Whaaaa? Alexandra Paul is helping market the Volt for GM, a company she so vehemently protested in 2005 that she ended up in jail? Has the world turned upside down?
In the world of electric vehicles, it sort of has. Five years ago, EV activists and car companies were pitted against each other. We were furious that Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Ford, Chevrolet, Daimler Chrysler and GM were taking back their electric vehicles and crushing them, and we protested rigorously in the streets, in the press and through legislation.
Then came a perfect storm for battery powered transportation: Gas prices shot up, global warming became a household word with An Inconvenient Truth and Americans tired of being entangled with the Middle East. Suddenly, consumers were interested in alternatives to conventional gas cars, and after millions watched the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, electrics became their choice over bio-fuels and hydrogen.
Automakers just as suddenly changed their tune, and began promising to mass market electric vehicles, this time for real. I was skeptical, very skeptical, and so were many of my EV activist friends. We were seeing EVs at auto shows all over the world but concept cars are just greenwashing if the manufacturer doesn't take the next step.
I was especially suspicious of GM. Like a disappointed lover, I didn't know if I could trust this company again. I had fallen in love with its EV1 14 years ago and had wept when mine was loaded onto a flatbed to be taken to the crusher. Could I give GM a second chance?
Yes, and for several reasons: for all my anger at GM for destroying its electric car program and fighting clean air regulations alongside the other car companies, I always appreciated its dedication to building the greatest electric car in the EV1. GM was the only manufacturer to develop an electric car in the 1990s from the ground up - no lazy conversion from an existing gas model like the other automakers. The genius of the GM engineers was obvious in the magnificence of the EV1. It was the lack of commitment from the "suits" at GM which got my ire up.
I also believe GM has been humbled by its recent bankruptcy, and is eager to start anew. The Volt is an opportunity for it to show the world it is not the dinosaur it seemed to be, that it is forward thinking and innovative, and the Suits now know that.
I believe it is crucial for the Volt to succeed if electric cars are to gain a foothold on America's roadways. GM seems to agree with me. To that end, we are joining forces to make that happen. Let the adventure begin!
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