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Tony Posawatz, Chevy Volt Product Line Director, Retires From GM

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Volt Line Director Tony Posawatz

Volt Line Director Tony Posawatz

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The Chevrolet Volt electric car, now in its third model year, has survived the bankruptcy and government-led restructuring of General Motors, politically motivated attacks on electric cars, a battery-safety investigation by the NHTSA, and some breathtakingly inept marketing efforts.

But many leaders of the team that created the Volt have moved on or out, and the latest to leave is vehicle line director Tony Posawatz, who retires from GM effective Sunday.

After the departure of lead engineer Frank Weber (who now runs BMW's plug-in vehicle programs), Posawatz was the most public member of the Volt product team--and always available to answers questions and educate consumers, media, and the rest of GM.

He brought enthusiasm, unflagging energy, and a genuine joie de vivre to the challenges of explaining the Volt, sketching the context for GM's first-ever plug-in vehicle sold to the public, and shepherding the car through final development, into the market, and onto the lots of dealers who often struggled with the new and pricey extended-range electric car.

Posawatz joined General Motors in 1980, continuing an unbroken string of family members at the company stretching back to 1957.

GM sent him to business school--he was the first member of his family to graduate from college at all--and he worked in a wide variety of jobs, from assembly-plant production foreman to financial management on car programs.

Before the Volt program, Posawatz was product chief on a very different vehicle: the 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche, the innovative (and very large and thirsty) four-door pickup truck with a mid-gate that extended the bed into the back of the cab when needed.

Both the 2010 Chevy Volt and the 2002 Avalanche truck won Car and Truck of the Year awards from Motor Trend magazine, which remains a much-prized distinction in Detroit.

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

In a note to colleagues last week, Posawatz wrote, "I can't think of a bettter way to end my career at GM than by safely landing the 'moonshot' better known as the Chevrolet Volt.  We may have finally "electrified the nation" and found a way to break the addiction to oil."

Posawatz said he will spend time with his family this summer and then begin planning his next steps.

Currently, he told Green Car Reports, he is unwinding near the ocean, reading, writing, thinking, and enjoying the activity and time with family.

He also noted that he hopes to make a final appearance at General Motors for "an epic farewell gathering" next month.

"I have no firm plans currently," he wrote, "but certainly many ideas." And he said he hopes to remain engaged in "developing the electrified transportation ecosystem and helping teams realize product innovations and business success."

We cover relatively few auto-industry personnel changes here at Green Car Reports, since car-company employees move often and executives increasingly move among companies too.

But we will miss Tony Posawatz, who spent more time with more skeptical journalists to explain the Chevrolet Volt than anyone at GM outside the long-suffering communications staff.

GM's loss may be another company's gain.

We wish Tony well, and look forward to learning where he surfaces next.

His note ended with a quote from famed Renaissance artist and engineer Michaelangelo:

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."

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Comments (6)
  1. The problem with the Volt all stems from the fact that the Volt itself was a politically motivated vehicle. It's sole purpose was to change the perception of GM in the minds of those greenies who had swallowed the nonsense that Chris Paine had managed to put on film. GM blatantly used the future of the Volt as a bargaining chip to obtain a bailout by the Feds, a bailout that not only wasn't needed (except by the UAW)but placed GM in no better position as a result. The Volt therefore only exists today because of politics - there was no massive consumer demand present, except for early on when GM had provided rosy price scenarios and a stylish car that people might actually want to
    own. The actual price and actual looks killed the Volt. Dead.
     
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  2. Its a car Kent, not a political statement... and its not running for office.. get over it all ready!
     
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  3. Always amusing to read the silliness spewed by those who don't believe in even basic research... Kent, do you understand what a timeline is? Apparently not, since the product development timing of the Volt doesn't support the ridiculous claims of you or the other conspiracy theorists out there. But, I know, facts are boring and not as much fun as silly conspiracy theories...

    As for the bailouts being unnecessary, perhaps you and Mr. Romney could end the mystery once and for all. What specific banks were offering loans to GM and Chrysler during the financial crisis? At what terms? Famous Republican and 2012 Romney supporter Bob Lutz was in GM's management and has stated many times that loans were not offered by even one bank. More nonsense.
     
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  4. @ Kent,

    I am tired of your silly comments. First, it was all the talk about WSU batteries which aren't all that impressive (seems like you have invested interest in them). Then, there is the bash on Volt. You are the one that is making the Volt a political object. Volt was a concept long before there was bailout or bankruptcy. Volt is the best bridging technology before there are full electric infrastures in place which will take years if not decades. Volt powertrain is exactly what I envisioned when I went to grad school. I am curious on what kind of "green" car you drive and what type of engineering/science degree that you have...
     
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  5. Slightly disturbing, actually (not Kent's note - this retirement). GM is on the cusp of new EREVs and other electrification. Why would the line manager for the Volt go off and retire? There were others leaving as well, going off to BMW and other firms. I want to see GM put out more cars like the Volt - maybe an electrified Equinox or Sonic or Cruze hybrid.

    Good luck Mr. P - but you look far too young to retire. Just ask Lutz :)
     
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  6. Well Done Posawatz!! Thanks to your efforts and those of the GM team, the Volt survived consistent and repeated attempts to make it into a political statement. The Volt is THE car for consumers hungry for a change. Whatever else happens GM will be remembered as having launched a electric way to break our economic addiction to oil. The Volt has given consumers a real choice !
     
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