Apr 29

GM’s Rob Peterson discusses the Volt team’s strategic relationship building

 

General Motors Spokesman Rob Peterson has been on the Chevrolet Volt team since before the concept car was shown in 2007.

At last week’s EDTA conference he gave a talk at a breakout session titled, “To Market We Go: Building Successful Launch and Marketing Strategies.”

Addressing industry peers, he opened up GM’s strategic playbook, and outlined its key four-point approach. Point number one, which we’ll focus on here, he called “Relationships.”


Getting people behind the wheel in test drives is part of GM’s marketing strategy as well.

Before he got into his core message however, Peterson noted that now the Volt is in production, some roles have changed. Last year, instead of him taking center stage, it would have been the Volt’s Vehicle Line Director, Tony Posawatz who was now seated in the audience. This year marked the turning of a page in the Volt story.

“The fact that I am here and Tony is now over there is a signal that things have changed a little bit in the marketing of electric vehicles,” Peterson said, “Because today we’re not talking about the development of electric vehicles, we’re talking about marketing electric vehicles.”

This should send “a big signal” to enthusiasts, suppliers, industry and government stakeholders and consumers, he said, because Chevrolet now has a transportation solution called the Volt.

“It is here today and we’re putting them in driveways as we speak,” he said.


Rob Peterson outlined what GM is doing now to market the Volt.

Peterson conceded GM is not the same company it was when the Volt was conceived. Four years of challenges and a financial crisis was a tough experience.

“We had to handle it with some humility and swallow our pride a little bit,” he said. “And that wasn’t just an overnight occurrence back in 2007. Candidly speaking, when we revealed the Chevrolet Volt, I don’t think many of you in here or many of the people who witnessed us launching it felt that we were committed to bringing electric vehicles to market.”

He said in those early times, GM recognized it was at a low point but with opportunity to rebound, so it endorsed a shift toward greater openness.

“Our communications strategy beginning in 2007 was one that was very simple,” Peterson said, “For a company that was short on credibility and long on engineering talent, we were going to be as transparent as possible and that’s when the journey for the Volt truly began.”

Even though it could be uncomfortable for some traditionalists, Peterson said, the new policy was necessary.


Another of several Volts being run around Washington on brief test drives.

“Now that is a challenging strategy for the people like Tony Posawatz and the development team to have a communications person stand by their side; want to showcase the wins and sometimes the stumbles along the way,” he said, “But it was needed in order for us to actually succeed. Because our transparency is what built the credibility along the journey the past five years.”

Relationships

“We started to reach out to the utility companies through EPRI back in 2007. It was a logical relationship to have. We both shared the same customers. Our customers who’ll be buying our vehicles will also buy their power from them,” Peterson said, “It has worked for us to be integrated with them, to have a connection to them along the way – the same with the Edison Electric Institute.”

Implicit in Peterson’s message was that General Motors wanted to establish a proper foundation for the time ahead, and begin new partnerships between formerly unrelated industries.

“We needed to make sure what we were doing was in lockstep with the strategies of these two organizations,” Peterson said.


Rob Peterson was hired to the Volt Team in 2006. He has an easy-going manner which helps him share his considerable knowledge and enthusiasm for the car.

A second focus for relationship building, he said, was toward electric vehicle advocates.

“No question about it, the enthusiasts, Chelsea Sexton, Felix Kramer, GM-Volt.com Web site – these were the embers that stirred in the public’s eyes and were out there waiting to be ignited. We needed to reach out to them and grace them. Many of these people we had shunned in past years,” he said, “We needed to extend a hand and bring them back in and fan their passionate flames. And you see right now the vehicles that we’re selling. Many of these enthusiast groups are the ones that are actually knocking on the dealership doors in the first part.”

Another direction for GM’s relationship building effort included reaching out to the advanced-tech transportation industry as a whole.

“A final element of the relationships was industry. We needed to be very active in the EDTA,” Peterson said, “Tony Posawatz who’s co-chair of the EDTA has done a fantastic job from our perspective of making sure that the voice of electric vehicles are heard. Not only in this forum, but in other forums.”


GM intends to bring these cars mainstream as swiftly as it can.

In taking the approach it is, Peterson said, GM is also elevating the entire electric vehicle movement.

“We’re representing the industry as a whole and not just the Chevrolet Volt. We’re true believers that a high tide raises all boats,” Peterson said, “There’s nothing here that we can do that benefits just the Volt. When Volt succeeds many other electric vehicles succeed along with it.”

Peterson’s sincerely delivered message indicated GM is intent on not repeating past mistakes. On the contrary, it is working in today’s cultural, economic and political environment to show it has and will do what it takes.

“Having solid relationships with organizations like EDTA, EPRI, EEI will go a long way. This need for relationships – something that we started on this journey – is definitely not going to go away either,” he said, “The bond of the relationships is going to have to actually be stronger as we move forward and we try to move the EV market segment from a burgeoning one to mainstream.”

Peterson went on to outline three more key Volt marketing strategies, but we’ll have to save those for another day.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 29th, 2011 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 62


  1. 1
    Mark Z

    +4

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Mark Z
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (6:48 am)

    Through SPX, GM has established a continuing relationship with the electric companies. Getting the Volt customer connected to a “free” 240 volt charge station and a second meter installation takes a lot of work. While some can tackle the task alone, I found it much easier with the capable electricians that SPX found for our area. Calls that I made to the city planning department and SCE (Edison) did not give clear direction. It required an excellent electrician company to work diligently with the city and SCE to make it successful.

    With drywall and stucco finally installed, things are looking a bit more normal at home. The 11 cent rate to charge the Volt that does not affect the residential five tier rate structure will make paying the monthly power bill much easier.


  2. 2
    kdawg

    +2

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    kdawg
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (8:19 am)

    Sounds like the CliffsNotes for ROTEC (Revenge of the Electric Car).

    What a great story.


  3. 3
    kdawg

    +5

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    kdawg
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (8:27 am)

    ““No question about it, the enthusiasts, Chelsea Sexton, Felix Kramer, GM-Volt.com Web Site – these were the embers that stirred in the public’s eyes and were out there waiting to be ignited.”

    Good job everyone


  4. 4
    Tim Hart

    +2

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Tim Hart
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (9:20 am)

    Thanks Jeff for the input that continues to inspire! The whole Volt story has been one of the bright lights in a time of continuing stress and catastrophe. It is so wonderful to consider the new era of societal change that the Volt is helping to accomplish.


  5. 5
    Jason M. Hendler

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Jason M. Hendler
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (9:22 am)

    Another excellent article, and you end with a teaser, no less …

    Not sure about the over use of the word relationship (with the exception of EV advocates). GM forged strategic partnerships with other stakeholders – no need to turn it into a love-in.

    As for transparency, while it did help re-assure the skepticle EV advocates that GM was sincere, I believe it to be a good policy in general.

    1) GM’s strategies drew tremendous criticism – most notably from Toyota’s former CEO Katsuaki Watanabe. Some criticism was reasonable, and those suggestions that were practical to incorporate were used, while other reasonable critcisms planned for the future. Most criticism was unreasonable, but lead other automakers down less viable paths, while some automakers sat paralyzed, allowing their suppliers to take the lead for them.

    2) Transparency prevents subversion from occurring, because there are far too many prying eyes for any serreptitious activities to succeed. It holds everyone to their respective commitments, lest they incur shame and blame.

    I suspect that GM may go quiet on future vehicle projects, which causes me to lament the prospects for their fuel cell vehicle program. There are many “progressive” factions who wish to subvert fuel cell technologies (for no good reason), but the Volt is the evidence to their inevitable success – no one wants to sit around for several hours while their vehicle recharges, nor to they want to stop every few hours to do so. This only means that Europe and Asia will move ahead on fuel cell technology, as Hyundai / Kia looks to be the most likely champion to emerge in that space.


  6. 6
    Schmeltz

    +7

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Schmeltz
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (9:42 am)

    Really glad he made a shout out to GM-Volt.com. Lyle’s dedication is one of the things that made this car the suuccess that it is. That was classy IMO.


  7. 7
    Dave K.

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Dave K.
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (9:59 am)

    SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP): Chevron profit rises 36 percent on high oil prices

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Chevron-profit-rises-36-apf-3877587240.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=4&asset=&ccode=

    NoPlugNoSale


  8. 8
    demetrius

    +7

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    demetrius
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (10:28 am)

    Excellent article Jeff – you had big shoes to fill when Lyle moved on to focus on Brain Surgery… You have filled his shoes by producing excellent journalism that surpasses everything else that we get on the web about EV’s.

    GM did a brave thing letting us into the volt development – this has never happened before and may never happen again.

    I can’t wait to see the Revenge of the Electric Car… I want to cheer GM as much as I jeered them during Who Killed the Elevtric Car…


  9. 9
    DonC

    +5

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    DonC
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (11:11 am)

    One interesting message here is that GM thinks they’re marketing the Volt. Well they’re not. Other than providing a blank slate upon which anyone can project their own reasons, the tagline “More Car Than Electric” fills no role. Nada. Zip. It’s completely useless. I was reminded of this last week when someone criticizing the Volt because it didn’t make sense was told that people don’t buy cars based on a strict dollars and cents calculation. His response? Well “that’s how GM is selling the Volt!” Obviously that’s not how GM is selling the Volt but it does point out that even at this late date there is no real marketing campaign and what exists is devoid of a message. Allowing people to define your product for you is NOT a good strategy.

    As an aside, I never understood where the tagline “More Car Than Electric” came from, but I think I know now — focus groups. Whenever I give someone a test drive the first thing they say is “it drives just like a normal car”. (Second most frequent is “this is quiet!”) OK. That’s the first impression. But that’s just a property of the car. it’s not going to cause anyone to want to buy the thing. So I still give the “More Car Than Electric” tagline a nomination for “Worst Ad Ever”.

    What’s interesting is that Rob Peterson may have stumbled on a core of an effective campaign with his remark that “Chevrolet now has a transportation solution called the Volt.” Now THAT could work. It’s broad enough to cover all the positives the Volt offers. You could have a few testimonials from people remarking about why they bought a Volt — national security, economic prosperity, health benefits like preventing children from getting asthma, saving on gas, and of course the environment. They should spend some time running with that and see what they can come up with. Has to be more effective than what they have now, which is nothing.


  10. 10
    Jeff Cobb

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Jeff Cobb
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (11:21 am)

    DonC,

    RE: “Chevrolet now has a transportation solution called the Volt.”

    Actually that was my paraphrase of a couple sentences from Rob. His next statement is the quote (in quote marks).


  11. 11
    George S. Bower

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    George S. Bower
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (11:22 am)

    Jeff quote: “but we’ll have to save those for another day.”

    All in one day or one per day??

    Good article Jeff.

    Not to stray but what the heck is going on w/ Lyle. I never hear a peep but someone here must know.

    Anyone know what Lyle has been up to??


  12. 12
    Jeff Cobb

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Jeff Cobb
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (11:23 am)

    kdawg,
    Tim Hart,
    demetrius,

    Thanks everyone! :)


  13. 13
    Jeff Cobb

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Jeff Cobb
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (11:26 am)

    George S. Bower,

    We’ll see. I want to re-listen to the remainder and see if I can cull more out of it.

    Certainly I can, because he outlines the remaining three points of the four-point strategy, but I may intersperse the timing of these with other things.


  14. 14
    DonC

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    DonC
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (11:39 am)

    Jeff Cobb: Actually that was my paraphrase of a couple sentences from Rob. His next statement is the quote (in quote marks).

    OK Jeff, so YOU came up with the idea for the marketing campaign! Good job. (Actually your paraphrase is way better than his quotes).


  15. 15
    George S. Bower

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    George S. Bower
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (11:47 am)

    Jeff,

    Just an idea for an interesting article. In order to write it one would need some GM engineers that worked power train development for the Volt.

    The title of the article would be:

    The Fascinating “behind the scenes” story of the Development of the Voltec power train”

    I imagine the article might sound something like this:

    At the beginning of the Chevy Volt development program one single design for the Volt’s power train did not exist. There actually were 3 candidate transmission designs, all of which were based in some degree on the Saturn 2 mode transmission.

    Candidate 1 was a stripped 2 mode where only the housing was used. The transmission (or lack thereof) was a pure series hybrid configuration–ie a generator makes electricity and charges the battery and that was it’s only function.

    Candidate 2 was a tweak to the candidate 1 whereby a mechanical link was used to improve fuel consumption if candidate 1 pure series could not make the required fuel consumption.

    Candidate 3 was the existing Saturn 2 mode with minor changes to get EV mode to work at highway speeds up to (78??) MPH.

    These three designs battled it out among engineering for (2?) years. Purists wanted to stick w/ the pure series candidate 1. Others (principally the ME’s of the group favored candidate 2 or 3).

    Endless amounts of test data was acquired. Engineers battled back and forth trying to prove whichever concept they believed in was the right choice.

    etc, etc we know which candidate they ended up with. but the fun story would be in the details of how they got there.

    I suspect Rob Peterson or Tony know the details.


  16. 16
    DonC

    +6

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    DonC
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (11:48 am)

    One other mistake GM is making is ignoring how younger consumers approach products. Old consumers looked for brands. Brands don’t work well for younger consumers. Younger consumers want different things, and one of the big things they want is more involvement with their products. They want to know about the production of them and they even like input into their development.

    From the sentence “[e]ven though it could be uncomfortable for some traditionalists, Peterson said, the new policy was necessary” it’s clear that GM doesn’t understand this at all. Rather than looking at being transparent as an opportunity to connect with customers and to market the car, they’re looking at it as a PITA that they only had to do because of credibility problems. With the Volt released they can now go back to the outdated way of developing cars in secret and then unveiling them is some lame ad campaign, a process which empirically has been shown to not excite younger consumers at all.

    You’d think they would have learned from the Volt development that being more transparent sells more cars. They do want to sell more cars, don’t they?


  17. 17
    EVO

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    EVO
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (11:53 am)

    @ DonC

    The marketing is on the slide:

    #1: Fun to Drive (which includes max torque off the line, instant responsiveness, low and central center of gravity).
    #2. Comfortable (which includes simple operation)
    #3. Quiet (in full EV mode, especially)
    #4. Smooth (liquid in a Volt, no pauses or balking at all for shifting)

    Those are all instrinsic qualities of electric drive, baked right in. There is no substitute.

    To really understand any of those, you have to get in the vehicle and drive it for a while.

    That means that every dealer in the US should have several (one in each color, at least) always on stock ASAP. To keep those in your life on a daily basis you have to own or lease one. After you’ve driven with any amount of electric drive assist (all the way to full) for a few years, going back to a full gasser for a drive is a sad experience. It puzzles me why any vehicle maker would make any vehicle without at least some amount of electric drive to make up for some of the glaring performance and efficiency deficiencies of ICEs.

    Whoever gets a plug in to a local dealer in my area first is likely to get my order and money first. I am assuming that vehicle makers and their stockholders don’t hate money.

    I suspect that a high end, modern feeling interior, nothing to do with the drivetrain, and low prices is what will really win mainstream hearts and minds.


  18. 18
    Noel Park

    +2

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Noel Park
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (12:07 pm)

    DonC: Younger consumers want different things, and one of the big things they want is more involvement with their products. They want to know about the production of them and they even like input into their development.

    #16

    Well maybe if they have been able to deal with changing their product development strategy to a more transparent process, they will somehow find their way to doing the same with marketing. I think that we all did have some input into the development process via this platform.

    I liked the experience of ordering my Volt just the way I wanted it and tracking its progress via the internet. It was kind of a neat combination of the old days when we did custom order our cars and the new information technologies.

    I absolutely think that we will see the day when people order cars much the same way they buy books, etc., from Amazon today. I have used GM’s online car tracking system to locate and buy 2 trucks out of dealer inventory, and it has been a very satisfactory experience. In both case we negotiated the price via email and just did the final paperwork when we picked up the trucks at the dealerships. I think that all of this can easily evolve into exactly what you are suggesting.

    Volt 1756 SoCal


  19. 19
    Jackson

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Jackson
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (12:18 pm)

    IMO, the current understated campaign matches the present low availability. An ad campaign which causes a stampede to the showroom, with so few Volts actually available, will end up PO’ing a lot of folks. Most current ads show the plug being inserted; this represents a major revolution (even if presented subliminally); perhaps recalled at the gas pump with $4+ gas. Of course, you won’t save enough on gas at the initial Volt’s purchase price, but even this much exposure could get some people into showrooms for a test drive; which will be enough on it’s own to convince many who can pay the price. (Price reduction to broaden the intended audience is an issue for another day; hopefully not too far off).

    As the numbers of Volts increase, GM needs to become a lot less cagey in the media; and it is this phase which concerns me. GM hasn’t historically been known for intelligent ad campaigns (emphasizing the emotional component of car buying at the expense of all else — which would be a mistake for a car which requires so much of the cerebral to truly appreciate).


  20. 20
    kdawg

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    kdawg
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (12:24 pm)

    There’s a lot of varying reasons to love the Volt. GM will have to target each one during their marketing campaign. One broad brush stroke won’t cover all the bases. People are just too different.


  21. 21
    Jeff Cobb

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Jeff Cobb
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (12:31 pm)

    George S. Bower,

    This sounds like it could make a good story. It also would need to be broken out into a series, and take probably a lot of work to get it right.

    I will inquire further with Rob when I talk with him next.

    Thanks for the idea.


  22. 22
    EVO

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    EVO
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (12:38 pm)

    Jackson: for a car which requires so much of the cerebral to truly appreciate

    I respectfully disagree – fun to drive, comfortable, quiet and smooth are all superior and general performance characteristics that translate strongly into feelings and require little thought for mainstream buyers to appreciate. Perhaps you are describing some characteristics of first adopters or yourself, not the broader market?

    My own entry to the EV world was based on a desire for the feeling of performance – my only cerebral activity was identifying what vehicle would give me the most fun performance within my driving pattern for the best price, regardless of drivetrain type. Now I wonder why I was surprised when the answer was an electric.


  23. 23
    Jeff Cobb

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Jeff Cobb
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (12:47 pm)

    DonC: OK Jeff, so YOU came up with the idea for the marketing campaign! Good job. (Actually your paraphrase is way better than his quotes).

    Thanks. Does this mean I missed my calling as an advertising copywriter? ;)


  24. 24
    Jackson

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Jackson
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (12:48 pm)

    EVO: Perhaps you are describing some characteristics of first adopters or yourself, not the broader market?

    The broader market does not yet exist; nor will it later this year when Volts become more numerous. There will be a “broader market” later when Volts greatly increase in availability, and decrease significantly in cost. Then perhaps, GM can run their right-side-of-the-brain commercials.

    You cannot dismiss the revolutionary nature of the Volt based on past auto-buying precedence. I have stated in other places that electric drive will stand on it’s own, largely for the reasons you state; but the need for explanation of design philosophy will not go away as quickly as you seem to think. The implications are too great to gloss over with the warm fuzzies now. When the Volt is much more of a known quantity, I have no doubt that it can be promoted on a solely emotional basis.


  25. 25
    Schmeltz

    +2

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Schmeltz
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (12:55 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: Thanks. Does this mean I missed my calling as an advertising copywriter?

    I thought that very thing when I read that phrase, but then WHO would author this wonderful blog? You certainly would need to make the advertising career your moonlighting job! :)


  26. 26
    James

    +5

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    James
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (12:58 pm)

    Ad slogans for Volt ( to replace “It’s More Car Than Electric” :
    ___________________________________________________

    VOLT – CHEVROLET REINVENTS THE AUTOMOBILE

    THE VOLT – GAS OPTIONAL

    VOLT – GIVING AMERICA NEW FREEDOM

    VOLT – AMERICA’S NEW FREEDOM

    A WHOLE NEW KIND OF AUTOMOBILE

    POWERED BY AMERICAN ELECTRONS

    QUIET, CLEAN , REVOLUTIONARY

    or, VOLT= REVOLUTIONARY

    CHEVY VOLT – PLUG IN

    HORSE>HORSELESS CARRAIGE>GASOLINE AUTOMOBILE>VOLT

    THE ELECTRIC CAR THAT NEVER LEAVES YOU STRANDED

    copyright 2011 James Melvin

    Got any more ideas?

    RECHARGE! James

    P.S. – How about, “Volt – KISS ABDUL GOODBYE” , L :) L

    SEE THE USA IN A CHEVROLET – THAT GETS YOU TO WORK AND BACK GAS FREE!

    Note to GM: America is pissed off at high gasoline prices – and a lot of folks would like to feel they’re contributing to cleaner air. “It’s More Car Than Electric” just does not convey any message that is connecting with the American car buyer.

    Make any and all checks for my copyrighted slogans to me. Thanks.


  27. 27
    DonC

    +3

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    DonC
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (1:27 pm)

    James: P.S. – How about, “Volt – KISS ABDUL GOODBYE”

    Gets my vote!!!!!!!!


  28. 28
    LauraM

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    LauraM
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (2:13 pm)

    DonC: With the Volt released they can now go back to the outdated way of developing cars in secret and then unveiling them is some lame ad campaign, a process which empirically has been shown to not excite younger consumers at all.

    I think secrecy can be a great way to build up hype if it’s used correctly. Look at Apple. They won’t leak any details about the next Iphone or Ipad before the official announcement.


  29. 29
    kdawg

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    kdawg
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (2:18 pm)

    James,

    I like the idea of a “no compromise electric vehicle” or “best of both worlds” type of ad.


  30. 30
    LauraM

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    LauraM
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (2:59 pm)

    Testing 1, 2, 3…

    This is the Nissan LEAF race car. (I hope.)

    ?action=view&current=SAM_8515.jpg

    http://i1125.photobucket.com/albums/l587/LauraM30/SAM_8515.jpg?t=1304102720

    All right. Not working. If anyone wants to see my pictures of the New YOrk auto show, they’re on photobucket (my screen name there is LauraM30). I took a few too many of the classic mini cars, but the Camaro convertible is on the last page. (p.10)

    And, no, sorry, there are no pictures of me. I went alone, so…


  31. 31
    kdawg

    +2

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    kdawg
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (3:09 pm)

    James: HORSE>HORSELESS CARRAIGE>GASOLINE AUTOMOBILE>VOLT

    How about E-VOLT-LUTION!

    E-volt-lution.jpg


  32. 32
    kdawg

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    kdawg
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (3:22 pm)

    LauraM,

    Is this the photo you were trying to post?

    SAM_8515.jpg


  33. 33
    EVO

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    EVO
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (3:31 pm)

    Just in:

    http://www.mic.org/downloads/MIC_EVCityRidingRangeTestProcedure_Rev042811.pdf

    Based on motorcycles and the above you may now correctly say that you floored or cranked the throttle on your EV, even if what you did was twist, push or slide something rubbery that interacts with an ECM, without reference to pots, capacitors or potentiometers. This is a good day for all mainstream lunkheads and hooners.

    Now we get to see if SAE manages to get up to speed with this, as they are a day late and dollar short, as usual. Motorcycles leading the way yet again…

    http://motorsportsnewswire.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/the-motorcycle-industry-council-adopts-protocol-for-determining-real-world-range-of-electric-motorcycles-0429111/

    This prodedure makes sense for full EVs.


  34. 34
    Lyle

    +5

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Lyle
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (4:40 pm)

    George S. Bower:

    Not to stray but what the heck is going on w/ Lyle. I never hear a peep but someone here must know.

    Anyone know what Lyle has been up to??

    I’m here. I’m focusing on my family and building a new neurology department these days and continuing to love driving my Volt.


  35. 35
    EVO

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    EVO
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (5:56 pm)

    @ Jackson:

    Apparently, the Volt and some of the subtleties of its drivetrain details are already well enough embued in public conciousness that it’s the go to choice to understand more exotic vehicles, such as this bulldozer in this 15 month old review:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/automobiles/autoreviews/24DOZER.html

    Me, I’d call ‘em both sports freight trains, the Volt with rubber tires and the dozer with tracks. Who wouldn’t want either under the Christmas tree?

    The dozer is marketed for high power heavy work, high manueverability fine precision work and overall efficiency and lower operating costs. Sounds like a great type of drivetrain for a sports pickup truck.


  36. 36
    LauraM

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    LauraM
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (6:22 pm)

    kdawg: LauraM,
    Is this the photo you were trying to post?

    Yes. Thank you! Trying again with the Camaro convertible. This time with Internet explorer…

    SAM_8466.jpg?t=1304115322

    Edited to add: It works!


  37. 37
    kdawg

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    kdawg
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (6:23 pm)

    EVO,

    You’d think they would have used hydraulic motors instead of electric motors to drive the tracks, since they already have hydraulics for the cylinders to move the blade.


  38. 38
    EVO

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    EVO
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (6:44 pm)

    kdawg,

    “You’d think they would have used hydraulic motors instead of electric motors to drive the tracks, since they already have hydraulics for the cylinders to move the blade.”

    Or for that matter hydraulic regen braking, rather than the flywheel system employed. I guess they wanted a quieter system and for the operator to be reminded of F1 KERS racing while working. I think they’ll get to electric regen braking at some point.

    I’ve heard raging, unresolved debates over hydraulic v. electric winches, so I’m not going to jump into that fray.


  39. 39
    EVO

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    EVO
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (8:03 pm)

    @ kdawg

    So with the nismo, they just rotate the motor(s) like tires from front to rear? Nice 5 minute job to make FWD into RWD if you set up simple compact near wheel gears, since algorithms can do all the torque vectoring you want. Kind of makes you wonder at the foot dragging games vehicle makers have been playing at the last 40 years.

    It’ll be fun in 25 years when someone hacks an old beater Leaf and runs in the Lemons at top speed backwards, with all the torque it had on its first day brand new.


  40. 40
    Ted in Fort Myers

    +4

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Ted in Fort Myers
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (8:16 pm)

    My approach is its absolutely silent and cost me $1.40 to drive 40 miles. How much does it cost you to drive 40 miles and when they begin to work the figures and it comes out more or less $8.00 the light goes on. Then the questions start.

    Take Care, TED
    Volt #1506


  41. 41
    jeffhre

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    jeffhre
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (9:21 pm)

    DonC: One interesting message here is that GM thinks they’re marketing the Volt. Well they’re not. Other than providing a blank slate upon which anyone can project their own reasons, the tagline “More Car Than Electric” fills no role. Nada. Zip. It’s completely useless.

    But that is marketing. It fills the air, err, clears the way for selling and sales to occur.


  42. 42
    WVhybrid

    +2

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    WVhybrid
     Says

     

    Apr 29th, 2011 (10:17 pm)

    I just saw the latest Chevy ad. It emphasized the low cost of charging. It’s not the first thing that comes to my mind when driving my car. I might think of the extremely cool ride, or the silence, or the lack of imported gas use, or all the great gadgets. I guess I just don’t think like the marketers think. But then, I rushed out and bought a Volt long before Chevy tried to sell me one.

    On the other hand, earlier this week I gave a politician (he’s a lawyer who also does work for a company I helped start) a ride in my Volt, and today he told me he wanted to buy one. Other members of his party have not been supportive of GM or the Volt, to say the least. Maybe I’ve sold a Volt this week for Chevy.


  43. 43
    DonC

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    DonC
     Says

     

    Apr 30th, 2011 (9:15 am)

    WVhybrid: Other members of his party have not been supportive of GM or the Volt, to say the least.

    There was a poll in the forums as to political leanings and there wasn’t a pronounced tilt. Just about the same percentage for “Republicans”, “Democrats”, “Left Leaning Independents”, “Right Leaning Independents”, and the “Don’t Bore Me”. Also I saw another poll yesterday which suggested much broader and much more politically diverse support for EREVs (unlimited range vehicles) than for BEVs, which were a decidedly ‘liberal” vehicle.

    So on some level it’s OK for Republicans to like the Volt. As James says, “Hello Volt, Goodbye Abdul”. What’s not to like?

    What’s interesting is that this is a good illustration of the power of advertising. There are plenty of good reasons for conservatives to support BEVs, but let Toyota (for the Prius) or Nissan (for the Leaf) run an ad campaign targeting the green crowd and, just as liberals reflexively start feeling all warm and fuzzy and conservatives reflexively get angry about the great global warming conspiracy. What’s funny is that if you asked all of these folks if advertising affected them they’d all say “no”. Right. The fact is that people can’t think for themselves.

    The GM bailout just adds a complicating layer though it’s hard to see how, in retrospect, anyone would think rescuing GM was anything but a great idea.


  44. 44
    Rob Peterson

    +10

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Rob Peterson
     Says

     

    Apr 30th, 2011 (10:50 am)

    All: thanks for the continued enthusiasm for the Volt.

    @Don – At this point the marketing launch of the Volt isn’t targeted at broad audiences, rather it’s focused on creating an unmatched ownership experience for initial buyers – from the Volt Advisors, dealer order process, charging installation to the vehicle – to organically grow awareness for the Volt. Personal experience and owner testimonials are unquestionably the most powerful marketing tools available. Aggressive marketing or advertising campaigns may create greater awareness and grow already lengthy waiting lists, but most likely at the cost of frustrating potential customers who can’t get the vehicle they so desparately desire.

    Managing expecations (one of the other three focus areas discussed at EDTA) is the number one challenge facing the Volt and the EV movement. We have momentum and a great product, but missteps are magnified far more than our successes at this point. We remain convinced that slow and steady will win the race.

    Thanks
    Rob


  45. 45
    Eco_Turbo

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Eco_Turbo
     Says

     

    Apr 30th, 2011 (11:17 am)

    This means that profits from big SUV and Pickup sales in the coming years, may help bring affordable, practical and fun to drive EVs to market.


  46. 46
    LauraM

    +3

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    LauraM
     Says

     

    Apr 30th, 2011 (11:32 am)

    DonC: There was a poll in the forums as to political leanings and there wasn’t a pronounced tilt. Just about the same percentage for “Republicans”, “Democrats”, “Left Leaning Independents”, “Right Leaning Independents”, and the “Don’t Bore Me”. Also I saw another poll yesterday which suggested much broader and much more politically diverse support for EREVs (unlimited range vehicles) than for BEVs, which were a decidedly ‘liberal” vehicle.

    So on some level it’s OK for Republicans to like the Volt. As James says, “Hello Volt, Goodbye Abdul”. What’s not to like?

    There’s a huge difference between support from regular people who vote republican and actual republican politicians.


  47. 47
    Annonymous

    +2

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Annonymous
     Says

     

    Apr 30th, 2011 (12:00 pm)

    DonC,

    I’d prefer Hello Volt goodbye Sheiks… I’m sure there are millions of poor Abduls out there that could only dream of owning an oil well.


  48. 48
    Noel Park

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Noel Park
     Says

     

    Apr 30th, 2011 (12:41 pm)

    Rob Peterson: All: thanks for the continued enthusiasm for the Volt.

    #44

    Thanks to you for participating here. +1 It really gives me a feeling of validation about what we are trying to do. Which is, at least in my case, to try to do whatever little I can to help kickstart the Volt and make it a success. And to help insure all of the other future successes that will flow from same.

    Very best regards and congratulations on your brilliant engineering and development successes.


  49. 49
    Noel Park

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Noel Park
     Says

     

    Apr 30th, 2011 (12:42 pm)

    LauraM: There’s a huge difference between support from regular people who vote republican and actual republican politicians.

    #47

    Amen. +1


  50. 50
    Noel Park

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Noel Park
     Says

     

    Apr 30th, 2011 (12:47 pm)

    Annonymous: I’d prefer Hello Volt goodbye Sheiks… I’m sure there are millions of poor Abduls out there that could only dream of owning an oil well.

    #47

    Works for me. +1

    I could get even more specific and say “Hello Volt goodbye Saudi, Bahraini, Kuwati, et al, Royal Families. Not to mention the Ayatollahs across the Gulf. Some might even add Hugo Chavez, but I have to confess to kind of liking the feisty little bas__rd, LOL.


  51. 51
    Mikeinatl

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Mikeinatl
     Says

     

    Apr 30th, 2011 (12:47 pm)

    It took decades for GM to lose it’s credibility in the marketplace.
    They will not build back consumer’s confidence in a year or two or with just one car.

    I admire their long-view approach with Volt marketing.
    Getting a few thousand Volts on the streets in select markets, training service teams,
    debugging the car, and moving in measured steps is altogether appropriate in Volts case.

    Having very positive buzz from new owners and from raving fans like us who follow the Volt can have a powerful impact in todays hyper-networked society. Especially in an environment of huge price increases in fuel costs.

    Consumers may not trust GM fully at this point, but the endorsements of users and those who bestow automotive awards are powerful pursuaders.

    If I were GM marketing I would not display or advertise Volt without some mention or image of all the awards it has won. That is praise one cannot buy.

    GO VOLT!


  52. 52
    Mikeinatl

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Mikeinatl
     Says

     

    Apr 30th, 2011 (1:08 pm)

    And as for my ad phrase for today…

    VOLT Transportation Revolution

    Note the R is in a different color so that it also reads…

    VOLT. Transportation …evolution

    C2011 mikeinatl


  53. 53
    RB

    +2

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    RB
     Says

     

    Apr 30th, 2011 (9:05 pm)

    “No question about it, the enthusiasts, Chelsea Sexton, Felix Kramer, GM-Volt.com Web site – these were the embers that stirred in the public’s eyes and were out there waiting to be ignited. We needed to reach out to them and grace them. Many of these people we had shunned in past years,” he said, “We needed to extend a hand and bring them back in and fan their passionate flames. And you see right now the vehicles that we’re selling. Many of these enthusiast groups are the ones that are actually knocking on the dealership doors in the first part.”

    The above was true in 7 states, but the enthusiasts were ignored in the other 43, so their big talk to their relatives and neighbors gradually faded into embarrassment. Now here in NC the enthusiasts have moved on to other newer products. Some day Volt may be sold here, but whenever that is, it is going to be hard to get that spirit back. Or maybe gm is thinking that it really doesn’t matter one way or another.


  54. 54
    James

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    James
     Says

     

    Apr 30th, 2011 (9:44 pm)

    #31

    kdawg: How about E-VOLT-LUTION!

    One word > Perfect!

    +1.

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


  55. 55
    At_Liberty

    +2

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    At_Liberty
     Says

     

    May 1st, 2011 (12:28 am)

    As an aside, I never understood where the tagline “More Car Than Electric” came from, but I think I know now — focus groups. Whenever I give someone a test drive the first thing they say is “it drives just like a normal car”. (Second most frequent is “this is quiet!”) OK. That’s the first impression. But that’s just a property of the car. it’s not going to cause anyone to want to buy the thing. So I still give the “More Car Than Electric” tagline a nomination for “Worst Ad Ever”.

    Agreed… that line never rung anyone’s bell…

    How hard could this be? They are so “conservative” and cautious in their ads… too cautious.

    Just off the top of my head: Remember that PSA in the 70s with the Indian looking at all the litter and pollution? He gets a tear in his eye. Well, have an Indian looking at a smoggy basin or valley, with a tear in his eye… Then he wipes it away, looks at his Volt, gets in it, smiles, and then drives away… This stuff isn’t hard. It writes itself.


  56. 56
    At_Liberty

    +1

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    At_Liberty
     Says

     

    May 1st, 2011 (12:46 am)

    Managing expecations (one of the other three focus areas discussed at EDTA) is the number one challenge facing the Volt and the EV movement. We have momentum and a great product, but missteps are magnified far more than our successes at this point. We remain convinced that slow and steady will win the race.

    Thanks
    Rob

    Didn’t see your comment, Rob.

    Godspeed. Slow and steady sure, but here’s hoping you got a tail wind, too.
    Electric Vehicles are like electric lighting to baseball making night games possible… a revolution.


  57. 57
    Dan Petit

    +2

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Dan Petit
     Says

     

    May 1st, 2011 (9:06 am)

    There are two entirely separate issues here.
    While you have NewGM developing this incredible technology, and, having the drive to do what it can to connect with the customer at the product-production level in terms of marketing, what is clearly undoing much of that new energy are the relationships that fail to materialize at the sales point all too frequently. The ball is being dropped at the dealership level, but not by the sales reps.

    While the sales reps do everything possible to attempt to connect with the customer, there are still these distance-generating attributes at the purchase-point One of these attributes is the price game played by not disclosing up front the cost of the extended warranty. I still to this day do not have a cost for the extended warranty. I am expecting that some crafty plan will evolve that has some sort of lesser warranty at a lesser price that is not “bumper to bumper”.
    (Yes, I can excuse the other game of “We’re going to have a Volt lottery” (for your chance to buy it).)

    When it came to the final decision making point for me back in October when, (in deciding whether or not to liquidate some assets), I asked one guy in the finance and insurance department what was the cost of the extended warranty. He said “I sold a warranty on a German import for $6,000″. Excuse me, but what kind of bs game is that?
    Other attitudes reminded me of a “take it or leave it” position, (ahem) not that I was very interested to offer less, I just think it a really good idea to tell someone up front how much a total bill would be where everything that ***could be known*** is expressed up front.

    It is not NewGM that needs to change more so, the issues regard how the customer is treated with direct statements at the sales point. It is disrespectful to deliberately and repeatedly not answer direct questions by hedging. I still do not have the price of the Volt with extended warranty to this day, more than a year after that test drive in March of 2010.

    BTW, when I originally asked the guy at the out-of-town large dealership (that I mentioned here a few days ago) if he thought it would be worth looking into the possibility to have me help somehow with local Volt marketing/connecting with all the technical people I know (~900), (the same guy who was *not* interested in driving the new Volt that was fifty feet away “..only pick-ups”.), he had also said, “We have a big agency that does all our promotions for us”.

    His huge and beautiful dealership had been totally empty of customers the two days before, and was totally empty of customers the last time I visited with this last question.

    I was thinking at that moment, “Sir, that agency does not look like it is working whatsoever. It is pretty spooky around here”. But I thought such advice would not have done him any good. It was certainly time *to leave*.

    NewGM is going a terrific job. It is the marketing approach at the local levels that need improvements.


  58. 58
    CorvetteGuy

    +6

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    CorvetteGuy
     Says

     

    May 1st, 2011 (12:48 pm)

    The Thought for the Day:

    slogan56.jpg


  59. 59
    DonC

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    DonC
     Says

     

    May 1st, 2011 (2:37 pm)

    Rob Peterson: At this point the marketing launch of the Volt isn’t targeted at broad audiences, rather it’s focused on creating an unmatched ownership experience for initial buyers – from the Volt Advisors, dealer order process, charging installation to the vehicle – to organically grow awareness for the Volt. Personal experience and owner testimonials are unquestionably the most powerful marketing tools available. Aggressive marketing or advertising campaigns may create greater awareness and grow already lengthy waiting lists, but most likely at the cost of frustrating potential customers who can’t get the vehicle they so desparately desire.

    No issue with this approach at all, but my point would be that IF you’re spending the time and money to create an ad campaign THEN you might as well run an effective ad, as opposed to the ineffective “More Car Than Electric” one. Given that the Volt is supported by the same group which came up with the “Getting Up” ad, which has to be one of the best single ads ever done, it shouldn’t be too much to expect a better effort.

    As to what that ad might be, you have the “word cloud”. “Fun to Drive” may be too generic, but the smooth and quiet drive delivered by the Volt is a clear differentiator. The Volt is substantially superior to what you can get spending $15K – $20K more, and that’s before the rebates. This just can’t be that hard.

    As for the Volt Advisors, check out my next post to Dan Petit.


  60. 60
    DonC

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    DonC
     Says

     

    May 1st, 2011 (2:51 pm)

    Dan Petit: While the sales reps do everything possible to attempt to connect with the customer, there are still these distance-generating attributes at the purchase-point One of these attributes is the price game played by not disclosing up front the cost of the extended warranty.

    There is an easy Rx for both these problems. First, when shopping for you Volt, use the Volt Advisor Group. While they were originally presented as a support for Volt customers, they have evolved into the best aid for Volt buyers you can find. They have a total picture of where all the Volts are and what dealers have open allocations. Call them up and tell them what your’re looking for and where you’re looking. I guarantee they’ll find you a car you’ll be happy with. Not sure if this is because they’re screening dealers or because dealers don’t want to tell GM that they’re selling above MSRP, but the car will be priced at MSRP and will come sans the goofball shenanigans we all know and loathe. At the moment the Volt Advisors are the absolute best way to buy a Volt. A best kept secret that deserves not to be a secret. (My own advisor has been marginal but generally the range has been excellent to very good).

    As for the extended warranty, just check out the Forum here. There is a entire thread that deals with the pricing of GMPP, including details of the best current offers. Just look up what you want and then tell your dealer what your pricing is. If they match or beat it great. If they don’t then buy it from the internet dealer. It’s the same GM product either way.


  61. 61
    Mark Z

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Mark Z
     Says

     

    May 1st, 2011 (10:46 pm)

    There is a new Chevy ad campaign on television in Southern California showing all the high MPG numbers on the screen with each model. The Volt appears with a header showing 35 mile electric range. The extra text below the Volt shows additional range, but it’s too much text to read in a couple of seconds.

    GM needs to ask their Chevy dealers if that ad creates the impression with the customers that the Volt can only go 35 miles. Did the customers read about the additional range?


  62. 62
    Darius

     

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    Darius
     Says

     

    May 2nd, 2011 (5:39 am)

    LauraM,

    [IMGhttp://i1125.photobucket.com/albums/l587/LauraM30/SAM_8581.jpg[/IMG][/img]
    That’s cutest one.