When GM Spokesman Rob Peterson outlined key marketing strategies Chevrolet is employing with the Volt at the EDTA conference a few weeks ago, the fourth point he said was, “last, but definitely not least.”

He titled it, “Managing expectations of both our products but also the EV movement itself.”


Matt Stehouwer is one person who knows what to expect from his Chevrolet Volt. Peterson acknowledged him for having flown into New York during a snowstorm to buy the car, then drive it home to Lansing, Mich.

Peterson said this is a defensive measure – and a necessary one – given the number of critics and other antagonists postured against the Volt and EVs in general.

Managing Expectations

“Most importantly, our greatest opportunity isn’t an opportunity to actually move the football past the goal line. It’s an opportunity to make sure that we don’t lose any ground,” Peterson said. “This is very important. There’s no question that our industry – this movement, EVs – is in the cross hairs of people that want to challenge the relevance of electric vehicles.”

GM’s intentions to build on the Voltec platform are seen as holding no water by those who are moved by a different agenda, Peterson said.

“There are groups out there – pundits and detractors – who desperately want to see this not succeed. I don’t want to say fail, they just don’t want to see it succeed,” Peterson said, “They will go to great lengths to try and challenge the success of what we’re trying to achieve here. We can’t do anything about it, quite frankly, except to protect our ground, but what we can do is make sure that we that we manage our expectations, and customers in the industry and of our dealer force appropriately.”

He highlighted some of the items on GM’s Voltec preparation to-do list.

“These are things such as making sure that we fully optimize our infrastructure; making sure that the understanding of the utilities and how utilities will work with charging in garages, and making sure that our production guides [are properly communicated to the public],” Peterson said.


Chevrolet Vice President U.S. Marketing Rick Scheidt holds the 2011 World Green Car award for the Chevrolet Volt at the New York International Auto Show Thursday, April 21, 2011 in New York City.

On this last topic, Peterson noted some of the flak and misunderstanding GM has had to contend with from some in the media.

“For us at General Motors, our product plans 10,000 units this year. We have a great deal of demand but we don’t have the supply, but we continually get challenged by media and others that, ‘your sales aren’t enough,’” he said, “Our sales are exactly where we want them to be.”

The need to qualify some of the realities of production EVs is also there, Peterson said.

“And then performance. There are certain elements of battery electric vehicles that physics dictates and we can’t overcome,” he said, “We need to make sure that we appropriately communicate the challenges and that we educate our customers, and we educate the media and those alike, so that they understand what those are – because there are significant benefits that people want to overlook in order to keep us in the cross hairs.”

GM's intention to lose nothing gained, he said, includes holding onto its marketing point number one – building strategic relationships , as well as points number two and three pertaining to customer testimonials , which we featured earlier, and he summarized once more.

“So managing expectations. It’s not the high point. We have other things that we can do to tell our story. But the last thing we want to do is lose any ground that we’ve gained already,” he said, “So from a Chevrolet perspective, again, four areas of marketing that we’re looking at as we go forward: Relationships, we need to continue to build them throughout the industry. And we need to continue to build them as we launch this vehicle; make sure the customer ownership experience remains satisfying – above satisfactory, in fact, closer to remarkable.”


Rob Peterson (L, facing), and Tony Posawatz (R, profile seated) are a dynamic team representing the Volt.

Sharing plausible testimonials is core to accelerating EV proliferation, he said.

“And our ownership stories, and the people that have the passion and credibility – that their stories will be heard and shared, and that we properly manage the expectations of everybody that’s interested in electric vehicles,” Peterson said, “If we can do these four things successfully going forward, we have the chance to move this segment into the mainstream much faster.”

As he wrapped up, Peterson reiterated GM’s dedication to ushering in a new paradigm.

“We obviously at General Motors are very committed to electric vehicles. I think we have proven to those detractors and doubters who questioned our commitment in 2007,” Peterson said, “We’ve obviously invested significantly in bringing the Volt to market, but we’ve also invested significantly in the development of electric vehicle technology that will bring other electric vehicles to market as well. So this is of great interest to our company, and obviously to the other panelists here.”