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Car of the Future Open Production

Project Updates

2.2.07 A Shocker in Detroit, a Trip to the Rockies

In January, our production team spent two days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. We were shooting at Cobo Hall, a 700,000-square-foot exhibition center in the shadow of General Motors headquarters. The big drama was the rollout of the Chevy Volt, GM's plug-in hybrid concept car.

Bob Lutz, GM's vice chairman of global product development, had this to say:

"Well, here it is, the Chevrolet Volt, an electrically driven car from General Motors. I am shocked, truly shocked. A GM electric vehicle is an inconvenient truth...."

Lutz

Lutz continued, "Interesting fact: 78 percent of Americans live within 20 miles of work. So, if your daily driving—whether to work or running errands or recreational use—is 40 miles a day or less, and you charge the vehicle [the Volt] every night when you get home, you will never need to buy gasoline during the entire life of the vehicle. And you would save 500 gallons of gasoline and eliminate 4.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year from the tailpipe."

Tom and Ray with Volt

Unfortunately, Tom and Ray (along with everyone else) were unable to get a delivery date from GM despite their persistent efforts, which included pinning Tony Posawatz, GM's vehicle line director, to the hood of the car and twisting his arm. GM says the problem is that the Volt needs better batteries before it can become a reality.

The next stop on Tom and Ray's quest was the Rocky Mountain Institute to visit Amory Lovins and learn how making vehicles lighter can drastically increase their efficiency. Lovins and his colleagues are finding economical ways to replace steel body parts with carbon fiber. Ray brought his own test equipment to determine the strength of the carbon fiber body of Lovins' concept vehicle, the Hypercar.

Ray with sledgehammer

You'll have to watch our show to see what damage was done.

We're off to California now to testdrive some electric vehicles. We'll let you know what we find.

—Joe Seamans, Producer, "Car of the Future"


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