recently tackled global warming and the corporate forces against change in its most recent episode, Heat
. (You can watch the full two hour episode at the site.) Among the interviews, they examined GM's new concept plug-in hybrid, the Chevy Volt
. If you happen to follow the link to the Volt's official site, you'll notice a dearth of actual information on the damned thing, let alone any tech-specs that make such sites in any way interesting. There's a reason. The Frontline
crew was invited to shoot some road footage of the Volt as a part of "Heat." The prototype slowed to under 10mph on a gentle grade, finally stalling at the top of the hill. It had to be pushed into the truck that brought it to the shoot.
Martin Smith also interviewed a GM PR hack, asking the one question that everyone in the entire world needs to be constantly asking anyone associated with the Evil Behemoth: Why build the Volt when you had a perfectly good electric in the EV1, a car you recalled and crushed. . . ten years ago
? The hack tried to correct the record, noting the cars were near the end of their life cycles had been "recycled," and that several had been donated to museums and universities.
The first part about the cars being "too old to drive" was bogus through and through. Most of the lessees protested the end-of-lease recalls. Many of them offered to buy the cars outright for far more than the market would warrent. Really, see Who Killed the Electric Car
. The PR hack's last bit about the museum and university donation program proves only partially
true; the donated vehicles came disabled and enjoined with strict warnings for the receivers to never, never, never try to restore the cars to working condition and (gasp!) actually drive the cars. Most of the cars were delivered with key components of the drive system removed. In fact, only the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (NMAH)
got a complete
Only 40 EV1s were preserved, according to Jill Banaszynski, manager of the EV1 donation program, to be given to museums and institutions or kept for research by GM. Of these, the only fully intact EV1, complete with its (now inert) lead acid battery, is today part of the NMAH collection. “Our requirement is that all the vehicles in the museum have to be complete models,” says Withuhn. “We may remove parts, but we have to know that if we wanted to drive a car, or a steam engine, we could -— not that we would. It’s a question of authenticity.”
This stipulation initially posed a problem for GM, which had decided to take the cars off the road because only a relative handful of technicians knew how to work safely on the powerful batteries. But a series of negotiations proved fruitful, and the museum, in March of 2005, received its own complete example of an exemplary machine. (Emphasis mine.)
That line suggesting that "only a relative handful of technicians" proves reason enough to disable the cars? Bull. Complete and utter bull. Sure, the EV1s do have a pretty high voltage pack, over 400 volts, IIRC, but there are lots of folks out there who work on similar voltages daily. . . and many of them can be found at universities. Duh. No, the EV1 was disabled to prevent anyone from seeing those cars on the road ever again.
You see, it turns out that folks sitting high in GM's corporate office towers, the people who make the core decisions regarding what products it will produce and why, have funny feelings compared to the majority of, say, the majority of scientists in this world. Stephen Colbert reinforced that lesson when he had GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz on his show. Take a peek:
Here Lutz is promoting the car that has at least a chance of pulling GM out of the toxic sea of red ink in which it currently gasps and bobs, and Lutz openly shares the fact that he doesn't believe carbon dioxide build-up causes global warming
. "32,000 scientist" believe GW is caused by sunspots
? Really, Bob? Really?!?
Way to sell the whole Volt concept. I'm sure your target market would agree.
The Bottom Line? General Motors is run by a bunch of old fogies that are not only running their company into the ground, taking all of their employees with them, they furthermore haven't the slightest
idea what they are doing wrong, and are therefore highly unlikely to change their corporate course in any positive way anytime soon.
I'm sorry, but when any group runs pell mell through a crowd with a revving chain saw, it's time to act. The sooner GM closes its doors and cedes its market share to companies that don't suck so very, very much, the better everyone both in front of and behind the tailpipes will be.
It's just sad
.*The "Die, Die, Die," of course, refers to a corporate death, not literal death. I may not share, er, any opinions with GM corporate, but that certainly doesn't mean I wish them ill.