Since General Motors filed for bankruptcy on Monday, auto aficionados and green geeks alike have been speculating about the fate of the company's long-heralded electric car, the Chevy Volt.
"We don't know whether GM will be able to introduce the Volt or not," said William Holstein, author of Why GM Matters, in a Washington Post Q&A. "It would have been, and could still be, a real breakthrough vehicle." The car, previously scheduled for release in fall of 2010, would run on an electric battery and have a small gas engine to generate backup juice if needed.
The government, which now owns 70 percent of the company, has been calling for more fuel-efficient cars, but will it want to take on the financial risk of a car that might not turn the quick profits GM so desperately needs? As Keith Johnson notes in his Wall Street Journal blog, "As the majority of shareholders, [the government] will want GM return to solvency… But not even the restructuring will make the pricey Volt a mass-market success."
Spokespeople for the company say that the Volt, with a projected sticker price of about $40,000, is "absolutely on target," reports The New York Times. "It is as high a priority as we have in this company," said Terry Rhadigan, a Chevrolet spokesperson. Chevy says that there will be 80 test vehicles on the road by this October.
What else does GM have up its sleeve to weather the stormy months ahead? According to recent statements, the American icon, which is rumored to be selling Hummer to a Chinese company, "plans to build a future small car in the United States." It was hard to tell from their "small" press release precisely what that means, but we'll keep you posted if we hear anything.
See a ScientificAmerican.com slide show of the Volt.
Image courtesy of igloowhite via Flickr
The Volt (and GM's departing Bob Lutz) were on David Letterman in May: