GM Plans for Electric Car Production by 2010

March 08, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

General Motors Corp. announced that it is planning for the production of an all-electric car by 2010.

The company claims that the uncertainty surrounding the Chevrolet Volt, a concept vehicle GM unveiled in January, centered on whether lithium-ion batteries can be developed to power it economically and safely. A functioning Volt prototype is expected by the end of 2007, and GM is claiming that it will take the novel approach of opening much of the development process to the media.

Speaking to reporters at the Geneva Auto Show, GM's Product Chief and Vice Chairman, Bob Lutz stated, "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. We’re sort of outside our comfort zone."

Some critics have questioned whether GM, which has been associated often negatively with gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles and trucks, would actually produce the Volt or rather just look to capitalize on the favorable publicitty that its concept car generated. GM had cancelled an earlier experiment with an electric car marketed in California as the EV1, a decision that made it the target of critics and the 2006 documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

"Competitors who write this off as a PR exercise are going to be brutally surprised," Lutz said. GM is claiming that the Volt is a return to the idea of a mass-market electric car. The Volt is intended to draw its power exclusively from a next-generation battery pack capable of being recharged by a small onboard engine or a normal electric outlet. GM has said it is aiming for the Volt to be able to run for 40 miles on pure electric power, meaning many commuters would be able to get through a day without using gasoline.

Nonetheless, Lutz admitted that there is still a chance that the concept may prove unworkable. "I would say there is still a 10% chance this will fail."