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GM plans to share Volt's technology, but not its name

Automotive News reports on GM's brand plans for the Chevrolet Volt.

Automotive News

DETROIT--As General Motors Co. expands its lineup of rechargeable vehicles beyond the Volt, it will not brand them to be identified with the plug-in Chevrolet launching next year, a senior GM executive says.

That approach sets GM apart from Toyota Motor Corp., which is considering a range of hybrids identified with the Prius.

"Our thought is to take the Volt technology to other products," Brent Dewar, chief of global operations for Chevrolet, told the Reuters Autos Summit in Detroit this month. "The Volt was the original vehicle that we started, but I wouldn't see that as a brand marketing direction for us."

The Prius, introduced in the late 1990s, commands about three-fourths of the hybrid market.

Dewar said the Volt would pave the way for more vehicles based on the same technology--combining a rechargeable battery pack for all-electric driving with a gasoline-powered generator for longer trips.

But Dewar said the Volt name would not be identified with GM's future electric vehicles.

By contrast, Toyota's brand chief has said the automaker was considering a plan to put the Prius name behind a broad family of high-mileage hybrids.

Bob Carter, group vice president of Toyota's U.S. sales arm, told the Reuters Autos Summit that he thought the Prius had become synonymous with hybrid cars.

The Volt is on track to become the first mass-market plug-in hybrid in the United States. It is designed to run for 40 miles on a battery charge and can be recharged at a standard electric outlet.

When the battery is partly depleted, a small gasoline engine kicks in to recharge it and power the vehicle. That will allow the Volt to make longer trips without what Dewar called "range anxiety."

Separately, the Detroit News reported last week that GM will produce the Cadillac Converj plug-in concept car it introduced last January at the Detroit auto show. The vehicle uses the same technology as the Volt.

A Cadillac spokeswoman declined comment.

The Volt will be sold in North America and Europe before it goes on sale in Asia, Dewar said. The introduction in Europe is to be in 2011.

Dewar said Opel will sell its extended-range Ampera, derived from the Volt, in Europe alongside the Volt.

(Source: Automotive News)