With the economy crumbling and sales way down, GM announced some drastic steps Friday. Among them were delays in the carmaker's product development plans.
In the auto industry, that's a scary move. Delaying new product means delaying the increased sales that come with them. Not all product programs were put off, however. Some are simply too far along to bother delaying. The investments have been made and it's time to reap some of the benefits.
The Chevrolet Volt seems to have made it through unscathed. In fact, GM said it would increase spending on its next-generation auto.
The plug-in Volt is, basically, an electric car with a ride-along gasoline engine. With a fully charged battery, it will be able to drive about 40 miles on electricity alone. As the battery begins to run low, the gasoline engine will fire up and begin producing electricity for longer range.
One thing the Volt won't generate is much profit for GM in its first generation. But it has already proven to have enormous public relations value. Its enormous fuel efficiency - the Volt could easily get triple digit miles-per-gallon numbers in government tests - will also give GM a lot of breathing room for meeting Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements.