Chevy Volt was going to save Detroit. Now its workers are losing jobs

I can’t stop thinking about the launch of the Chevrolet Volt.

That car was my life for months. I covered post-bankruptcy General Motors for the Detroit Free Press — chronicling one company all day, every day. Sometimes all night. That’s how important GM was to our city.

In December 2010, I traveled to snowy New Jersey to watch a real estate agent buy the first Volt. The people I met along the way were effusive in their expectations for the car. “Futuristic.” “Comeback kid.” “A signal.” “The premier car for General Motors.”

The Volt, an electric car with a backup engine for long trips, was supposed to revitalize GM. Show the world Detroit could create revolutionary technology, compete with Asian automakers, produce something besides gas-guzzling SUVs. Prove the government-backed bailout had been worth it.

In many ways, the Volt also was supposed to save Detroit. The company’s last plant within the Motor City’s limits would build the vehicle.