DETROIT--In General Motors' viability plan given to the Treasury Department, company executives pledge to boost the number of gasoline-electric hybrids in GM's lineup to 26 models by 2014, from 8 today.
The technology will be ready. But GM may be unable to deliver the goods, mainly because of potential parts shortages, said GM's top powertrain executive.
"When we put our viability plan together, we had to use the assumptions we have today on the components that are available," Tom Stephens, GM executive vice president of global powertrain and global quality, told Automotive News. "There are a lot of ifs, ands, and buts associated with that. We will have all of this developed, but depending on component availability, we may do one thing or the other."
On April 1, Stephens will take over global product development from Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who will become a senior adviser until retiring December 31.
Stephens wouldn't say which components could be in short supply. But lithium ion batteries could be hard to get because of supply constraints. GM also doesn't make electric motors, but might need to if the Chevrolet Volt, production version of the Cadillac Converj concept, and their variants sell well.
One vehicle--the Saturn Vue Two Mode hybrid--already has been delayed because of a component shortage. That vehicle was supposed to have been launched by now but has been pushed back to June, Stephens said. He refused to say what parts are unavailable.
GM plans three hybrid powertrains: a simple belt-alternator starter system such as the one on today's Saturn Vue and Chevrolet Malibu; and two versions of the Two Mode system, one for rear-drive trucks and one for front-drive vehicles.
The front-wheel-drive Two Mode will have a plug-in feature designed to enable more distance on electric power only. GM considers the Chevrolet Volt an electric vehicle, not a hybrid.
This year GM has broadened its hybrid offerings by rolling out Two Mode versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.
Stephens said nearly all of GM's product plans are in flux as the company overhauls its operations to cope with lower sales.
Said Stephens: "Right now there are so many things changing. Product programs change by the week. Things haven't really settled down yet. We don't really know where the market is going."
(Source: Automotive News)