UT alum delivers lecture on GM’s Volt, OnStarWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Toledo alum Jeffrey Liedel returned to his alma mater to give a guest lecture on GM’s new Volt electric car and the OnStar response system before an audience of about 100 people Dec. 3.
Liedel, chief information officer for OnStar at General Motors, drove the Volt equipped with the OnStar system from Detroit to Toledo. He exhibited the electric car and plugged it in for recharging outside Nitschke Hall on the UT campus.
Volt has an electric driving range of up to 50 miles with range extending, gas-driven electric generator to power it. “It has to have alternative fuel in case it runs out of juice,” Liedel said.
“With Volt and the communications capabilities of OnStar, you can be found wherever you are,” Liedel said. “We put a lot of technology into the Volt but we’ve just scratched the surface with technology.”
Liedel said GM is working on united communications technology that will allow hands-free telephone calls, e-mails, conferencing and text messaging online in vehicles, making use of technology safer in cars.
“We’re working on that stuff and making a lot of progress,” he told the audience at UT.
“People buy Volt because they want that kind of car and to operate that car at a lower cost,” he said.
Chevy’s Volt was chosen 2010 Car of the Year by Motor Trend and Automobile magazines and as Green Car of the Year at the LA Auto Show, Liedel said.
However, the Volt is in limited production by GM and only being offered on the East and West coasts, in Michigan and Texas at this time. It may be another year and a half before it’s offered in Ohio, according to Joe Malin, general manager of Dave White Chevrolet in Sylvania.
Malin said there would be a limited market for Volt and recommended that anyone interested in purchasing one should contact a Chevrolet dealership in the metropolitan Detroit area.
Liedel said GM is developing technology that will give customers more information on OnStar.
He reported that GM is active with blogs and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter with the potential of reaching 500 million active users.
“The commercialization of technology has changed the way we engage customers, dealers and employees. We’re only limited by our imagination,” he said.
In addition to his lecture, Liedel also spent time speaking with UT engineering students about the OnStar Student Development Challenge to create original voice-enabled applications.
Liedel graduated from UT in 1988 with a degree in computer science and engineering. He grew up in Monroe, Mich., and graduated from Monroe High School.
He said he started his career on the manufacturing floor at Powertrain and assembly plants in the automotive industry for Ford and GM.
“We’ve had some difficult days at GM but achieved some recent milestones. We’re starting to see some results with three straight profitable quarters,” Liedel said.