December 14, 2007 10:42 AM PST
Does GM now mean 'green motors'?
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The company also is trying to ensure that the people testing the cars will live near those rare hydrogen filling stations.
In addition, there will be a big push for hybrids and plug-in hybrids, GM executives said. Over the next four years, GM will release 16 hybrids into the market.
Meanwhile, in ethanol, GM will continue to put out flex fuel vehicles that can drive on E85, or a blend of fuel that is 85 percent ethanol. The company has already sold 2.5 million flex fuel cars, and by 2012, roughly half the cars coming out of its factories will be flex fuel cars.
A chief problem with flex fuel cars, however, is the lack of stations that pump E85. Only about 1 percent of stations in the U.S. sell the stuff. To this end, GM will work with stations by providing them with advertising dollars or other promotional materials.
Most of these alternative energy ideas will first appear in the Chevy line, said Susan Docherty, western region general manager for GM, rather than the more expensive brands like Cadillac. The idea is to penetrate the market more rapidly.
There may be a historical element to GM's lack of interest in all-electric cars. The company came out with the EV1, an all-electric vehicle, in the late 1990s. The car developed a small, but rabid, following. GM, however, canceled the leases and took all the cars back a few years later. Some have theorized that GM removed the car from the market to protect its dealer base and oil companies. GM and other automakers (along with several battery executives) have said the withdrawal came because sales were slow.
Either way, it wasn't a public relations high point for GM.
And, by the way, the leases were never huge in number. GM leased only about 800 of the cars over a four-year period, GM's Barthmuss said.
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