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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32 comments

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What?
The big yellow signs that say "E85" aren't enough to let people that E85 is available there?
Posted by aka_tripleB (2211 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Stations are few and far between
In the Seattle area, the closest station that sells ethanol is in Fort Lewis, 40 miles away and it's on military only property. You have to go another 30 miles south to get to the first closest public station. At 70 miles away from your home or work area, that simply isn't workable.

Oil companies prohibit the selling of Ethanol fuels at stations that their own product is sold at. This means you'll never see E85 from any of the big names including Arco/Shell/Chevron/Texaco/etc. And without that level of support, it's doomed by those very same oil companies who are actively working to prevent any alternatives to oil.

It's not a good thing, but it is business. It will take someone like Walmart to come into the fuel market with their own line to really shake up the Big Oil monopolies.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
GM's all about greenbacks, not green-motors..!!
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.chevrolet.com/hybrid/" target="_newWindow">http://www.chevrolet.com/hybrid/</a>

And GM has the gall to call to say "it?s one of the many ways GM
is working to reduce our dependence on petroleum" with a gas guzzling SUV..?!?

Just wait America, if the dollar continues its spiraling decent
you'll soon see pump prices equalling those here in Europe.
Maybe then you'll be wishing you hadn't bought that 20mpg
"green" SUV and bought a 45mpg Volkswagen instead.
Posted by imacpwr (456 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MPG's
It uses only half the amount of fuel to go the same distance for city driving (20 vs 10-12), I would call the at least a little green. Wouldn't you. Americans love SUV's, so that is what car manufacturers are going to make if they want sales in the states.
Posted by Ushiikun (30 comments )
Link Flag
You're 1/2 right, 1/2 an idiot
First of all, I agree wholeheartedly about the price of gasoline in Europe; however, gasoline in the EU is taxed, taxed, and taxed even more while here in the states it's not taxed as heavily. Plus, the US is probably one of the largest "commuting" nations on the planet, so naturally w/ so many cars on the road the idea of raising gas taxes is political suicide.

Anyone remember when Gov. Davis in California tried tripling the auto registration fees? He got NAILED on it, and it was one of the nails in his political coffin.

Second, the Europeans love to hate the US, least of being for our vehicle sizes and gas efficiency. While most "Americans" themselves hate this as well and wish we would move to a more fuel efficient society, it will not happen any time soon (and certainly not under this Administration). Therefore, instead of Europeans thumbing their nose at the US about our choices in vehicles, think about how much gas costs here....10 years ago it was $0.96/gal, now it is $2.96/gal, and steadily rising....therefore, your avg idiot consumer is going to buy what he "wants" rather than what he "needs". I say "He" because men predominately buy the mammoth SUVs and Trucks, at least here in Los Angeles.

Perhaps under our next Administration (Pres. Clinton?), fuel efficiency and green energy will be a higher concern; for now it'll take back seat to flag burning, stem cells, and Iraq.
Posted by close5828 (230 comments )
Link Flag
The Volt has me 'energized'
I can't afford a new car. I really can't, but by the time the Volt is ready in 2010, I will be able to look seriously at my first new car purchase ever. At $30K, this is soemthing I would be very much interested in. Since my daily commute is 35 miles, the electric motor would cut my fuel bills in half right there alone. Even with my fuel sipping compact pickup, the price of gas currently would mean I could drop my weekly fuel costs to $15-20 a week.

The company I work for has a large campus and already is offering plug in recharge stations for the Prius as an employee perk. Since the Volt takes a standard 120 VAC plug, there is no special charging stations needed. Already that company is talking about providing similar parking spaces for those vehicles. That would reduce my commuting costs to... zero.

Zero. That's NO money going to Big Oil at all. Now I have to be realistic and know that I will still fill the tank and it will run on gas now and then, but instead of filling up once a week, it will be more likely I'll fill up once every month or two.

Figure $30 per tank. Five tanks a month. Take that away and it's $150 month the oil company doesn't get from me. At year's end, that's $1800 that they don't get from my income. That money will go a long ways towards the price of the car itself.

Plus you have to admit, the thing is undeniably cool looking. A hybrid or electric car doesn't have to look ugly (like the Prius), they only build them that way. The Volt could be a mass produced car that really makes a difference in our oil consumption habits.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Only plug-ins make sense
Battery-only electric cars at this point are, well, pointless. They are no advance over the EV-1, which was no advance over the Detroit Electric, circa 1907. The VOLT represents the first truly practical (at "nicely under $30K)
electrically propelled automobile and one that is neither inconvenient nor impotent, as all of the battery only electrics are. It takes advantage, brilliantly, on the fact that most cars don't travel more than 20 miles from home
much of the time, nor travel more than 40 miles a day (14,600 miles per year). Obviously Larry Hagmen doesn't understand the concept of tinted windows - here in Florida they are everywhere, and
immensely useful.
Posted by theBike45 (90 comments )
Reply Link Flag
GM should stand for 'green-washing motors'
GM works hard to create the (false) impression they actually care about the environment. It's articles like this that **** me off. GM is not a company that is on the side of ?green? cars. It has spent millions lobbying against tougher corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards and it KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR, while continuing to push the not-in-our-lifetime hydrogen car instead.
Posted by digital.proteus (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hah.
Look sir, if you'd know anything about CAFE and the society you live in, you'd be against it as well.

America is hungry for large vehicles, vehicles that typically get poor mileage ratings, CAFE won't change the way Americans think, the only way automakers can lower their Corporate Average Fuel Economy is by by virtually eliminating full-size vehicles, namely sport utes. The only reason we have people rolling in them in the first place is because of the previous increase, if you remember. :)

Hybrid powertrains should hopefully become standard equipment on cars 10 years from now.
Posted by decomrade (3 comments )
Link Flag
Gas guzzling SUV
It makes a lot more sense to put a hybrid powertrain (re: the Tahoe doesn't lose any power unlike comparable Toyota and regular last-gen GM hybrids... Hell, even Hondas) in a vehicle that gets under 20MPG with its regular powertrain than putting one in a vehicle that gets over 30, don't you think?

It takes so long to get the money you invest in a Prius back that it's not even worth it, while the money you'd invest in a hybridized Tahoe comes back rather quickly! And it's well-equipped, too.
Posted by decomrade (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We dont need Moore's Law.
On your own figures in 10 years time a battery car will go 500 miles on a charge and cost 70% less. Who needs Moores Law. By the time the volt is out in 2010 (even without the inevitable delays) batteries should be doing 333 miles and cost 20% less. When you factor in no gas, no maintenance and continuing battery improvements at an incremental level who needs Moores Law type improvements?
Posted by ronpierre (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Better bring more coal plants online!
With everybody plugging in there cars we will need them.

Why would we want to have all cars plug intot he grid like the Chevy Volt when the majority of powere provided to the grid is supplied by the dirtiest sources there is to the earth (coal)

Plugging your car in does not make it magical and zero impact free, the electricity is made and then supplied to your house

we need to look more to self hydrogen systems like purdue unvirsity is working on or the guy with the salt water for energy

we need to close the loop for energy of cars, not add it to a much bigger costly, dirty loop known as the grid
Posted by mcepat (118 comments )
Reply Link Flag
eh.
There are a number of states (mostly coastal) where the offset benefits; the power generation at the infrastructure/utility level is less polluting than producing it with the engine in your car. However, the same cannot be said with many of the flyovers.
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Link Flag
No! New Developments Will Get Most Everyone OFF the Grid...
and that is more important to life on the planet!
Posted by Possibill (6 comments )
Link Flag
We could have purely electric cars
The excuse that batteries are the reason we can't have electric cars
is wrong. Interested parties should watch "Who Killed the Electric
Car?" or read the Wiki page at:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Killed_the_Electric_Car%3F" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Killed_the_Electric_Car%3F</a>

-Jim
Posted by crazeduser (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
But what generates
the power for the electric cars? And how is the electicity generated? Yeh, we could have done that several years ago but opted not to, the trade off, I don't know.
Posted by suyts (824 comments )
Link Flag
Error in story.
... or green liquids like ethanol. ...

Ethanol is only green on saint Patrick's day. All other days it is clear.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Reply Link Flag
GM green motors
GM should try to work more in the present than in the future. if they did, they probably would sell more cars!
Posted by mtoc (58 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This isn't new.
Anyone who's followed GM will tell you that this is their standard M.O. In a very public and flashy way, embrace the future. As long as it remains a future technology, just out of reach technologically and cost-wise, it makes great press. But because GM never innovates, they just play with it until a new pipe-dream comes along and then they very publicly embrace that, abandoning the old next best thing is old news and a technology that would have never worked.

So with GM, it's a "we'll believe it when we see it," knowing full well, there's probably no chance we'll ever see it. Without a dramatic sea change in leadership and philosophy.
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Link Flag
1995 was viable 2007 more viable
I like people who tell us black is white.
Groucho said it well "Who do you believe, me
or your own eyes?". We all saw the EV1 or at
least a video. Or shouldn't I believe me eyes?
Brian
Posted by BrianOh2 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Air Powered Car?
That seems more interesting that all these mentions.
Posted by Sparky650 (50 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More needs to be done
I was one of the guinea pigs test-driving another vehicle from GM, back in 1997. It was a modified Geo Metro. The acceleration was fantastic as was the simplicity - 2 switches - one for forward/reverse, the other for wet/dry braking (normal/regenerative).

What sucked was the battery capacity - less than 100 miles on a charge.

I had thought about the small gas motor idea to recharge the battery back then but never got around to patenting/publishing on it and now that idea is taken. They call it a "serial hybrid" technology now, unlike the Prius' "parallel hybrid".

What most people don't realize is that even if it is made plug-in, where is the electricity going to come from? If its the same non-renewable source like coal, we have just shifted the problem around, not solved it.

In my opinion we need to solve problems systematically

1) Use renewable sources - solar, wind, hydel
2) Use more efficient technologies as applicable. e.g. fuel cells have a higher efficiency.
3) Use a combination of techniques and fitting the problem keeping in mind that there is no "one size fits all" solution.
4) Encourage, plan and implement effective mass transportation. This is woefully lacking in most of the US.

That this if we really intend to solve/mitigate the problems.
Posted by tech_crazy (564 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Tell Tesla Motors that electric cars are not an alternative..
We Americans are ridiculous..if it wont go 500 miles on a charge, we dont want it. We better be waking up soon, the Amero is coming ( <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amero" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amero</a> ) and times are-a-changing. We must stop believing everything CNN, Fox and MSNBC tell us as gospel and find out for ourselves.
Remember folks, no-where is it set in stone that The United States will prevail forever, its up to us.
People should not fear its Government, Governments should fear its PEOPLE!!
BDR
Posted by BigDumbRedneck (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I ordered mine Volt. <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.chevymall.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=5077&#38;itemType=PRODUCT&#38;RS=1&#38;keyword=volt" target="_newWindow">http://www.chevymall.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=5077&#38;itemType=PRODUCT&#38;RS=1&#38;keyword=volt</a> Buy it now before they pull the model off the market. I do not think they will ever built the full sized version.
Posted by willdryden (271 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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