineer this vehicle. Between the four of us, especially from the two experts, I'm sure that we'll be able to answer the bulk of your questions.

We will also be happy to answer any questions you may have about our "Clean Sweep" of the car and truck of the year awards.


Thank you very much for that applause. It's Saturn Aura car of the year; Chevy Silverado, truck of the year. And I think it's a vindication and a reward that we gratefully accept on behalf of all of the really really skilled and talented people at General Motors who want just one thing and one thing only and that's to return General Motors to the top of the world auto industry in terms of vehicle excellence.

Thank you very much.

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