Chevrolet enjoyed another above average selling month in July, with 1,849 Volts moving into customers hands, the second best monthly result to date (2,289 were sold in March of this year). This figure was almost triple that of its main competitor, the somewhat extended range (11 miles at speed), Prius Plug-In, which Toyota only managed to move 695 copies of.
So far this year 10,666 Volts have been sold, and while GM will fall well short of an earlier ambitious projection (now rescinded) of 45,000 sold for 2012, it still represents a 271% increase over last year (2,870).
General Motors also passed another significant milestone last week, as the 30,000th production Volt rolled off their Hamtramck, Michigan assembly line. Thinking back to when the car first debuted as a concept at the 2007 NAIAS (also known as the Detroit Auto Show), the extended range car has come a long way.
Bob Lutz And Rick Wagoner Shake Over Concept Chevy Volt
In a weird twist of fate, almost every executive and high level engineer associated with the project, has since left the Voltec project:
- Bob Lutz (former VP of GM): Considered to be the 'father' of the Volt, he first envisioned the car as an all electric vehicle before Jon Lauckner proposed the compromise, extended range concept you saw in 2007. Lutz has since retired from GM, a couple times (at least) and now is on the board of VIA Motors, and can be seen these days shilling, ironically enough, an extended range conversion of GM's Sierra truck (video of Bob and the VTRUX)
- Jon Lauckner (former General Motors Vice President for Global Vehicle Development): Who first told Bob Lutz, "Look, I know you've got your heart set on all-electric, but let me show you why that's a bad idea...", and famously penned the Volt concept on Bob's napkin (which is a nice story, but it didn't happen...it was a regular old lined pad in Lutz's office, and he used his "expensive gold-nibbed pen"). Jon now toils for General Motors Ventures LLC, that seeks out to "identify, engage and build relationships with other venture capital firms and innovative companies." Update Jon may recently be back in the mix to some degree as he fills the roll of tech director, at least in an interm capacity as Tom Stephens has just recently retired from the company.
- Rick Wagoner (former Chairman and CEO of GM): The much maligned former CEO of the company was the man ultimately responsible for green lighting the Volt, and despite being known as the CEO that finally lead GM into Chapter 11, he also managed to keep the Volt alive as the only development project online during GM's descent, while everything else was either canceled or put on permanent hiatus. Rick was
firedresigned at the request of the White House on March 29th, 2009. He now chairs the university of Duke's Board of Trustees.
- Fritz Henderson (former vice chairman and chief financial officer of GM): Bob Lutz and Jon Lauckner created the vision for the car. Rick Wagoner gave it the go ahead. But, it was up to Fritz, and his legion of bean counters, to make it profitable. Good or bad, it was likely his desk that prompted the initiative to simplify the concept and base it on the Delta II (Cruze) platform. After being promoted to CEO after Wagoner left, Fritz got in some very public disputes with eventual GM Chairman Edward Whitacre, Jr., especially when it came to what to do with Opel, and was put out to pasture in February of 2010, as he was restructured as GM's "consultant on their international operations". However, Mr. Henderson knows his way around a calculator, and was quickly picked up by Sunoco about six months later.
- Frank Weber (Global Vehicle Line executive and Chief Vehicle Engineer on the Volt): He was the man tasked with actually bringing the car together, on time, and on budget. Frank also designed most of the sedans for GM's Opel division. We suppose Fritz Henderson thought that because of Frank's Opel connection, and probably the fact Mr. Weber spoke German, he thought it was a good idea to package Frank with Opel on the division's sale to Magna, that ultimately didn't pan out. Frank left Opel fairly quickly "in order to pursue some other business opportunities", which we now understand to be research and development at BMW. Notable projects there include work on the i8 and i3, the latter of which will have an 'extended range' option.
- Denise Gray (Director of global battery systems): She oversaw the first Volt prototype pack that arrived from Compact Power in October of 2007, and was in charge of developing all of GM’s EREV powertrains and plugin batteries, as well as heading up strategic development for the next generation of the Chevy Volt, and what today we refer to as the Cadillac ELR (due out next year). Denise left in 2010 for a start-up battery company in California, before joining Atieva, a leader in electric and hybrid vehicle drivetrains in 2011.
- Tony Posawatz (Vehicle Line Director for 'E-Flex' vehicles for GM): Tony was the engineer who oversaw the Chevrolet Volt plug-in sedan’s development and production for the past six years, he left the company just last month, and he looks to be the only former Volt executive to actually be retiring. UPDATE: Nope, Tony head-faked retirement at GM to take over as CEO at Fisker.
Thankfully, the new Volt management team, and CEO Dan Akerson, seem just as committed to seeing the Volt through to success as was their predecessors. This was demonstrated recently as the chain of command was streamlined at GM, with each product line put directly under executive chief engineers, all of whom report to Doug Parks, who earned a promotion to VP of Product Programs (a new GM title) after receiving praise for leading GM's electric car developments.