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GM readies Volt unveiling to shift focus from crisis

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DETROIT, July 7 (Reuters) - General Motors Corp is rushing to finish the production version of its Chevy Volt and plans to unveil a showroom-ready model of the heavily touted electric car in September, people familiar with the project say.

Battered by a deepening slump in sales and concerns about whether it can ride out the downturn, GMis counting on the Volt to break its costly association with gas-guzzling vehicles at a time when truck sales are tumbling and gas prices are near record levels.

GM is likely to complete the production version of the Volt by early August and plans to show it off in September, just when the embattled automaker celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding, people familiar with the plans said.

A GM spokesman declined to comment on the timeline for its next announcements on the Volt, which will include naming a supplier for the vehicle's lithium-ion battery pack, the single most expensive element of the vehicle and the component seen as critical to its success.

"Everyone is waiting for the next steps," Rob Peterson, spokesman for GM's electric vehicle program, told Reuters. GM designers and engineers are "getting very close" to a production-ready version of the Volt, he said.

GM showed off a concept version of the Volt in January 2007 but has retooled the look of the vehicle significantly since then, in part in order to improve its aerodynamics, representatives of the automaker have said.

GM has already shown a near-production version of the Volt to a Los Angeles-area focus group of consumers as it pushes toward production of the vehicle by late 2010 under a development plan the GM board approved in June.

By unveiling the final version of the Volt at a centennial observation in September, GM will be looking to shift the focus for investors and consumers from its current sales slump toward the more fuel-efficient vehicles it has in development.

The automaker, which saw its stock hit a 54-year low last week, is expected to use the circuit of major auto shows that begins with Paris in October to unveil a series of upcoming vehicles that will underscore its effort to move away from a reliance on light trucks.

Those include the production version of the Chevy Beat, a replacement for the Aveo hatchback, and a replacement for the Chevy Cobalt, a small sedan.

VOLT: READY FOR ITS HOLLYWOOD CLOSE-UP

In a further bid to create buzz, the Volt is one of several GM cars set to make an appearance in the action movie "Transformers 2," scheduled for release next summer, a person familiar with the matter said.

GM was heavily involved in the production of the first Michael Bay-directed "Transformers" film, released last summer, and provided a concept version of its 2009 Camaro for a central turn in the movie.

GM is designing the Volt to run for 40 miles (64 km) on a lithium-ion battery pack that can be recharged at a standard electric outlet. The Volt will also capture energy from braking, like a traditional hybrid, and feature an on-board engine that will be used to send power to the battery on longer trips.

GM is racing Toyota Motor Corp to bring the first plug-in car to the marketplace and has already featured the Volt in its advertising, part of a bid to improve the public image of the fuel efficiency of its car line-up.

Just as the Detroit-based automakers once rolled out limited-edition performance cars to create a buzz around their brands, the Volt has emerged as a kind of environmentally friendly "halo car" that GM hopes will have as much impact as the Prius hybrid has had for Toyota.

Two suppliers have been in the running to provide lithium-ion batteries for the Volt: A unit of Korea's LG Chem said last month that it was ready to supply batteries for the Volt, and German auto parts supplier Continental AG, adapting battery technology used by privately held A123 Systems, is also competing for the Volt battery contract.

The Volt marks one of the first attempts to adapt lithium-ion batteries, widely used in consumer electronics, for a car, although Toyota and others are pressing ahead with their own work on the same technology.

GM celebrates its centennial on Sept. 16, the anniversary of its founding by Billy Durant. It kicked off a series of events last year to mark the date, but those have been overshadowed by concerns about its performance and whether it has sufficient cash to ride out the downturn in U.S. sales.

GM's U.S. sales are off 15 percent this year, and analysts expect the automaker to raise additional capital to shore up liquidity as it looks to turn around its U.S. operations.

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Sounds liek a great idea, it'll be the Camaro all over again. <_<

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thats my rick wagonner... always under promise and over deliver...

its good to shock investors, it'll be hard to do, effectively but as it hits the news, people should be highly impressed, the camaro will be out soon too...

the faster they can create additional revenue, the faster they can get people thinking they need loans... and the less they need loans the easier credit will be and a snowball effect occurs in a possitive way...

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thats my rick wagonner... always under promise and over deliver...

its good to shock investors, it'll be hard to do, effectively but as it hits the news, people should be highly impressed, the camaro will be out soon too...

the faster they can create additional revenue, the faster they can get people thinking they need loans... and the less they need loans the easier credit will be and a snowball effect occurs in a possitive way...

"thats my rick wagonner"- Yes, that guy does do that.

It's Rick Wagoner [single 'N'] that everyone rightfully takes to task.

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Yep, go Ricky...maybe in 2035 we'll finally get to see the Cobalt replacement in our showrooms, next to the Saturn and Saab part of the floor because they will be crammed togethger and everything else killed (Cadillac will one again become FWD, so it's as good as dead)...Saab and Saturn are t3h FUTRE@1!

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Amazing the sarcasim I read on the threads about GM and then to read the sections on who owns what and see how many people have wasted their dollars on the Prius crap when it has been proven that you can save more money on an econobox gas car plus gas price even in todays dollars of $5 a gallon over the crazy prices they charge for the prius. Everyone seems to forget about the car payment, higher insurance cost etc. So many people talk about american and owning american and yet the true colors come out in showing they own anything but American.

GM will survive, some of the current brands do need to die, I would expect at least 2 more name plates to disappear. As an owner of a H2 I would hate to see Hummer disappear, but they could easily merge it into the GMC family as a section to compete against Jeep. Also Pontiac can also Die in name only and move the product into the Buick or GMC family. Gm could and should survive on Chevy, Entry level, GMC or Buick Mid luxury Level and performance and Cadillac as the top level Luxury performer. No I have not forgotten about Saturn, but then Saturn is the Asian import Fighter, it can survive on it's own. If the numbers do drop and seems to not do well, then fold them into Chevy.

Chevy/Saturn = Entry level and basic autos

GMC/Buick = Mid Level / Performance

Cadillac = Luxury

This could and would work well for GM.

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Yep, go Ricky...maybe in 2035 we'll finally get to see the Cobalt replacement in our showrooms, next to the Saturn and Saab part of the floor because they will be crammed togethger and everything else killed (Cadillac will one again become FWD, so it's as good as dead)...Saab and Saturn are t3h FUTRE@1!

:rolleyes:

End of '09 soon enough for ya?

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:rolleyes:

End of '09 soon enough for ya?

'Biz, is that your best-guess or is this fact? thanks.

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'Biz, is that your best-guess or is this fact? thanks.

They've only announced this for like six months.

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'Biz, is that your best-guess or is this fact? thanks.

There are 2 small cars coming next year

1) the 1.4 beastie in the 2nd quarter

2) the Cobalt replacement in the final quarter.

As I have been saying for a long time, Lutz has been a very busy man for the past few years. However, he can only be in so many places at once. :AH-HA_wink:

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There are 2 small cars coming next year

1) the 1.4 beastie in the 2nd quarter

2) the Cobalt replacement in the final quarter.

As I have been saying for a long time, Lutz has been a very busy man for the past few years. However, he can only be in so many places at once. :AH-HA_wink:

Thanks. I hope he lives and works for as long as he desires. Imagine GM if Bob Lutz'd never been there. I admired Mr. Lutz when he went to bat for the GTO about 4 years ago. Different world now.

I'm looking forward to the new Cobalt having seen the spy-shots. And the 1.4 critter should do well...thanks again 'Biz. Best to you.

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Battered by a deepening slump in sales and concerns about whether it can ride out the downturn, GM is counting on the Volt to break its costly association with gas-guzzling vehicles at a time when truck sales are tumbling and gas prices are near record levels.

GM is counting on the Volt to do exactly what? Single handedly turn the whole company around and bring in a profit? I think GM is playing into their own fantasy and I don't see anything but disaster at the end of it.

In case GM hasn't noticed, their car sales are up, at least for the more prominent or fuel efficient models like the Malibu, Cobalt, Aveo, CTS, etc etc. How about instead of investing hordes of cash in a useless marketing vehicle like the Volt, focus on better cars. GM has this notion that it takes lots of green marketing hype to develop a good image, attempting to take a page from the Toyota book. What they haven't noticed, apparently, is that the one company who is thriving in this automotive downturn only makes one hybrid that accounts for less than 2% of its monthly sales. This company has had over 10% increases the last two months in a row, thanks almost entirely to three strong car models.

The solution to GM's problems, as I see it, is simple. The Malibu is already a strong vehicle and well established, if GM keeps it fresh and strong, with a solid model cycle change, there's no reason it can't make its way to 30-50k/month sales. The Cobalt and Aveo, once those are replaced with strong models, will improve GM's image and their sales substantially. The fact that the Aveo is seeing sales increases despite being a piece of junk is proof enough; imagine if it was a good vehicle like the Malibu.

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GM is counting on the Volt to do exactly what? Single handedly turn the whole company around and bring in a profit? I think GM is playing into their own fantasy and I don't see anything but disaster at the end of it.

In case GM hasn't noticed, their car sales are up, at least for the more prominent or fuel efficient models like the Malibu, Cobalt, Aveo, CTS, etc etc. How about instead of investing hordes of cash in a useless marketing vehicle like the Volt, focus on better cars. GM has this notion that it takes lots of green marketing hype to develop a good image, attempting to take a page from the Toyota book. What they haven't noticed, apparently, is that the one company who is thriving in this automotive downturn only makes one hybrid that accounts for less than 2% of its monthly sales. This company has had over 10% increases the last two months in a row, thanks almost entirely to three strong car models.

The solution to GM's problems, as I see it, is simple. The Malibu is already a strong vehicle and well established, if GM keeps it fresh and strong, with a solid model cycle change, there's no reason it can't make its way to 30-50k/month sales. The Cobalt and Aveo, once those are replaced with strong models, will improve GM's image and their sales substantially. The fact that the Aveo is seeing sales increases despite being a piece of junk is proof enough; imagine if it was a good vehicle like the Malibu.

Do you think Toyota is making money on the Prius? Scratch that: I guess if the government gave them the synergy drive on a platter, maybe they are making some money on them. <_<

As the Camaro was a 'halo' car for a previous generation, the Volt will be the 'halo' car for the next. As long as the media gushes over it, it will drive people into the Chevy show rooms where they can then buy an Aveo or Cobalt that does make sense. :AH-HA_wink:

GM has shown that they are shrinking the product cycle: the Malibu went from 7 years to 4. The Impala only existed for 5 years before being replaced. The Cobalt is slated for replacement after 6 years; the Cavalier went 11.

Lutz knows. Rick hired him.

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Do you think Toyota is making money on the Prius?

Well, I don't know if Toyota itself makes money on the Prius....but I can tell you dealers make HUGE money on Prius. Toyota stores here in Las Vegas have a 6-month waiting list for Prius, and that is with a $5,000 markup on each and every one.

Hell, even the '05 model we just got in trade is listed at $24,995.....with 37K miles (!) and we're getting so many calls on it, it will be gone within a week or less, I bet....

(BTW.....young guy that traded the Prius in on a 3.6DI CTS!)

Personally, I think people are crazy for paying that kind of money for that car. The cost of the car/fuel economy equation doesn't pencil at MSRP.....it really doesn't pencil if ur paying $5K over MSRP.....but this car is hotter than hell....STILL...

Have to give kudos to Toyota for the marketing coup of probably the last century......

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Battered by a deepening slump in sales and concerns about whether it can ride out the downturn, GM is counting on the Volt to break its costly association with gas-guzzling vehicles at a time when truck sales are tumbling and gas prices are near record levels.

GM is counting on the Volt to do exactly what? Single handedly turn the whole company around and bring in a profit?

From your quote, they didn't say that. In fact, what that sentence says is basically that the Volt is a PR vehicle, which we know. The core of that sentence is "GM is counting on the Volt to break its costly association". That's image. GM can't live on image alone, but it can't live without image either. Besides that, calling for GM to drop the Volt is foolish - they've gone all in, they can't fold this hand. If they waiver and either don't make the Volt, or make it poorly, GM will still be getting ripped on for it 30+ years from now. It's easy to go back & say "woulda, coulda, shoulda", but this is what they're doing, and it may work. There are people talking about the Volt, looking forward to the Volt, etc. The main negative comments I hear about the Volt *outside of this forum* is cost and "why didn't they make it sooner?" Looking at what people are paying for Prius', the cost issue may not be as bad as it seems, especially with a big tax rebate, and dropping the Volt sure doesn't help the "why didn't they do it sooner." Yes, it is a PR vehicle. GM NEEDS a PR vehicle. They also need small cars, and guess what's coming in the pipeline...

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Do you think Toyota is making money on the Prius? Scratch that: I guess if the government gave them the synergy drive on a platter, maybe they are making some money on them. <_<

As the Camaro was a 'halo' car for a previous generation, the Volt will be the 'halo' car for the next. As long as the media gushes over it, it will drive people into the Chevy show rooms where they can then buy an Aveo or Cobalt that does make sense. :AH-HA_wink:

GM has shown that they are shrinking the product cycle: the Malibu went from 7 years to 4. The Impala only existed for 5 years before being replaced. The Cobalt is slated for replacement after 6 years; the Cavalier went 11.

Lutz knows. Rick hired him.

I am fairly sure the Prius makes a profit. There was an article way back in '03/'04, talking about how Toyota was taking a loss on each one at first, but that was only in the first few years. It's been out for 8 years now, and sells in great quantities, I'm sure Toyota makes a profit on them. It is probably not a large profit though as they are pricing it to compete with the Civic hybrid, which is far less expensive to produce (shared platform, simpler, smaller, cheaper hybrid system). Toyota is still denying that the government funded Synergy at all, while Jim Press says the Japanese government paid for 100% of R&D. There's really no evidence available to us so who knows. We do know that Toyota has been known to use parts suppliers with unethical labor practices.

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I really find this news Shocking!! :AH-HA_wink:

The Volt will be a marketing tool to the Greenies as the Vette is to the Gear heads. If they can make this car work it will improve the image of the new Cobalt or what ever it is called and other hybrid technology.

Unlike here Joe Q public has no clue of what most of this technology is but he wants it. If GM is precieved as a leader in this field it will sell many more Chevys that people can afford.

Lets face it the Prius works but not to the degree that Toyota likes to convice people it does. But the average non car enthusiast buys it hookl line and sinker. In turn they feel the rest of the line is empowered by this advanced technology.

Economy is no different than performance. It does not matter how fast you are but how fast people precieve you. With economy it only matters how efficent people think you are as Toyota is not too much better MPG wise than GM but the public think of them as the leader of the market in MPG when the truth is Honda does much better line up wise.

It is the same argument on Quality as Toyota is not as good as they think and GM in not as bad. Preception is 85% of the game.

Either way the Volt will do more good to sell other Chevys than just its sales numbers. It will draw people into the show room that would not have given Chevy a look other wise. You can't sell em a car if they never come in the showroom. GM needs to prepare the dealers so they know what they have and can tune a looker into a buyer of a product into the dealer. They will have the product if they can correctly present it. It is time for GM to press the dealers to do thier job on selling the cars and not just dealing them.

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Either way the Volt will do more good to sell other Chevys than just its sales numbers. It will draw people into the show room that would not have given Chevy a look other wise. You can't sell em a car if they never come in the showroom. GM needs to prepare the dealers so they know what they have and can tune a looker into a buyer of a product into the dealer. They will have the product if they can correctly present it. It is time for GM to press the dealers to do thier job on selling the cars and not just dealing them.

+1

:yes:

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I am fairly sure the Prius makes a profit. There was an article way back in '03/'04, talking about how Toyota was taking a loss on each one at first, but that was only in the first few years. It's been out for 8 years now, and sells in great quantities, I'm sure Toyota makes a profit on them. It is probably not a large profit though as they are pricing it to compete with the Civic hybrid, which is far less expensive to produce (shared platform, simpler, smaller, cheaper hybrid system). Toyota is still denying that the government funded Synergy at all, while Jim Press says the Japanese government paid for 100% of R&D. There's really no evidence available to us so who knows. We do know that Toyota has been known to use parts suppliers with unethical labor practices.

From the same folks who'd re-write history in saying Pearl Harbor was a training mission gone awry. Sure. banzai.

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Either way the Volt will do more good to sell other Chevys than just its sales numbers. It will draw people into the show room that would not have given Chevy a look other wise. You can't sell em a car if they never come in the showroom. GM needs to prepare the dealers so they know what they have and can tune a looker into a buyer of a product into the dealer. They will have the product if they can correctly present it. It is time for GM to press the dealers to do thier job on selling the cars and not just dealing them.

I'm not sure showing a car to the press that won't come out for another two years will have any kind of dramatic effect on actual consumers. sure the media spotlight will shine on the car for a minute, while the actual fascination with the business aspect remains in the foreground. but actual consumers don't pay attention until something is actually available; they don't care about concept cars they can't actually get.

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The theory for quite some time has been that the Prius is some sort of halo vehicle that drives additional sales for Toyota. However now that people are really turning to more fuel-friendly vehicles Toyota is way down and Honda is way up.

There are a lot of factors at play, but I'm not so sure that this conventional wisdom about the halo effect actually works as advertised.

I agree with Siegen about where GM should be directing the money. It may not be glamorous, but the 1.4 turbo will probably be more important to GM's success than the Volt. An inexpensive but effective hybrid version of the 1.4 even more so.

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I agree with Siegen about where GM should be directing the money. It may not be glamorous, but the 1.4 turbo will probably be more important to GM's success than the Volt. An inexpensive but effective hybrid version of the 1.4 even more so.

GM definitely needs to have worthy volume goods there ready to sell. Hopefully the 1.4 is the right goods and delivers killer mpgs while proving reliable and reasonable to maintain and repair.

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We're in the middle of this transition now (fossil fuels to whatever fuels), so we cannot see for forest for the trees, so to speak. I am sort of reminded of the PC wars in the '80s: IBM dismissed the PC market initially, let the start ups flail around, then swooped in to scoop up a big chunk of the market. It would be nice if that were GM's strategy.

On the other hand, IBM sold their entire PC division to Lenovo, so where does that leave us? :scratchchin:

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For a girl it is not the date when she got knocked up important, but the date when she grunted out the knock!

I think more than unveiling it is the day when people see it. Just like the 'maro if it will be 5 years after Volt is shown, not a good sign.

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