GM's top electric car exec quits
Key in work on Volt, battery technology, Kruse leaves to start own
The Detroit News
Bob Kruse, who recently led a critical Chevrolet Volt team and devised
the automaker's long-term electric vehicle strategy, has resigned months
before the vehicle's debut, The Detroit News has learned.
Kruse's resignation, effective today, comes at a crucial time for
General Motors Co., which is banking on the Volt to change public
perceptions of the company and also help meet stringent new fuel rules.
Kruse, 50, executive director of global vehicle engineering for hybrids,
electric vehicles and batteries since early 2008, left to start his own
consulting company, E V Consulting LLC. He will provide automotive and
vehicle electrification expertise for companies looking to seize a piece
of more than $1.3 billion in federal grants available to Detroit's Big
Three automakers and the state.
"My departure from General Motors has nothing to do with my view of the
future success for the Volt," Kruse said on Tuesday. "I've left on very
good terms. I have a lot of respect for the leadership of General Motors."
But, he added: "I'm not going to lie. Are they happy about my departure?
GM said the extended range electric Volt remains on target for
production in November 2010 and stressed that Volt battery testing was
under way when Kruse was promoted. The team is largely responsible for
designing and testing the Volt's lithium-ion battery. Kruse's team also
focused on integrating the battery into the vehicle, and he developed
GM's battery and electric vehicle strategy beyond the Volt.
The company will soon have 80 pre-production Volt vehicles on the roads.
"There's no good time to lose good people," GM spokesman Rob Peterson
said. "But that said, the Volt team goes way beyond one person."
Kruse's move is understandable given the amount of federal money
available, cuts imposed on white-collar workers and retirees by GM and
government restrictions on executive pay, said analyst Joe Phillippi of
Auto Trends Consulting Inc. in Short Hills, N.J.
"You can't blame the guy," Phillippi said. "What is the prospect of ever
making serious money...working for a ward of the government, where your
pay is capped?"
The defection likely will have a minimal impact on the Volt launch, said
Kevin Riddell, manager of powertrain forecasting for J.D. Power and
"While GM could suffer in the near term, I think the turnaround will be
very quick," he said. "The main reason is there are a bunch of talented
people there. I don't think it's really a factor. People come and go all
Kruse's successor is Micky Bly, who was involved early on with the Volt
program and has experience with hybrid/electric vehicles.
The Volt will let commuters travel up to 40 miles on electric power.
The engine kicks in after its battery is drained by about 70 percent to
sustain the battery's remaining charge to keep the car running for
several hundred miles.
GM is receiving about $241 million in federal grants, including $106
million for its planned battery pack assembly factory in Brownstown
The resignation ends a 31-year career at GM during which the Rochester
Hills resident rose from a co-op student in the Buick Motor division to
leading engineers working on implementing hybrid, extended range
electric vehicles and advanced battery technology.
Kruse said he decided to leave after Vice President Joe Biden's
announcement Aug. 5 that Michigan and Detroit's Big Three automaker's
would receive more than $1.3 billion of $2.4 billion in federal grants
to support the next generation of batteries and electric vehicles.
A week later, on Aug. 13, Kruse formed E V Consulting to advise clients
with projects that would qualify for the federal aid.
He already has a client, which he would not identify, and said he would
not rule out consulting with GM.
"I'm very bullish and upbeat on the Volt and its prospects," he said.
But right now, "my dance card is full," he said.