Chevy Volt: The Jolt GM Needs?

Launching a new vehicle while the American auto industry is asking Congress for a $25 billion bailout might seem like illogical timing, but for General Motors and the people behind Chevy Volt, it’s essential. With their backs against the wall, GM is rolling out their much-anticipated first plug-in electric vehicle -- and focusing their marketing efforts on the gay community.

BY Greg Fieser

November 21 2008 12:00 AM ET

 Chevy Volt x100 (publicity) | Advocate.com

Peterson
admits that perceptions have to change fast in order
for GM to remain viable. That’s why they have
been “wide open” about the Volt and its
ongoing development.  

As for what lies
ahead for the U.S. auto industry, many of the folks at
GM try to avoid the question, or have been trained to voice
the corporate rhetoric that their future, with the
help of the government, can be bright and that
products such as the Volt are going to be America’s
saving grace. Some seem less convinced. For now, GM is
hoping the Chevy Volt will be a “game
changer” and a goodwill gesture that will
indicate to the buying public that GM is serious about
the changing needs of the automotive consumer and is
prepared to be a leader in fuel-efficient,
environmentally responsible products.

GM CEO Rick
Wagoner said at the Senate hearings about the requested $25
billion bailout that the money would be used to further
develop products that consumers want -- such as
the Volt -- as well as pay off debts to suppliers
and take care of employee retirement and heath care
obligations. All the CEOs from the big-three automakers
admitted in the Senate hearings that they did indulge
out-of-control American spending and irresponsible
lending. They took advantage of the good times and
didn’t plan for or envision a time less buoyant.
Those weighing in on the proceedings aren’t so
sure that companies who couldn’t make a profit in
good times will turn their luck around now that their backs
are against the wall.

With seven
different brands and 56 models, some say that the largest
auto manufacturer in America has gotten too big. Many
vehicles overlap one another in price, function, and
target audience. GM has dumped billions of dollars
into several different types of alternative propulsion
technologies such as electric, gas-electric hybrids,
cellulose, and bio fuels, all in the hopes of being at
the forefront when one of them really takes off.

“We’re kind of hedging our bets on the next
big thing,” says Peterson, so that when one or
more gets the green light from government or the public,
“we’re ready.”

-- The Chevy
Volt will be on display at the Los Angeles Auto
Show, which opens Friday, November 21. For more
information visit
www.LAAutoShow.com.

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