When Dream Cars Are Powered By Pipe Dreams

These days most automakers just don't have the money to put into developing dead-end ideas, but that has preventing them from doing so, like the Chrysler Patriot concept race car.

Published: 17-Jan-2007

THE front-page headline of The Detroit News last Monday blared “GM Powers Up” in letters of a size usually reserved for bulletins like “WAR ENDS.” For a day at least, General Motors owned industry bragging rights with its introduction of the Chevrolet Volt electric car at the North American International Auto Show. Investors were happy; G.M.’s stock price rose a bit.

There was, however, one problem: The Volt does not run. The batteries it requires to deliver the driving range and economy G.M. promised have not been developed. Granted, G.M. was candid about this shortcoming, and the Volt is at least as close to reality as many of the so-called concept cars that appeared at the show in the past.

So why do carmakers push ideas that don’t quite work, or innovations that aren’t quite finished, into the bright global spotlight of the annual auto show here?

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