IBM Jolts GM's Volt

DURHAM, N.C. ( TheStreet) -- Before news broke of General Motors' IPO, the Chevy Volt tour arrived this week in Durham, N.C., where it was enthusiastically greeted by employees at IBM's ( IBM) Research Triangle Park complex.

The Volt is "the next step in the transformation of our company," declared Micky Bly, GM's executive director of global electrical systems, who represented the automaker in Durham. The car has the potential to instantly place GM and Chevrolet among the leaders in the move away from gasoline-dependency.

In advance of its imminent introduction in dealerships, the Volt is on a 12-city tour that has taken it from Seattle to San Diego to Texas and Florida. It stopped in Durham on its way north to New York, where it will arrive on Friday.

Several hundred IBM employees gathered for the event. About 150 folks test-drove the car, which can run 25 to 40 miles on a battery and then about 300 more on an engine, powered by a gasoline powered generator that makes electricity. The gas tank holds 9.3 gallons of gas.

The enthusiasm in Durham was no surprise, given that IBM is a major supplier to the Volt, a product of complex new technology developed in just 29 months. The short development timeline, laid out by former General Motors executive Robert Lutz, meant that suppliers had to play a major role. "We had to cooperate like we haven't done in decades," Bly said.

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