Weingarten, the Volt and Me

Over the last two years I’ve watched my father, an automotive engineer who toiled in the Metro Detroit area for ~40 years selling parts and systems to the Big Three, negotiate and produce a job he admits is the most complex of his career.

His company supplies the motors that circulate the coolant around the Volt’s batteries, which are uncommon because they are required to be on continuously for the entire lifetime of the car: when it’s running, when it’s charging, until it fails.

The process has been fraught with uncertainty. They’ve been at the job through the GM bankruptcy, through the ups and downs of the economy, designing, prototyping, negotiating, testing, retesting. All the while, it’s still a paradox to me as to how you engineer and test something in four years so it’s designed to last for 40.

It’s his last big project before he retires. And I’m sure there are a lot more folks like him attached to the car, Boomers who have invested an uncommonly large amount of personal pride and care in developing it thinking “this one will be different.” People who know it could be the biggest revolution in American auto manufacturing in recent history.

So it makes me really happy and grateful to read someone like Gene W start skeptical and experience the bits of delight and wonder that can change your heart. I can’t wait to drive one, because I know it’ll make me happy and hopeful too.

Gene and the Machine: The shocking truth about the electric Volt.