GM reaffirms commitment to build Volt by 2010, refuses to commit to date

In the wake of General Motors Chairman Richard Wagoner's comments last that the Chevy Volt may not make it to production by 2010, GM executives and communications staff are madly trying control the story. Here's what the boss said during the GMNext launch event:

How important is the Chevy Volt E-Flex program to GM's future, and how confident are you that the car will hit the road in 2010?

Rick Wagoner:
The Chevy Volt, and the E-Flex system, are really important for GM's, and I think the whole industry's, future. With the growing demand for oil, we need to diversify the sources of power for autos, away from our traditional 98% reliance on oil. As to when the Volt will hit the road, we continue to put massive resources into production as soon as possible. 2010 would be great, but can't guarantee that at this time. We'll keep you posted regularly on our progress.

Read on after the jump for an explanation of all this.

[Source: General Motors]

The problem is that Wagoner is the Chairman of a huge public company. As such he has to be very careful about making public commitments to anything. When a product program is still three or more years from production and contains technology that may or may not work, he has to equivocate. People buy and sell a lot of stock based on statements from executives like Rick Wagoner and Bob Lutz. When the things they say don't come to fruition, lawsuits often result.

Wagoner is by nature more conservative than Lutz and has his own style. But even the outspoken Lutz has never actually said that GM "will build" the Volt by the end of 2010. That's the target date and they are putting in all the resources necessary to make it happen. Car makers never actually publicly commit to a Job 1 date until the tooling is delivered and they building pilot vehicles which is usually within twelve months of full production and often much closer. If they were to commit to a November 2010 launch and it slipped to March 2011, everyone would be all over them even though such a scenario would be not all unexpected in such a program.

All that being said, everyone below that level at GM still seems supremely confident that Volt will enter production on or about that time. Jon Lauckner, VP for Global Program Management, GM spokesman Rob Peterson and many others continue to say they expect the car to launch around the end of the decade. Depending on what happens between now and then the Volt be produced "on time" or not, but you won't hear it officially until much, much closer to that time. In the meantime, Lutz also has his say on the GM Fastlane blog.

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