GM's Larry Burns: ''We are spending more each year on technology.''
But Larry Burns, GM's vice president for r&d and strategic planning, says the company's restructuring will not derail its plans to offer commercially viable vehicles powered by hydrogen. Neither will the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of Delphi Corp., GM's largest supplier, Burns says.
GM's goal is to have fuel cell vehicles ready by the end of the decade.
"We have to spend every penny as smartly as we can," Burns told Automotive News. But "we are spending more each year on technology."
Despite GM's need to cut costs dramatically, company executives and directors still support the expensive effort to develop petroleum-free, pollution-free vehicles, Burns says.
GM's planned elimination of 25,000 North American jobs will focus almost exclusively on production, not research, he adds.
The latest GM fuel cell-powered car is called Sequel. It was to be ready for test drives by automotive journalists and others in December. But GM has pushed that schedule forward to June, Burns says.
"We just had to retime some of our spending in 2005 in light of our losses as a company," Burns says. "But that didn't slow the technology down."
Delphi's bankruptcy filing is unlikely to have a significant impact on GM's fuel cell work, Burns says.
"I can't say with 100 percent certainty that we don't have some Delphi-based components that would be part of our system," he says, "But we've got a pretty broad supply base," he says.
Fuel cell technology requires many newly developed components and advanced materials, Burns notes, adding that half of GM's fuel cell suppliers are not traditional automotive parts companies.
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