As GM rebuilds its balance sheet and reputation, the president of GM North America says the Volt and pending Cadillac ELR will help its overarching mission as “technical halo” vehicles.

The occasion was a recent talk in Southern California to the Motor Press Guild, in which Mark Reuss focused on Chevrolet positioning its entire vehicle portfolio into a stalwart contender in the critical California market.

For GM, the Volt represents a comparative trickle of sales, and while these are expected to grow, Inside Line reports Reuss said a key role for the Volt is as a showroom lure.


The Volt fits right in with other environmentally sound transportation.

"People want to see the Volt. Not everyone wants to buy a Volt," he said, explaining some Chevy customers in a down economy cannot afford a $40,000-plus car (before incentives).

But after they admire the Volt, Reuss said, they may hang around, gravitate to a Cruze, take a test ride, and buy it.

He said GM could foresee a similar scenario for the recently announced Cadillac ELR , which is to be based on the Converj concept. Reuss said this will be “a beautiful car,” and should lend appeal to the Cadillac brand and sales of other Cadillacs.

Readers of GM-Volt have already heard of the “halo” tag pinned on the Volt – and now before its launch the ELR – and such statements delivered shortly after news of GM's conservative plan to release no new Voltec models through 2015 may be disconcerting.

While some would like to see more Voltec models sooner, the upside is the Volt is here to stay, and Reuss said GM intends to make Chevrolet once again into an “iconic brand” in California, and the rest of the country.

Inside Line wrote: “Reuss showed more than a little disgust for ‘decades of excuses’” from GM as to why it lost the preeminence in the “sovereign nation” of California.

This market is a linchpin to the company’s nationwide success, Reuss said, and GM forfeited its place due to “arrogance around competition” as well as misunderstanding how an automaker must every day be on its toes.

"Pretending we'll be OK if we sell trucks in the Midwest and South?" he said. "It's scary, looking back on it. You can't be a successful automaker selling bad products to people and thinking you can get away with it."

Without saying more about truck plans, Reuss cast California as a small-car sales battleground, and Chevrolet will be banking on sales of some of the new models the Volt will help attract.


The new Sonic is one of several new Chevrolets with a lot of hope riding on it.

"If we don't play here, if we don't grow here, we can't compete," Reuss said, as he spoke of a renaissance for Chevrolet.

Vehicles that Chevrolet will be counting on include the chart-leading Cruze, new Sonic , Spark minicar, 2013 Malibu, and pending 2014 Impala.

"We want to re-establish Chevrolet as an automotive icon," he said, noting by 2014, these cars will comprise an all-new lineup, with the (now new) Cruze being the oldest.

Additional opportunity, Reuss said, is that today there is a whole new crop of buyers with no anti-Chevrolet “baggage.”

"We want to make this generation fall in love with Chevrolet," Reuss said.

Shooting for the under-30 demographic, Reuss essentially said the new Sonic represents a genuine chance to make Chevrolet again look cool.

Among GM's marketing plans include partnering with an MTV creative team called MTV Scratch, and the other day Automotive News reported Chevrolet will feature TV spots this month of the Sonic bungee jumping and skydiving.

Whatever it takes, right?

Another core aspect of the new GM’s strategy, Reuss said, revolves around a standard of customer service expected today, and therefore seen as vital for the company and all its employees to master.

"We're going to treat people right," Reuss said. "There's no silver bullet. It's rolling up your sleeves on a daily basis."

He said the company will empower its employees to be customer-centric, and, "No one will get in trouble for doing what they think is the right thing for the customer," he said.


Cadillac Converj concept upon which the ELR will be based.

Reuss's demeanor was described as “confident, but far from smug,” as GM sees a way to continue progressing in the long term, which no doubt the Voltec line will be a part of.

He said nothing more about when to expect the Cadillac ELR, nor did he say more about plans for the Volt.

His progress report was of the big picture, and of that, he said GM is now a "revenue-generating, customer-focused company."

Edmunds Inside Line .

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Web Chat

The Chevrolet Volt team will be hosting another Web chat today at 2:30 p.m. EDT.

Britta Gross, the director of EV infrastructure for General Motors will join Jim Motavalli, author of the upcoming book "High Voltage" for a chat about electric vehicles. It's open to everybody and Chevrolet says, "we hope you can join us."

Chevrolet Volt Web chat with Britta Gross and Jim Motavalli