Speaking at the Reuters Auto Summit in Detroit today, Bob Lutz stated that the Chevrolet Volt series hybrid will be in production by the end of 2010. What's more interesting is that he told reporters employees working on the Volt "are becoming increasingly nervous" about meeting that deadline. According to Lutz, however, GM leaders are insisting it be done, so the families of those on the Volt team shouldn't expect to see their loved ones much until after Dick Clark drops the ball on 2010. As we mentioned yesterday, the first test of the Volt's viability will be working prototypes demonstrating the car's capabilities by Easter of 2008. Earlier guesstimates had the Volt entering production and going on sale sometime in 2010, so today's clarification appears to give the General a little breathing room by only promising production to start by the end of the decade.
More after the jump.
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It's astounding how much significance General Motors has placed on getting the Volt production ready by 2010 with the hope of toppling Toyota's dominance in the green car marketplace. GM clearly wants to beat Toyota both in sales of the Volt versus the Prius (that will take some time) as well as overtaking the Japanese automaker in the minds and hearts of environmentalists and green-conscious consumers. Having missed its opportunity to field a true hybrid early in the game when only the Prius and Honda Insight were proving the viability of hybrids, GM plans to make up lost ground and then some with the Volt.
Battery technology is still the main stumbling block, and GM has its two battery suppliers, A123 Systems and Compact Power, working overtime to improve the performance and durability of their lithium-ion batteries, but GM is also working on the problem internally and applying for patents along the way to protect its investment. If GM succeeds by getting the Volt to market in time with a 40-mile range on its Li-ion batteries alone, those patents will ensure that competitors like Toyota will have to invest their own money to develop batteries that can match those found in the Volt. Ah, so many ifs, though...