Last Chevy Volt Rolls Off The Line, A Car That Made Electrification Real

by Heather Platt | Posted on Monday, February 25th, 2019

As their company was swirling around the financial drain in the early 2000s, General Motors executives came up with an idea to counter its gas-guzzling image and point the way to transportation of the future: An electric car with a gas-engine backup that could travel anywhere.

2019 Chevy Volt

At Detroit’s auto show in 2007, they unveiled the Chevrolet Volt concept car, not knowing yet whether they had the technology to pull off a major breakthrough in battery-powered vehicles.

The Volt was among the first plug-in hybrids, many of which can go only 20 or so miles on electricity and haven’t gained much popularity among consumers.

Yet the Volt did serve a purpose. It led to advances in lithium-ion batteries similar to those that power smart phones and computers. But such advances ultimately led to the Volt’s demise as GM and other manufacturers developed fully electric vehicles that can go 200 more miles per charge.

“While it was a financial loser, it did what was intended,” said retired GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who shepherded the Volt into production. “We viewed it as a stepping stone to full electrics, which were totally out of reach due to the then-astronomical cost of lithium-ion batteries.”

GM now has the Chevrolet Bolt, which can go 238 miles on a single charge, and it has promised many more electric vehicles in the future.

Winters had always wanted an electric car, but like many, was afraid he’d run out of juice and get stranded. “When the Volt came out I was happy,” he said of its nearly unlimited range.

GM, he said, should have spent more to promote the car. “I’ve been really surprised at the lack of marketing,” he said. “I would not have an electric car if I did not have that gas engine.”

“They made some huge strides with that car, but it wasn’t all that it could have been and certainly not what they envisioned when they unveiled the concept,” Abuelsamid said.

Although it would be nice to continue producing the Volt, GM needed to stop making it due in part to changing consumer preferences for SUVs, he said. The company also lost money on every Volt, cash that is needed for research on autonomous vehicles and more advanced electric cars, he said.

“It’s not the right vehicle for the market today,” said Abuelsamid. “It doesn’t really make sense to keep it going. As much as you’d like to, it’s probably better to let it go.”


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