Chevrolet chief: Division to have bigger role in GM

January 14, 2010

Chevrolet chief: Division to have bigger role in GM

Jim Campbell is gearing up for what is shaping up to be a momentous year at General Motors Co.

That’s because the general manager of the Detroit carmaker’s Chevrolet division is overseeing a brand that makes up 61 percent of GM’s sales and is planning to roll out the highly touted Volt electric car later this year.

The Volt carries a lithium ion battery that can be recharged at a standard wall outlet or through the operation of an on-board, gasoline powered generator.

Chevrolet also is gearing up for GM’s Lansing Delta Township plant to take over production of the Traverse, a crossover that until November, 2009, had been made in Spring Hill, Tenn.

• How important is the Traverse to Chevrolet’s lineup, and how is its move to Lansing going?

• We don’t have an estimate on how many will be made. Production in Lansing is going to start up in Lansing in mid-February. That’s great news. They’re tooling up for it already.

• How has Chevrolet’s role within GM changed as Saturn, Pontiac, Saab and Hummer have gone (or are going) away?

• Last year, Chevrolet represented about 61 percent of GM’s (sales) volume. Going forward, Chevrolet’s role will increase within the company. We’ll need to do over 70 percent of the volume. As I’ve said earlier: So goes Chevrolet, so goes General Motors.

• Extended range electric vehicles such as the Volt are a new concept. As production of the Volt nears, what needs to be done to prepare the public for it?

• Whenever we launch a vehicle, there is an intensive effort with our dealers to train both on the sales and service side. This will require an intensive effort in that regard. And then I would say we need to have excellent tools online, because let’s face it, no matter the age of customers today, everyone’s online.

• The Chevrolet Cruze compact car will make its debut this year. What’s its place in the Chevrolet lineup?

• I think the Cruze has the ability to bridge two customer bases, both modern families who need a vehicle in the subcompact size, or the youth, particularly as we bring a turbocharged EcoTec engine with great fuel economy and performance. The Cruze is a vehicle that can bridge both the youth target and the young family, absolutely.

• Is GM working with utility companies to get ready for the release of the Volt?

• We’re working with utility companies to bring them on board early so they can help us provide the best ownership experience to consumers as far as recharging their vehicles and using the infrastructure. If (consumers) want to use the plug in their garage they can do it, but if they want to upgrade to a 240-volt outlet they could do that as well. And then how much infrastructure do we need beyond people’s homes? That’s why we’re working with some of these utility companies: to prepare.

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