I really hope they hit their 2010 goal of a car that runs only on electricity. No Prius this, a small gas engine will only be used to recharge the batteries if they run down.
That could eventually make oil just another electrical source. Eventually, because those old gas-guzzlers will still be sold and they last for a long time.
Kudos to General Motors for taking the plunge, apparently risking the company in the process. According to the Atlantic author, "focus groups liked the company’s cars better when the logo was removed." That's pretty close to my opinion of the 100 year-old company before they announced this last year.
Even if they end up with Microsoft-like delays in hitting their deadline, they're pouring money into battery research which will help us in countless areas.
Also, other companies have to follow when the largest, er maybe second largest, automaker makes a commitment like this. Toyota, for instance, used to dismiss electric cars as impractical. According to the article:
At the 2008 Detroit auto show, Katsuaki Watanabe, the president, announced that Toyota would produce a lithium-ion plug-in car of its own, and would have it on the street in test fleets “not at the end of 2010, but earlier than that.” Toyota was talking about a few hundred experimental cars in a controlled setting, not tens of thousands of cars in dealer showrooms, a much less ambitious goal than GM’s. But Toyota is famous for under-promising and over-delivering.
In February, Tesla, the Silicon Valley company, announced plans for an electric sedan with a gasoline-powered generator, like the Volt—but set to arrive a year earlier, in late 2009. In March, BMW said it might produce an electric car for the U.S. market, and in May, Nissan said it would have one in test fleets in 2010. The drumbeat seems likely to continue. Simply by announcing the Volt, GM has attracted a bevy of competitors, bringing the electric car’s mass-market advent from over the horizon to around the corner.