Jan 07

Did GM CEO Rick Wagoner Really Change Anything about the Volt’s Release Date?

 

wag_volt.jpg

Last week I asked Rick Wagoner, GM’s CEO if he was confident the Volt would be released in 2010. He responded that it would be great, but that he couldn’t guarantee it. That remark prompted a flurry of news reports suggesting GM might be balking on their original plans for release. Here are some of the stories that resulted:

Autoblog (Volt might not come in 2010)

Detroit News (2010 no sure thing)

CNN (GM might miss target)

CNBC (GM’s Volt not ready to electrify)

Winding Road (Maybe not 2010)

Daily Tech (GM adds wiggle room)

Indianapolis Start (Volt might be delayed)

Wall Street Journal (GM’s salvation stuff of science fiction)

Now the first thing that’s interesting is did anyone quote GM-Volt as the source of the news, being that I asked the question…Nope.

Second. Is there really any new information here? Recently Bob Lutz had stated he was 55% confident the Volt could be released in 2010 (post). What does the E-Flex team think of these news reports?

Here’s what the E-Flex spokesman Rob Peterson had to say about it:

I think people are reading more into this than what’s really there. Program timing for the Volt has not changed, nor has our commitment to this program.

Mr. Wagoner’s response while phrased differently, is consistent with what we have said all along, “we continue to work aggressively toward our 2010 internal target, but that date is dependent on the availability of battery technology that meets our safety, performance and durability requirements.”

While initial test results for the batteries over the past two months continue to be very encouraging, more data is needed to reliably predict how this battery will perform over 10 years of cycle life in varying conditions. Only through rigorous testing of the battery, which is ongoing as we speak, will we be able to accurately determine where we are in the development of the battery and the ultimate production date of the Volt.

OK..there are the details…its’ still all about the batteries. They need cycling time to see if the slope of capacity drop-off suggest the packs will still give 40 miles of range at 10 years…When they know, we’ll know.

Now will this post cause a flurry of press? Don’t hold your breath.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 7th, 2008 at 6:00 am and is filed under Release Date, Timeline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 20


  1. 1
    Rashiid Amul

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (6:18 am)

    Lyle, the press can’t really be trusted too much today. They are more interested in “sound bites” than anything of substance.
    Should you have been given credit for that question? Of course. But don’t let it get
    you down too much. There will be more opportunities over the next 3 years.
    Besides that, we KNOW you’re the best.

    Now as for the batteries, I don’t know why I was thinking they were close to done and just needed to be mass produced. I wonder where I got that impression. So they have more testing to do. Good for them. I’m glad to see they are paying attention and trying to make a reliable car that will last a long time.


  2. 2
    Estero

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (6:38 am)

    Good information, Lyle. Thanks!


  3. 3
    Jim I

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (7:33 am)

    The major news networks always like bad news over good news. Especially when they get to pound on big business. It is just in their nature. What I find so humorous about that is that they forget that they are also “big business”, but they do not want to talk about that, do they?

    Look at it this way. If Mr. Wagoner had announced that the Volt would be ready for sale on November 1, 2010, none of the networks would have even reported the story. But if the car was not ready until November 5, 2010, they would all be reporting on “another failure by GM to deliver as promised”. That is why the CEO’s of companies are reluctant to quote hard information about their products. It will either be mis-quoted or come back to bite them.

    And don’t forget that big news with their hundred million dollar budgets and many multi million dollar pretty face correspondents don’t like getting scooped by Lyle at gm-volt.com. So don’t ever expect to get credit from them. But why do you think that we are here to get real info about our next car?????

    Lyle, forget about them. Just keep doing what you are doing and watching that counter at the top of the page. Today it is at 8500!

    :)


  4. 4
    Jean-Charles Jacquemin

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (8:20 am)

    Thanks Lyle, for this information and take courage.

    In other circumstances we all know such situations of other people being credited for what we have done.

    The important thing is to have it done, like keeping gm-volt.com on its development course and the waiting list increasing.

    As Rachiid said in comment #1, the reliability of the batteries is of primary importance, so we all have to be patient, confident and attentive to keep the pressure on GM to have a very good product as soon as possible.

    Thanks again.


  5. 5
    Dave G

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (8:32 am)

    Lyle – given the tone of these news articles, would you really want to be credited as the guy who asked this? Not all recognition is good. I would rather be “the man behind the curtain” on this one.

    As for the Volt production schedule, I think what GM is saying is that they have never worked with this type of battery before, so they’re taking a CYA position on the date.

    My personal opinion is that it will probably slip into early 2011, but probably not because of the battery. With all the attention on the battery, they’ll probably get that working well before 2010. One of the other very new systems will probably take some extra time to iron out. As Frank Weber said here:
    http://www.gm-volt.com/2007/12/17/interview-with-frank-weber-e-flexchevy-volt-vehicle-line-executive-part-i/
    “All the system that have to be electrified are new and specific for this vehicle. Brakes, HVAC systems, steering systems, and so on.”

    As an analogy, the Tesla Roadster always had people worrying about the Li/Ion batteries and the 250hp AC induction motor, but what delays it in the end? The transmission. A special type of 2-speed transmission designed specifically for the Roadster.


  6. 6
    David

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (8:39 am)

    I wonder if people at GM are rolling their eyes at Mr. Wagoners comments, or should I say the wording he used. I agree with everything said above, the press cannot be trusted to report anything for what it is. It seems they had to report the quote as a gloom and doom forecast on the Volt. Sad life the press must live.

    Whatever happened to reporting without conjecture anyways? (or am I living in a fairy tale world of make believe?)

    Thanks for the info Lyle, good work!


  7. 7
    Drake

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (11:52 am)

    Lyle, don’t worry about this man. The site will only gain in popularity and recognition as we get closer to the actual production Volt roll-out. GM-Volt.com is _the_ preeminent Volt site on the web. It’s unfair that you weren’t cited, but in the end the question (and subsequent answer) are what are the most important. Because of your question, media giants around the globe have reported to their vast audiences about the possibility of the production Volt slipping past the 2010 date to some time beyond. This is not good press for GM and it looks like it hurt their stock price, if only intermittently.

    This pressure is a good thing. This pressure will keep GM and their battery partners focused on the final goal. Without this pressure, there is no doubt in my mind that it would be a lot easier for GM to let the Volt slide for “only a few more years”.

    Concerning the battery technology, I think there should be more of a carrot put in place by the government to help draw the needed technology out. I only hope that the next President will put forth some hefty tax credits to spur demand for the Volt so more Volt 1.0s will be produced and therefore done so less expensively.


  8. 8
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (12:00 pm)

    depth and accuracy are sadly lacking in the national press. Lyle — that’s why we’re here! Some non-professionals are vastly more professional than the professionals, you are a shining example of that.

    I’ve heard sound bite reports on CNN about GM Volt, where they completely missed the point. I myself have been incorrectly quoted by press (actually favorably, but still wrong).

    If Mr Wagoner had said, “It’s still just like Bob Lutz has said all along, we’re expecting and aiming for late 2010, but it could be 2011″, the press would not have picked up on it.

    But to think like that requires a team of PR people and lawyers. No wonder politicians stick to sound bites. The main stream press is becoming an impediment to progress.

    Last year I attended a rally in Washington DC and was trying to get more press to attend. I was told straight by one reporter, “If you start a fight with police we’ll come and report it, otherwise we’re not interested.” The free press, a pillar of democracy!


  9. 9
    Mike756

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (12:07 pm)

    I gave up on the mainstream media a long time ago. Your site is so much more substantive. Just keep doing what you are doing.


  10. 10
    Lyle

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (12:37 pm)

    Thanks for your support guys..I really only meant it kind of tongue-in-cheek actually.

    I don’t expect the press quote us too much. It is interesting to see how negativity is what draws the press.

    Here, we are POSITIVE! -but honest.


  11. 11
    ug

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (1:23 pm)

    Hey, it’s ok. What’s another buck or two per gallon in the price of gas between the projected Volt release date and the actual release date. We can all hold on, right? After all, we’ve got plenty of equity in our homes and our ARM mortgate is easy to handle each month.


  12. 12
    GXT

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (1:38 pm)

    This is too funny. GM created a PR-storm around the Volt 3 years before a potential release date that depends on technology that has never been proven (and might not exist). They have Lutz frequently shooting off with over-optimistic predictions. They even went so far as to run commercials!

    As a result, neither the public nor the press has any clue what is going on. Neither got something as big and basic as the Iraq war right, so what chance do they have on something like the Volt? Even on this site (which likely contains the more well-informed members of the public on the Volt) there are incredible misconceptions about the true state of the project.

    GM created this mess and now they have to ride it out.


  13. 13
    Jeff M

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (1:44 pm)

    Lyle, I think you were being sarcastic when you said “Now the first thing that’s interesting is did anyone quote GM-Volt as the source of the news, being that I asked the question…Nope.”

    But in case you weren’t… it was my understanding you asked the question during a press conference. This site was not the actual source of the news for the other media. And it is not media practice to cite who asked the question at such events, but to only quote the person being questioned by the media. President Bush and his press secretary are asked many questions all the time, and it would really bog down news reports if citations had to be given for each question asked.


  14. 14
    Guy Incognito

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (3:56 pm)

    GM can’t be bothered with the Volt right now, they’re to busy trying build cars that drive themselves.


  15. 15
    PaulR

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (4:00 pm)

    [quote comment="25074"]This is too funny. GM created a PR-storm around the Volt 3 years before a potential release date that depends on technology that has never been proven (and might not exist). [/quote]

    This is not really an accurate statement.

    A123′s battery systems do exist and are already a commercial success. They simply have not yet been applied to automobiles.

    Every new car design goes through an R&D and manufacturing ramp-up process that usually takes longer than three years. Same with the Volt.

    If I were GM, I would start hand-building Volts as soon as the design is finalized and the battery is proven … say 2009. Each car on the road would be a PR and marketing gold mine.


  16. 16
    kent beuchert

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (4:35 pm)

    Rona Ansana of NBC was the only non-braindead voice I heard yesterday about this. He said there was no news here and was questioning the intelligence of the stock market, which sold off GM stock, aparently based on this non-news item. You have to remember that most media outlets know nothing about the VOLT and many green blogs are populated with those brainwashed into despising GM, and who aren’t too picky about what is true and what’s not. Some of the headlines I saw would lead their readers to believe that Wagoner had called a prss conference to announce that the VOLT was being delayed!!!
    Lyle, a little advice : don’t present a
    statement like that one as if it were a news item or those who know nothing about the VOLT will think it must be news, else why would it be released? At the very least, a phrase should have been appended, noting that Wagoner’s remarks represented no change to GM’s previous remarks. We’re dealing with an incompetent news media, and bunch of truly incompetent internet websites. We also don’t hand loaded guns to three year old children.


  17. 17
    Mark H

     

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    Jan 7th, 2008 (6:46 pm)

    My first thought when I seen this new blog post was oh I hope Lyle does not feel guilty that it was his question that started a landslide of GM stock and he is doing what he can in damage control.In a few days just as many informed traders will take advantage of this happenstance and make money as the uninformed ones who bailed for no reason.
    I would much rather that they take the time, test the battery in every conceivable manner and then are confidant enough to offer it for sale as well as lease in 2011.

    Mark H (one of two here)


  18. 18
    Eco

     

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    Jan 8th, 2008 (9:16 am)

    You don’t have to be brainwashed into disliking GM…they did plenty over the years to give valid reasons to be disliked. The question to the continued existance of GM is, can they overcome that?

    That is why one little tiny restatement of already known news, is such a big deal. Fortune.com (posted today I think) profiled the “big turnaround” (my quotes, not theirs) of GM in their quest to regain the trust of customers. GM’s struggle is an ongoing story, and Bob Lutz has made the Volt a cornerstone of that story. So yes, anything that even looks like hedging is going to get attention.

    What GM execs need to realize, perhaps, is that they already have the attention of the interested public. Just saying “we are still on track to meet our goal” is news, believe it or not, because the goal is so significant.


  19. 19
    M1EK

     

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    Jan 8th, 2008 (9:21 am)

    The key difference for me is that Toyota didn’t start hyping the Prius until it was ready to sell. Get it?


  20. 20
    mykallb

     

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    Jan 8th, 2008 (11:33 pm)

    # Guy Incognito Says:
    January 7th, 2008 at 3:56 pm Quote

    “GM can’t be bothered with the Volt right now, they’re to busy trying build cars that drive themselves.”

    ====================

    Very good point Guy. Not only does it not make any sense, you should understand that the superlative of “to” is “too”.

    You’re an IDIOT pure and simple. You do not need anyone’s help on this.

    M.