• 03.31.09

U.S. Government: Chevy Volt Can’t Save GM From Itself

The Chevy Volt was supposed to be GM’s golden ticket, the thing that could save the ailing car company from becoming a relic in the automotive world. But according to the U.S. government’s automotive task force, the all-electric Volt isn’t enough to save GM.

Chevy Volt

The task force’s Viability Summary of GM doesn’t sugarcoat the problems that the company faces. One particularly damning section notes:


“GM is at least one generation behind Toyota on advanced, ‘green’ powertrain development. In an attempt to leapfrog Toyota, GM has devoted significant resources to the Chevy Volt. While the Volt holds promise, it is currently projected to be much more expensive than its gasoline-fueled peers and will likely need substantial reductions in manufacturing cost in order to become commercially viable.”


The report goes on to say that GM still relies too heavily on trucks and SUVs for the Volt to make a significant profit.

For its part, GM claims that the Volt is only one of many green technologies that the company has in development. GM is also purportedly working on a refinement to its internal combustion engine, biofuel development, and a hydrogen fuel cell fleet.

Still, GM says that the $40,000 Volt will be in showrooms by the end of next year, with prototypes on the road this June. The four-door electric vehicle (EV) will get 40 miles to the charge, and a small gasoline-powered engine will recharge the battery to extend the car’s range to 200 miles. 

Congress doesn’t want to give GM any money unless it develops EVs, yet at the same time it condemns the Volt, as Autobloggreen points out. But the company would have been better served by focusing on a diverse hybrid fleet instead of putting all its eggs into one unprofitable basket. Looks like we’ll have to rely on small companies like Tesla and Think for our electric car needs until the Big Three shakeup is complete.

[Via The Detroit News]

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.