Chevy Volt unveiled as new standard-bearer
Here's a good article I came across eariler today, finally have a chance to post it.
General Motors' long journey through bankruptcy protection, restructuring and relaunch brought the president of its Canadian division to Vancouver Wednesday to unveil the Chevrolet Volt as a standard-bearer for the new company.
"The Volt provides the symbol for what General Motors is all about," GM Canada president Kevin Williams said in an interview.
In Williams' words, it "demonstrates Chevrolet's ability to lead in the space of automobiles and the electrification of automobiles," though the Volt will see a relatively modest launch in 2011, with consumers only able to drive the model off Canadian car lots late in the year.
The company has said it expects to make 10,000 of the electric cars for its first model year (compared with total North American production of about four million vehicles this year), though Williams said GM's factory has the flexibility to increase that number if there is more demand.
The company has the capacity to build some 45,000 of the vehicles a year, but Williams said again that the number can be increased based on demand.
And Williams characterized Metro Vancouver as a critical market for Volt's launch having an urban constituency that GM is trying to win back.
The company has indicated it will roll out the Volt in limited markets, including Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto, Ottawa Gatineau and Montreal.
Williams brought a Volt along for a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade, which was sponsored by BC Hydro.
The GM president and BC Hydro will cooperate "to help place" 15 of the vehicles into the fleets of B.C. companies and organizations to help promote consumer adoption of plug-in cars.
And with an adoption rate of hybrid automobiles that is 2.5 times higher than other provinces, BC Hydro is betting B.C. will be one of GM's best markets for the vehicle.
And in a news release, BC Hydro's Bev Van Ruyven, deputy CEO, said the utility has worked on developing standards for vehicle-charging infrastructure and cooperated with Natural Resources Canada on developing national guidelines.
Behind the Volt, however, Williams said GM is working on showing consumers a line of cars the company hopes will capture their attention, (and wallets).
"A lot of Canadians don't have us on their shopping lists," Williams said, having walked away from GM products years ago.
GM has a bit of catch-up to do with its chief North American rival, Ford, which restructured its company with a painful halving of its employee base and a refocus on technologically advanced, fuel-efficient vehicles.
The economy compact Fiesta was the car Ford put front and centre in Vancouver during the Vancouver International Auto Show in March.
For GM, while the Volt is symbolic, the new Chevrolet Cruze compact, subject of an intensive marketing campaign, is perhaps a more important model for the company on the production side, particularly for Metro Vancouver.
Williams said about half the buyers in Vancouver's market buy in the compact segment, and he is keen to convince anyone he talks to to test the Cruze against any other vehicle in that category.