General Motors can't catch a break with its green car plans. As hybrids steadily gained market share in the first half of this decade, the company stayed out of the game. As late as 2003, Bob Lutz, the company's product chief, said that hybrids don't make "economic or environmental sense." When GM finally stepped forward, it did so with all of the passion of a CPA--producing unconvincing low-cost Saturn pseudo-hybrids or hulking gas-electric systems best suited for undesirable full-size SUVs. These efforts were all numbers and no guts.
Finally, GM executives threw all caution to the wind and conceived the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid--an inspiring vision of what a vehicle could be at the beginning of the post-petroleum age. Unfortunately, GM might have missed the mark again--this time completing tossing out the business planning that it over-applied in the past. It appears that the brave and brilliant design of the Chevrolet Volt might require a price tag of roughly double the cost of its primary hybrid competition, the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid--and at the same time become a big money-loser for the company.