Michael Robinson

Vice president, environment, energy and safety policy, General Motors

Seventy-five percent of Americans travel less than 40 miles per day, but they worry about range. So the Volt is an attempt to provide people with most-of-the-time, all-battery experience but with the knowledge that if they run low on a charge, they’re not going to depend on public infrastructure to be able to keep operating. They can drive up to 380 miles or so.

If people feel they have to make sacrifices to drive these vehicles, it’s not going to be successful. They want to have fun with the vehicle, and they want to feel like they’re being responsible at the same time. I call it like fat-free or guilt-free cheesecake.

We’ve all struggled with how do we build one car for the entire country, one truck for the entire country, and not have to worry about multiple layers of regulation that are at odds with one another.

How do you get past the fact that there isn’t a comprehensive national energy policy at work? These technologies are incredibly expensive. I don’t see anybody doing this, quite frankly, to the cost structure of any any other industry other than the auto industry.

Our commitment is to help reduce dependency on petroleum, whether foreign or domestic, improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. We’re going to get there in multiple ways. We talk about the electric vehicle as if it were the Holy Grail. In some respects, it is, ultimately, but in the meantime, we know we’re going to need gasoline.