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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    GM Shifts Engineers to Speed Creation of Electric Car

    Transferring fuel-cell engineers to the production side of the company means GM can focus all efforts, from all different propulsion types, toward getting the Volt to the market, Burns said.

    GM also said today it would shift 100 engineers to its global product development organization to work on integrating fuel cells into other future vehicles. The automaker said 150 scientists and program support staff will remain at GM's research and development center to research hydrogen storage and ``program commercialization.''

    The biggest obstacle for the Volt's plug-in technology is building a lithium ion battery that can last at least a decade and have the reliability carmakers expect from current gasoline models, Vice Chairman Bob Lutz and other executives have said.

    ``We've run the fuel-cell program as a skunk works up until now,'' Burns said. ``Now we need to tap in to the production and marketing expertise of the company to get this developed as quickly as possible. We have our A Team on this.''

    An advisory board including Burns, Lutz and other key executives for the Volt is meeting every two weeks, Burns said.

    Sign of Progress

    Signaling progress on the Volt, Wagoner said last week GM awarded battery-research contracts to Michigan-based Compact Power Inc., a subsidiary of South Korea's LG Chem Ltd. and another to Continental Automotive Systems, a Continental AG unit. Burns said 13 companies bid for the two contracts.

    The Volt would be superior to GM's last electric car, the EV-1, because the onboard engine can be tapped for long trips, giving it a maximum range of about 640 miles, Lutz said earlier this year. The EV-1 traveled about 60 miles to 90 miles before it needed to be plugged in and recharged.

    GM invested more than $1 billion on the EV-1 a decade ago. It abandoned the technology because of the car's expense and need for frequent recharging. GM has already invested $1 billion on fuel cells and plans to invest another $1 billion.

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