GM to use plastic from oil spill

Chevrolet Volt Color matched Pictures, Images and Photos

GM says that it will use oil covered plastic boom that was used in the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. The plastic was destined to be incinerated, but GM says that it will recycle it and use it to make parts for their new electric car, the Chevy Volt. Without a doubt, the main reason for doing this is marketing. GM hopes that this will create goodwill with the segment of the population that cares deeply about the environment. This segment is essentially the same as their target market for the Volt, which is a much more eco-friendly consumer that is willing to pay a higher price tag.

This strategy can be very successful for GM if they manage and execute it properly. If they do this then they will have an advantage over the Nissan Leaf which will enter the market around the same time as the Chevy Volt, but is 100% electric, unlike the Volt which has a backup gasoline engine. It will also give them a nice publicity push to help compete against the Toyota Prius right out of the gate.

However, if they do not handle the obvious concerns that such a strategy will raise, then it can hurt them badly. The first thing you think of when you hear that a car will be made partially of recycled plastic parts from an oil spill is if the quality will be compromised. GM has to educate the public and make it crystal clear that the plastic will end up being state of the art quality and 100% equivalent to new plastic parts that they would order from a traditional auto sector supplier. Otherwise, concerns about the Chevy Volt’s quality will overshadow the positives of the new model and will remind people that not long ago, GM had quality issues company-wide. It will be interesting to see how much GM mentions these plastic parts and if they focus on showing that it makes for a good product as well as an eco-friendly one.