"Experts" express skepticism of Volt program's success

Although the target launch date is still over two years away and there haven't been any major hitches, some consultants are expressing doubts that the GM Volt program will end in success. The "experts" to which I refer are members of the Gerson Lehrman Group Automotive Council who conducted an analysis of a Reuters story that appeared on the MSNBC website detailing the efforts and progress of the Volt program.

The most critical of the four assessments (two of which lie behind a subscription service and whose tone can only be estimated to be positive and mixed by their given report titles) was written by Mark Fendley who is the "Continuous Improvement Manager at BMW Manufacturing in Spartanburg, South Carolina" and has been with that company since 1998 according to the GLG website. His report, titled, "The Volt - GM's Attempt at Green Marketing without the Green Product or the Green Return," contends that the battery technology behind the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is too unproven, environmentally destructive, and expensive to "ensure a 2010 launch." No sources are given to bolster the environmental claims in the article. Also unmentioned, unfortunately, are any details of the battery tech an all-electric car his employer is rumored may produce.

The other viewable report, written by Michael Kowalski (described as a self-employed consultant who is an adjunct professor at Wayne State University and who worked for GM as a staff engineer from 1970 until 2002) is titled, "Can the General Motors Volt meet the expectations?" and is a little less hysterical in tone. He does make sobering mention of GM's diesel engine "experiment" in the '80s and outlines some of that company's other efforts to develop alternative drivetrains. Although we can't say we completely agree with his analysis, especially as it pertains to GM using nickel metal-hydride as a battery chemistry it could fall back on, it does make for an interesting read. We look forward to reading analysis from our own experts (i.e., our readers) in the comments section following this post.

[Source: Gerson Lehrman Group]

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