Electric Vehicles

GM To Unveil All-Electric Car By 2010

General Motors Corp has set a target for production of an all-electric car in 2010. The information was divulged by Bob Lutz, GM’s product chief and Vice Chairman.

Lutz said the major uncertainty facing the Chevrolet Volt, a concept vehicle GM unveiled in January, was whether lithium-ion batteries can be developed to power it economically and safely. “A running Volt prototype is expected by the end of 2007. GM would take the unusual step of opening much of its development process to the media,” he explains.

“We have set an internal target of production in 2010. Whether we can make that or not, this is still kind of an unpredictable program for us,” Lutz told reporters on the sidelines of the Geneva auto show. He added, “We’re sort of outside our comfort zone.”

The automaker detailed its plans for the all-electric Volt at the North American Auto Show. GM is aiming for Volt to be able to run on pure electric power for 40 miles. This means that a commuter could be able to get through a day without the use of gasoline. However, GM did not disclose the production timeline of the said all-electric vehicle. Critics and rivals have expressed their doubts as to whether the automaker would produce the Chevrolet Volt or might just rely on the popularity of its concept car. “Competitors who write this off as a PR exercise are going to be brutally surprised,” Lutz said.

Electric cars like the Chevrolet Volt have drawn considerable attention and support from environmental groups from the United States. These groups perceive the cars’ potentials in curbing foreign oil dependence and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Lutz said GM’s initial work had shown that the production version of the Volt would have to shed some of the bold styling cues of the concept, including the extreme front placement of the wheels. These styling follows the auto trend these days that is aimed at producing bolder and more efficient designs.

Nowadays, most of the automakers are acknowledging change as its growth factor. Even the most simple auto parts like Volvo control arms and other accessories are now designed with tough competition on the mind. “I know we cannot make the production car look like the concept,” Lutz said. “The whole shape of the car is going to have to be a little more traditional.” Lutz also said there was still a chance that the concept could prove unworkable. “I would say there is still a 10 percent chance this will fail,” he added.

Separately, Lutz said that the automaker’s 11-percent increase in America’s retail sales in February suggested that GM was starting to find traction with new products after a wrenching restructuring that cut over 34,000 factory jobs. “One swallow does not a summer make, but I think it’s turning,” he said.

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