Presidio Graduate School Professor Dariush Rafinejad has published a full 29 page report on the Chevrolet Volt’s development, research and marketing.
Rafinejad interviewed high ups at General Motors for his paper, titled “Chevrolet VOLT a Disruptive Innovation Bridge to Electrified Transportation”. The Volt has certainly had a disruptive affect on the automotive market, winning dozens of awards for its innovation and engineering, including the 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year.
Rafinejads paper highlights how the Volt was intended to leap frog Toyota’s hot selling Prius. Rafinejad also notes the Prius was initially built as a reaction to the first modern, fully electric car, the GM EV-1. GM felt the need to shake its image of being the company that “killed the electric car” after it axed the EV-1 project.
The idea to avoid a fully electric powertrain on the Volt was brought up by GM’s Jon Lauckner. GM had already developed range extending technology when it was developing the EV-1, using a gasoline generator to extend the range of the car during long testing sessions.
“We were driving the EV-1 back and forth across the state on a regular basis,” said EV-1 engineering chief, Andrew Farrah. “Because the engineers needed more miles to do their work than the batteries alone would provide, they devised small trailers equipped with gasoline-powered generators that their EV-1 test vehicles towed along behind. Push a button and it generated electricity, and as long as you were not driving faster than sixty miles per hour, you could keep driving until the gas ran out.”
The Volt was given the green light by former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz and was first seen at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show. The 40-mile-electric-only range was seen as more than enough to meet the driving needs of most Americans. The paper also states that as a car for the masses, the Volt had to be affordable. However when it was introduced, it came in at $40,000, showing that price took a back seat to technology and innovation on the project.
Rafinejad wraps his report up by saying the Volt team felt they had done a good job with the car.
“Two years after the product launch, the Volt team felt they had done a good job. The 40 EV miles had been the right choice and it was market tested. Customer experience, and various consumer reports and EPA data were positive, Volt has done many things for GM beyond being the first E-REV in the market and paving the way to electric transportation,” writes Rafinejad.
GM has recently reduced the price of the Volt to $34,995 for 2014 models. With a federal tax credit of up to $7,500, a Volt could potentially be had for as low as $27,500. Reflectively, last month was the strongest sales month for the Volt since the cars introduction in December 2010.
Want to know more? Rafinejads full 29 page report can be read here.