Video: General Motors’ EV Chief Engineer Gets Asked to Discuss Tesla Model S Fires (w/bonus videos)

DEC 4 2013 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 13

fletcher

Pamela Fletcher, Executive Chief Engineer, Electrified Vehicles, General Motors

Pamela Fletcher, Executive Chief Engineer of Electrified Vehicles at General Motors, was asked some unexpected questions at Churchill Club, Silicon Valley’s premier business and technology forum.

Since it’s in Silicon Valley, perhaps the Tesla-specific questions weren’t unexpected, but Fletcher seems to be put on edge by some of the challenging questions asked of her.

It’s clear from the video that Fletcher has no interest in taking Tesla, as you’ll see by the way see continually dodges the questions.

For your viewing enjoyment, we’ve put in a series of videos of Fletcher discussing several topics at Churchill Club.

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13 Comments on "Video: General Motors’ EV Chief Engineer Gets Asked to Discuss Tesla Model S Fires (w/bonus videos)"

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Anon

EV echo chamber… It had to start sometime. *shrugs*

scottf200

Pam is an asset. Listened to many interviews over the years over several topics. Her comment about 80% EV driving on the Volt is obviously wrong as it is 63% per http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car.html but for the folks that buy the car for it electric drive it is certainly well above 80% (vs fleet buyers or HOV access buyers). I do roadtrips now so I’m in the 70% range. Just went 300 miles last weekend in my Volt and the first 40 were electric.

I think that GM’s site only tracks US (OnStar) Volts. There’s another 10,000 outside the US. I’ll also add that the typical driver, drives 86% electric.,per Voltstats data that I put into a distribution graph.

Bonaire

I think any of us who have spent a lot of time on GM-VOLT.com could act as Volt spokesperson at least as good or better than how she answers the questions. Since she is “chief engineer” I get the fact that engineers are not able to sound all that marketing-oriented when put in front of an audience (we also see that with Elon). Lutz always did a great job in this kind of Q&A session.

io

Nice graph, but that’s not what she was commenting on. She said 80% of the total miles driven were electric, so at least in the US, she misrepresented the amount of gas used by about 2x. Pretty bad when this is one of the very few numbers she mentioned.

(The rest IMHO wasn’t much better, just uninteresting fluff, nothing new or of value. GM’s “risk-free communication” I guess…)

Bonaire

Wonder bread and American cheese. The folks at gm need to spice things up.

Ahem, well, Ms. Fletcher reminds me of that “Head Engineer” during the Voltec Deep Dive discussion videos, explaining how the Japanese designed Synergy Drive “Reactionary Forces” (!!!) work. I realize the discussion can’t get too wonkish, but I’m skeptical about any actual engineering skills she has, which is ok, but these car companies seem to put a large emphasis on titles. “Yesterday I couldn’t spell engineer and today I are one!”. Its increasingly unimportant, but even Elon Musk takes more credit for the Roadster than really justified, hence all the lawsuits with Martin Eberhart, etc. Is it just me or did she say absolutely nothing at all? And, by the way, there is more difference between the motor in your refrigerator and the motor in your washing machine, than there is between the motors in the volt and the motor in your washing machine, depending on what constructions you care to discuss, but I’m not sure why she should even mention it. Tesla products use the simplest construction of all, and their claim to fame is getting smooth regeneration from a plain old induction motor, something Musk can’t really take credit for. The Model S basically takes the same proven… Read more »

The ELR and Volt share only the fact that they are an extended range vehicle? Really? She is trying to tell us that GM developed a whole new charge controller, battery pack, regen brake system, etc. for the ELR?

Foo

She seems like someone in the job “for the job”, rather than in the job for the passion of it.

Chris O

She’s right not to say too much about Tesla.

First of all: some competitors (Audi..) have dissed Tesla only for it to backfire showing them as weak and panicking.
Second: Tesla is the EV industry’s poster boy, what happens to it reflects bad on all EVs. Third: GM no doubt is really not interested in any association of batteries with fire being knee deep in battery tech itself.
Fourth: going into the specifics of the Tesla fires could be awkward for GM. The cars were penetrated by road debris where in regular cars the occupants feet would have been. If this happened to a relative handful of Model S twice in a short period it would appear road debris penetration is a very real and very dangerous phenomenon, so why don’t all (GM)cars have extra underbody protection against it? Or maybe it isn’t such a real danger and Tesla just was very very unlucky somehow? She was wise to stay out of that hornet’s nest.

Bonaire

In terms of road debris debate. I am sure other cars had hit the debris as well. We saw that other cars were on the side of the road near the Tennessee Model S fire. Are we saying that no other vehicle hit the trailer hitch and other stuff in Washington?

Chris O

No I’m saying that the chance of the underside of your car getting pierced by road debris is remarkable high when you drive a Model S compared to regular vehicles. Rather odd really.

Breezy

See, this is how an executive should behave. No dissing other auto makers, even when baited.