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Bob Lutz Emphasizes GM's Commitment to PHEVs
Mar 1, 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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Here are GM's top executives explaining their plans. Below is a blog posting by
GM's Vice Chairman. You'll find many comments since he posted two days ago, including ours (reprinted below) -- go to­archives/­2007/­02/­getting_a_jolt.html to read others and post your own.

Getting a Jolt From Volt

ChevyVoltEPA02 GM Vice President Environment and Energy Beth Lowery and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Steve Johnson listen to Chevrolet Volt Chief Engineer Nick Zielinski explain the inner workings of the Volt at the NAIAS earlier this year.

By Bob Lutz GM Vice Chairman

The introduction of our Chevrolet Volt concept car and E-Flex electric propulsion system at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month created quite a stir, garnering twice the media coverage as the runner up for us, our Chevrolet Camaro convertible.

The Volt came on the heels of our announcement at the Los Angeles show that we've begun work on a Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid, and puts a face on our efforts to diversify the energy sources we use to power automobiles.

However, some cynics accused us of pulling a PR stunt, saying the Volt is simply an attempt by GM to "greenwash" the public and would never be a real vehicle. The truth is just the opposite - we are treating Volt just like any other vehicle we do, giving it a dedicated development team and designating resources for it. With that in mind, I thought I'd take a moment to update you on the program so far.

As you probably know, the development of advanced, lithium-ion battery technology is the key to getting vehicles like the Volt on the road. For the last few months, we've been mobilizing GM's global resources to address the challenges posed by this issue. We've invested in an upgrade to our battery testing and development facilities and we've formed a dedicated battery team whose staff levels will increase by 30 percent over the next two years.

We have also named GM veteran Denise Gray to the newly created position of director of energy storage systems - some of us like to call her "GM's battery czar." Denise has more than 20 years of experience in such areas as powertrain, vehicle integration, electronics and software controls.

We signed two development contracts in January for lithium-ion batteries with two groups of suppliers - Cobasys/A123Systems and Johnson Controls-Saft. We also plan to talk to additional battery suppliers as well.

By the end of this year, we will begin testing the lithium-ion batteries developed in prototypes of the Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid. In the same timeframe, we also expect to have our first demonstration vehicles that use E-Flex. Our previously announced test fleet of Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell vehicles also use the E-Flex system, with a fuel cell stack instead of batteries as a prime supplier of electricity, a further demonstration of our commitment to electric drive and energy diversity.

Make no mistake: These programs are a top priority for GM. We have established aggressive product development timelines - even forming a special executive leadership council for the E-Flex program to expedite product decisions and regularly update those of us in senior management.

We're making progress, and you should expect to hear more in the near future. At the Detroit show we emphasized E-Flex's adaptability, from accommodating different vehicle designs to using various fuels and types of engines. We will prove that capability this year. Stay tuned, we'll update the program periodically here on FastLane.

Take a look at FYI for an interview with's Matt Kelly and Rich Lannen, Advanced Program Engineering Manager for the Volt.

Posted by Lutz on February 27, 2007 02:05 PM

We salute GM for promoting the electrification of transportation. Proponents of plug-in hybrid vehicles and all-electric vehicles think the urgency of the situation from the point of view of energy security, global warming and economic development point to the need to get "cleaner/cheaper/domestically-fueled" vehicles on the road ASAP. We think GM can do this now with "good enough" batteries, knowing that by the time it's at version 3 of the car, ready to sell to tens and hundreds of thousands, better batteries will be available and fully validated.

That's why we're hoping GM will put the questions about its intentions to rest by being first to get substantial numbers of cars out in demonstration fleets (we believe exempted from 150,000 mile battery warranty requirements, and priced higher than they will end up when mass-marketed). See our 16 points about GM's PHEVs -- linked from's home page.

Felix Kramer, Founder, The California Cars Initiative Posted by: Felix Kramer on February 28, 2007 01:55 PM

P.S. Happy 2nd Anniversary to CalCars-News!

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