The Chevy Volt is here, and hundreds of Americans are beginning to buy and drive them. We’ve watched the car develop from a concept over the past fours years. Now that the car is actually out among us it is important to understand what it means to GM and the company’s future
Mark Reuss is GM’s President of North American, a high ranking executive position that oversees all four brands from sales, marketing and development standpoints. Gary Witzenburg is a reporter who had the chance to interview him about the Volt and its importance.
Reuss admitted the Volt is “very important in the market and to our customers,” but cautions “it’s not the only thing that’s important.” Reuss says customers ask not what happened yesterday but instead “What have you done for me today?” He explains the automotive industry is a “long-lead business” and that things can quickly “flip and turn bad.” GM must carefully try to predict where things are going to be years from now and not make the mistakes of the past.
He says the Volt represents “the soul of the company” meaning vehicles that have “high desirability, technical leadership, (and) breakthrough technology.”
Reuss feels the awards the Volt has achieved are warranted. “People can see and taste success with something like the Volt, which no one else has, that addresses a whole different set of customer needs,” he said.
Reuss explained how GM is looking at the downstream future of the Volt both from a vehicle as well as technology perspective. He said of Voltec propulsion, GM plans to “take that technology and get the maximum out of it.” To achieve that “we can begin to take a lot more mass and money out of it and create the next hyper-efficient Voltec drivetrain,” he said. As mass is removed from the car, “the mass of the battery pack and what you’re asking it to do become less.”
Through incremental improvements of the current configuration, “you get efficiencies out of both the car and the battery without asking for a complete breakthrough in battery technology,” he said.
He appears to suggest the company hasn’t firmly decided exactly what the next Voltec vehicle will be after the volt. “We want to take this technology and do other things with it,” he said. “So we’re looking at how and where to do that.”
Reuss was asked why GM is being so slow in ramping up Volt production, considering how much demand there is. “We’re building it at a very low rate to begin with…on purpose,” he said. “When you do something like this that’s breakthrough, quality is extremely important,” he added. “We do not want to risk screwing it up.”
“Lithium-ion is not something to be taken lightly when you bring it to production,” said Reuss. “We want the production process and the stability of that to be perfect, and we are going to be perfect with it.”
“Chasing volume would be irresponsible,” he added.
This entry was posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2011 at 7:17 am and is filed under Engineering, Next Generation, Production. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.