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Uploaded:2009-06-02
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What does the GM Bankruptcy mean for green cars and the environment. Will GM focus on more efficient vehicles now? Or will the financial troubles bring the axe down on their most progressive programs?
Hank Green: Hi, this is Hank Green from EcoGeek.org, and today, we're gonna talk a little bit about GM and what the bankruptcy means for the future of green cars.  Like, about 4 years ago, I would have said that the bankruptcy of General Motors would be a really good thing for green cars, 'cause GM to me was Hummers and SUVs and pretty much no hybrid cars.  

But, as soon as GM got its act together and started thinking about having some fuel efficient cars in its line-up, boom, they're goin' out of business.  So first, let's talk a little bit about what General Motors is.  Up until very recently, General Motors was, I think, eight total brands, Saab, Hummer, Saturn, Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Chevrolet, and Opal.  A lot of car companies!  And now, they're just going to be four: GMC, which is the trucks, the big trucks, Cadillac, the premium fancy expensive cars, Buick, I don't even know what Buick does, and Chevrolet, which is responsible for the vast majority of GM's sales.  The one green car that is definitely dead as a result of GM's financial difficulty is the plug-in hybrid Saturn View.  

Now, everyone's just sorta forgotten about the plug-in hybrid View, I was excited about it, but nobody else was.  But, yeah, Saturn's gonna be dissolved completely, so the plug-in hybrid View is not going to happen.  According to GM's press release that I got this morning, their new focus will be on fuel efficient cars, of course!  Fuel efficient cars and the Camaro, unless you consider the Camaro a fuel-efficient muscle car, which you kind of could, only in that particular category.  Speaking of excellent cars for that category, the Chevrolet Equinox, an SUV, fits in very well with that idea.  The new Chevy Equinox will be an SUV that peaks at 32 miles per gallon, which is pretty dang impressive.  But of course, what I'm most excited about in terms of GM's future plans is the Chevrolet Cruise.  Finally General Motors will have a car that can compete with the Honda Civic.  And of course, the range extended electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt.  

Now, in the wake of the bankruptcy of General Motors, there's been a lot of discussion about what's going to happen to the Volt.  It's not exactly a car that fits into the model of the ultra streamlined General Motors.  This is a very expensive car that is not going to make money for General Motors.  They're gonna be selling these things for $40,000 a piece, and they're not gonna be making very much, if any, money on them.  Now, this is the model that Toyota took with the Prius, and everybody said that they were crazy, but for christ's sake, it obviously worked.  The question is, will it work for the Chevrolet Volt?  And so there's been a lot of analysts who have been criticizing GM, just like people criticized Toyota, saying that they shouldn't be making cars that aren't going to make money.

Of course, this is absolutely insane.  You've gotta drive technology forward somehow, and if you only do it in ways that are definitely going to make you the maximum amount of money, you're going to take very small and slow steps, which is what GM did for 30 years.  And look what it got them!  GM says that the Chevy Volt is still on track for release in late 2010, despite the fact that nobody really knows what's going to be going on with the company then.  But my friends, this is good news, because if they can actually get this car out, it is going to be the greenest mass-market car in America.  

The big question in my mind is 'what is the new normal going to be after this economic crisis is over?'  Are we going to be excited about spending the money we've saved on new cars, or is America going to have a new, more limited, and frankly, better relationship with its transportation infrastructure?  Because it seems to me, maybe now we'll have a better idea of how much we need to drive, how many cars we need to have, and whether or not we need to blow it all a brand new one.  And if that's the case, that's going to be very bad news for the United States government who now owns a controlling interest in General Motors.  

That is the GM bankruptcy from EcoGeek's standpoint.  You can find out more at EcoGeek.org, or follow us at Twitter.com/EcoGeek.