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Most of this week's news stories on the new Chevy Volt reference last year's sleeper hit movie "Who Killed The Electric Car?" That movie, of course, took GM to task for building a great, zero-emission car, the EV1, leasing them, then canceling the programs and taking almost all of the EV1s out to the desert and crushing them. GM's Dave Barthmuss answered questions from AutoblogGreen about that decision, and you can read what he had to say here.
I wanted to get hear what Chris Paine, the director of "Who Killed The Electric Car?" thought of the Volt and GM's plugged-in news this week. This is what he told me:

Sebastian - We came to Detroit for the unveiling and the Volt looks great. It's a beautiful design and the result of what looks like earnest and incredible hustle at GM over the last 12 months. I was impressed. The proof, of course, will be when the car is sitting in your or my driveway, but in the meantime you can be sure that all of our pressure as consumers and citizens has made a difference.

GM has listened and made some good decisions to return to the EV table in earnest. I do not agree with their press faulting the EV1 nor do I believe that everything must wait for the perfect lithium battery; but by the same token I don't feel that this is just a PR play at GM. We talked to senior executives and many employees who looked us in the eye and spoke from their hearts. One executive said "the public won't forgive GM twice" which is a revealing and accurate comment.

From what I can see, GM is doing the right thing and I'm supporting them as long as they keep making good decisions and moving plug-in cars into production reality. It's a week we can all be proud of.

CHRIS


[Source: Chris Paine]


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  • 10 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      GM says the batteries aren't ready. The press seems to be taking them at their word, a word that we know has been problematic in the past.

      Someone in the press needs to ask the big question:

      What are the specs these batteries need to hit to be "ready"? Specifically, what is the cycle life, calendar life, energy density and any other spec that GM says it needs to determine if this is a viable battery?

      Once we have this info, we can go to Johnson Controls/SAFT and A123 and ask them if they can hit the mark with their LiIon batteries.

      I am skeptical of GM's word because of past lies. Let's call them out and get the real info from them. No more taking their word.
      • 8 Years Ago
      If only online/blog RequestForProposals were allowed..

      anyway,
      Biggie for Li-Ion batteries in NorthAmerica = cold weather
      Looking at affordable plugin conversions for the Prius I came across Hymotion. Their spec is :
      Charge temperature range: -10 deg C to 35 deg C
      Operation temperature range: -20 deg C to 45 deg C

      That won't cut it.
      Much of the North American consumer base goes below -10 deg C (at night - during charge cycle) for more than 3 months of the year.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What if the most popular car was built by GE, not GM, would the price reduce over time like a plasma screen TV or a toaster? Would the increased draw from power stations to recharge our GE car batteries still create less polution than todays 'dirty' cars? And if we must have some 'dirty' cars what if they were powered by cleaner burning ethanol produced from corn grown in the USA? (Brazil has done it creating ethanol from sugar cane, I believe) Wouldn't that mean the US and other modern nations were no longer held to ransome by increasing fuel prices? What would the situation be in the Middle East if nations throughout the world relied on alternative power to drive 'clean' cars? With Chinas emerging giant economy creating a balooning of upwardly-mobiles buying cars can we afford to wait and see what happens with the worlds polution levels? When petroleum companies are making a killing world-wide on rising fuel prices would you ask THEM about cheaper alternatives? Why WOULD you expect the major auto builders to turn to electric powered cars when the bottom line is more important than some hairy-fairy idea about global warming and the ozone layer? If not GE, what about Hoover or Sanyo? Can't wait to see their sports model.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Paul's right: If GM holds out for better batteries, we'll call its bluff by asking for minimum acceptable battery specifications.

      As Ronald Reagan said: "Trust, but verify."

      I have a problem with GM's excuses about EVs. Dave Barthmuss continues to say that only 800 people wanted the EV1, when the truth is that GM only offered 800 for lease. Thousands more customers signed up for EV1s, but GM refused to build them, let alone lease or (Heaven forbid!)sell them.

      Also, Barthmuss can't name another model that GM wouldn't sell because of liability or spare parts concerns. Cuba is full of discontinued auto models for which few parts are commercially available; the owners make the needed parts themselves and keep their cars running.
      mike
      • 7 Months Ago
      so now wheres your movie abuot toyota? since you admitted pubicly that you purposely left them out the first time (p.30 of March Car and Driver), its only right for you to do a movie on them too.


      but anyway, i think the volt would be a hit for gm, the batteries seem to be further along than theyre letting on from waht ive read. lets get this thing going, along with the plug-in vue thats in the works, gm's got some steam- lets hope they just dont screw this up.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Paul, you're an idiot (bless your heart). There's one critical spec that you forgot to mention, cost. Sure, JCI or some other company might be able to manufacture a battery that has the proper life, or energy density, but if the pack costs as much as the rest of the car itself, hardly anyone is going to buy it.

      If only a handful of people can afford it, then it'll make it hard for GM to recoup the cost of all the tooling they need to build the car, further driving up the price, or cutting sharply in to their bottom line. It's a vicious circle that will result in a horribly overpriced car that people will bitch about.

      GM took a huge PR risk by unveiling this concept. If they don't build it, they'll be crucified by the public. The fact that they even showed this concept means that they're serious about producing it. I for one have no problem taking their word on this.

      So go ahead and start your witch hunt, I'll just stand by and keep on watching you make a bigger fool of yourself.
      • 7 Months Ago
      We were really inspired by Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car" - so we created a little segment for our national PBS series, The Hippy Gourmet:

      The solar powered, rollerblading chariot with the head of "W" on it

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45ZquJIolvY

      Enjoy!
      • 7 Months Ago
      I was incredibly ispired...and very pissed off to say the least when I saw tis DVD. Here in Ga, no one knows that a true all electric car had been invented, although I often wondered, and then to see that one had been created, and was further more so incredibly well made!! It was absolutely devastating that someone could destroy that!! I would have flown out to California and bought one that day if I could!! And I know of many people who would as well!! I just dont see how this is happening it makes no sense to me. I would like to know also where I can find someone like the guy in the video to put one of those batteries in my car. He said you can put one in any car. Why dont we just start popping little battery shops up all over the country and converting our existing cars since obviously waiting on the car companies to do it for us is not working out so well! I would love any feedback from anyone who can help me find that guy or someone like him! Thanks!
      • 8 Years Ago
      I am a student at Columbia University, and I wanted to show your movie at a school sponsored event during Global Climate Change Awareness week. Do i have your permission to do so? (even though every week should be Global Climate Change Awareness Week?)
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Sequel and this Volt are actually a distraction for the convincing of investors and the bewilderment of competitors.
      Something top-secret and much more practical is being hustled into a cost-efficient production form!
      Can't say anything about it, though, or Bob and Rick would have me sent to the gallows!