In recent years, Nick Zielinski has led the powertrain engineering teams on a number of GM advanced technology programs including the Chevy Equinox fuel cell vehicle and the Sequel concept. For the past two years, his focus has shifted to making the Chevrolet Volt a reality. The common thread through all of these recent efforts is electric drive. The difference is the source of the electricity. The Volt, of course, uses a lithium ion battery with an internal combustion range extender. Just because this configuration is coming to the road sooner doesn't mean that Zielinski has given up on his previous efforts.
Following the announcement of GM's battery manufacturing plans at the Detroit Auto Show on Monday, Zielinski spoke with MarketWatch about the program. Throughout all the financial turmoil of the last several months, development of the Volt has proceeded full speed ahead. Sources at suppliers to the program have also confirmed to ABG that Volt-related work is the only thing still moving for GM.
In spite of the current enthusiasm for extended range EVs from GM, Chrysler and Daimler, no one expects this architecture to remain dominant for the long term, including Zielinski. Just like Daimler officials did at the reveal of the Concept BlueZero, Zielinski believes that hydrogen will be the long term answer to energy storage and production in electric drive vehicles.