With electrical systems, you get polarized

General Motors’ extravaganza unveiling of the 2010 Chevrolet Volt – or at least a self-propelled mule – was another terrific stunt during the specific 100th anniversary date of the automaker.

And while the GM Volt festival of leaks is perhaps way too much ado about a vehicle still 26 months from launch, we have to admit that GM has us all talking about the Volt.

But the most amazing aspect is that so many of us have very strong opinions about a vehicle still being designed. We’ll argue the merits of a car we haven’t driven, and sometimes even toss insults at those who disagree with us. The vehicle won’t be sold until November 2010 and we are, well, polarized into opposing camps.

Automotive News Editor David Sedgwick’s Wednesday column on a new element of the plug-in hybrid’s mechanical make-up was greeted with full spectrum of comment.

Sedgwick wrote about a new detail GM mentioned: the battery that provides the 40-mile all-electric range won’t be recharged by the car’s engine, but only by plugging it into an external electrical source. Beyond the 40 miles, you can drive the car as long as you have gasoline and the engine will power the electrical system but not recharge the battery to the level needed for electrical-only operation. Combined with a potential price of $40,000, he thought it would appeal to a relatively small segment.

But some writers react strongly. Dealermaker says “I agree with Sedgwick completely” and adds the key is “How much will they pay?”

In contrast, another writer asks “how did you get to be editor?” and questions the need to question something that would not be a problem for most people.

Similarly, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz is himself perceived in black and white, with comments ranging from comparing his words to manure spreading (I’m being gentle here) to thanking him for “being true to his beliefs and instincts over the years.”

So what makes the Volt produce such strong positions? Is it the car’s importance to GM? Is it a pivotal shift from mechanical systems to electrical systems for automobiles? If you can tell me, please post a comment. I want to know what you think.

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