Monday, January 08, 2007

Ready For Some Good News?

By Cassandra D

From the Washington Post:

"General Motors Chairman G. Richard Wagoner Jr. on Sunday unveiled an innovative prototype, the Chevrolet Volt -- a plug-in vehicle that derives its power primarily from electricity rather than gasoline -- as the world's automakers take on global warming and U.S. dependence on foreign oil.


"GM put its electric-car plans back on track after being stung by the rising gas prices after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Higher gas prices ended the boom in sales of large SUVs, which have supported the Detroit automakers. They've also watched from the sidelines as the Prius gas-electric hybrid has brought a windfall of positive attention for the Toyota brand.

"'The domestic industry spends hundreds of millions to cultivate image,' said Harley Shaiken, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley. 'What they've been slow to realize is that fuel efficiency is increasingly sexy to many Americans. Even if you don't buy a Prius, you have the sense that Toyota is with the program.'

"GM killed off its previous electric vehicle after corporate officials balked at more than $300 million for further development. At the time, GM nearly had the alternative-car market to itself. GM has played catch-up to Japanese rivals Toyota and Honda, which seized the advantage, turning their electric-car know-how into today's hybrid cars.

"GM's Volt would use its battery pack and electric motor as the primary source of power. The small three-cylinder engine, serving as a generator, kicks in to recharge the battery when power starts to fade. As envisioned, the Volt would have a top speed of 100 miles per hour. It would have an all-electric range of 40 miles, more than what many Americans typically drive in a day, making it possible for some people to commute to and from work without using a drop of gasoline."

And I know of a nice, vacant GM plant they can use to build it.


At 2:13 PM, Blogger Matt Leonard said...

It's great to see a major automaker finally moving forward on what small companies have been proving possible for several years (see Energy CS, CalCars and HyMotion). But while the announcement is exciting, GM still isn't giving any solid timeline on WHEN we can see these cars on the road or HOW MANY cars are actually going to be produced - at best they say 3-4 years if the battery technology is available. There is a demand for plug-in hybrids NOW - there are hundreds of cities, counties, utility districts and fleets already placing "soft orders" for such vehicles. Such early-adopters of these vehicles would provide test markets for GM to refine the technology and build public confidence and interest in these cars.

I have to admit I'm a little concerned that they will use the announcement of these concept cars more to clean up their image than clean up their product line. There is a lot GM can do between now and when we may see these concept vehicles actually on the road.

We all know increasing fuel efficiency is the direction automakers need to head – so let’s get past the hype of a handful of concept vehicles and look at what they are doing with the rest of their fleet. Overall average fuel economy from the Big 6 is worse today that it was 10 years ago and GM is still heavily dependent on its gas guzzling truck lines. In addition to that they are still fighting tooth-and-nail against increasing fuel economy regulations, suing states that try to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and in December argued before the Supreme Court that carbon from tailpipe emissions was not even a pollutant. GM is still planning to expand their Hummer line to become 25% of their overall sales. Consumers still have limited options to find fuel-efficient cars that are affordable, well-built, and fun to drive. There are plenty of things automakers can do today to increase fuel economy – and I'm tired of being shown distracting concept cars that we won't see for 3-4 years if ever.

I've been working with the Freedom From Oil Campaign to make automakers honestly prioritize fuel economy and move beyond oil – check out what we do at

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And some more good news... from today's Wall Street Journal:

"Recently White House energy policy coordinator Al Hubbard told an audience that Mr. Bush's State of the Union message this month would generate 'headlines above the fold that will knock your socks off in terms of our commitment to energy independence.' Some observers think that could mean the White House will even embrace a big increase in gasoline mileage requirements. They note that influential GOP Sen. Ted Stevens of oil-rich Alaska, a longtime foe of such increases, has changed his mind and just unveiled a bill to raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards to 40 miles per gallon within 10 years."

Considering that Bush recently praised UniSolar inventor Stan Ovshinsky (sp?) this could be the start of something big.

At 1:01 AM, Anonymous JollyRoger said...

If you are my age, this is another chapter in an old story.

America, 1975....

Build SMALLER cars for fuel efficiency?!? The American people don't WANT smaller cars!!!

With the stupid looking SUV, of course, they found a way to go back to what they do best-putting themselves a decade behind where they need to be.And this time may well be the last time they do it-Chinese cars are just around the corner.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger Cassandra D said...

Whenever I see I Hummer I think of Jon Stewart's description of the statement a person makes by driving one: "I'm a dick!"

At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Earth said...

Oh man! Al Hubbard and George W. Bush are going to knock my socks off! I'm doing kegels just thinking about the bold-as-brass, climate-shaking eco-orgasm I'm going to have when George W. Bush knocks my motherfucking socks clear the fuck off!

At 12:46 PM, Anonymous turtle said...

Or the way Bill Maher refers to America's fetish for our gas-guzzling "Fuck-You-Mobiles."

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous D'Angelo Barksdale said...

True dat.

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