As its Chief Executive went before Congress to plea for financial help, General Motors gave NBC Los Angeles an exclusive first look at what it hopes will be its future -- the Chevrolet Volt.
The Volt can run for 40 miles exclusively on electricity before an internal combustion engine kicks in, separating it from most hybrid models now available, including Toyota's popular Prius. The car has been redesigned after the concept car was introduced in 2007. The production model will be unveiled to the public at the Greater Los Angeles Auto show this week. Designer Bob Bonaface says the Volt "is the car that's going to save not just GM, but the entire industry."
In the meantime, GM needs a lot of cash to continue working on the Volt and maintaining a company that's losing $2 billion a month. CEO Rick Wagoner went before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday to plea for up to $25 billion in loans. Critics say GM's fate should be tied to the free market, but the Volt's vehicle line director Tony Posawatz argues that "ideally the free market is a powerful thought process but there's a lot of jobs and a lot of economic fallout in place and I think we should be big enough to get beyond that."
GM says it abandoned the two-seater EV-1 electric car in 1999 because it was cost-prohibitive. It says the Volt is a dramatic improvement.