Feeds

Wagoner: EVillain or EVictor?

Will former General Motors CEO be remembered for Volt or EV1?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

That's not to say the EV1 wasn't a lost opportunity - it was. As Larry Burns, head of GM's R&D division said in a Newsweek interview in 2007: “If we could turn back the hands of time we could have had the Chevy Volt 10 years earlier."

GM's EV1

Axed: GM's EV1

Wagoner's status as a hate figure for the environmentalists was further reinforced by the Hummer project, which many would hold up as symbolic of the basic problem with GM: it has spent the last decade building simple, cheap-to-manufacture trucks and SUVs rather than innovating. In the process, it surrendered the market for well made, technically advanced, modern family cars to the likes of Honda and Toyota.

When oil prices rose and fuel efficiency became an issue with car buyers, GM was stuck with a not undeserved reputation for making crude vehicles with poor economy.

Since then GM has been piling all its eggs into the Volt basket with almost indecent haste, making it currently the only model GM has spared from cuts in its development budget.

But the Volt was too little and too late to save Wagoner. The Auto Task Force's report to the President contained a damming statement:

"GM is at least one generation behind Toyota on advanced, 'green' power train development. In an attempt to leapfrog Toyota, GM has devoted significant resources to the Chevy Volt. While the Volt holds promise, it is currently projected to be much more expensive than its gasoline-fuelled peers and will likely need substantial reductions in manufacturing cost in order to become commercially viable.”

It's hard to argue with that conclusion. We think the Volt is a great idea and have our fingers crossed that come 2012, we'll be able to take a right-hand drive Opel Ampera for a spin here in the UK. But a car to save a company the size of General Motor's it is not.

That's the problem with scrabbling to play catch up and touting a model that you have admitted won't make a dime in profit as the reason for the tax payer to dig deep and keep you in business. And it's not the only the problem from the Oval Office's perspective.

GM Ampera

Ampera: Europe's Volt

In 2008, GM sold 177,000 Chevrolet Malibus in the US. Now the Malibu is a pretty good car, albeit one based on an ageing platform developed by Opel in Europe that is also used as the basis for both the Saab 9-3 and Opel Vectra. But in the same market and during the same time period, Honda sold 372,000 Accords while Toyota shifted over 436,000 Camrys.

That's GM's real problem - and Wagoner's real legacy – a major lack of competitiveness in the mass market. Until the company gets that sorted, betting the family farm on the Volt looks less like clever long-term planning and more like green-washed desperation. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.