There is still uncertainty about exactly how and where GM will launch the Volt come November 2010. Earlier reports suggest San Francisco and Washington DC have caught GM’s eye due to plug-in readiness, but GM denies that those locations have been settled upon.
I had the chance to gain a little more insight into this process by asking Jon Lauckner. Jon is GM’s VP of global program management, and is along with Bob Lutz, co-creator of the Volt concept.
Do you have a better idea now how many Volts you will build and where they will be released?
We have a better picture, but I wouldn’t say we have finally settled on it. I would say what we have decided is we probably are not going to use an approach where we launch the Volt simultaneously in all markets in the US. Lets face it, this vehicle is a bit different than a normal vehicle. We need to make sure that all of the charging infrastructure is in place so that all people have a really good customer experience.
There needs to be some education and training. Obviously if people buy a Volt and they don’t plug it in at night or they plug it in only sporadically they’re going to have a very different customer experience and probably not be as completely satisfied with the Volt as they would if they were plugging it in each and every night and using it exactly they was it was intended, recognizing that electricity was meant to be used as its primary fuel, not the small gas engine on board that was intended to be its range extender.
Do you think you will produce a small initial supply just for people to learn about it and then ramp it up?
I think more specifically what we will do is launch it geographically. So we’ll start in a particular geographic area. We’ll maybe pick two or three geographic areas and start there. We’ll make sure we understand everything about launching the vehicle and understand how customers are using it and what their driving experience is, and then quickly ramp up other geographic in the US and around the world.
Will you be soliciting feedback from those initial buyers?
Absolutely. Those are people that will be purchasing the vehicle but we are going to try to establish a very close relationship with those people. People that are genuinely interested in the Volt for its technology and the fact that it doesn’t use petroleum as its primary fuel and have a strong interest in helping us make that particular type of propulsion huge success. Like you Lyle. That’s how we pretty much see this thing going. We have a little more work to do before we announce exactly how we’re going to do it, but we’ve pretty much settled out on the fact that were not going to try to go everywhere all at once. That probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, we are probably better served by being a bit more measured than we would be in a typical vehicle launch.
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