E Pluribus Unum (“Out of many, one”)
—Motto on the Great Seal of the United States and on most U.S. coins
EXECUTIVES AT General Motors, the U.S. automobile giant, faced a dilemma. After skirting bankruptcy in the financial crisis and being forced to accept a U.S. government bailout, the company seemed on its way to full recovery. GM had been slow to develop a clean energy vehicle, but it now had the Chevrolet Volt, a nifty plug-in hybrid that relied on both batteries and a small gasoline-powered electric generator to extend its range to around 350 miles. GM was counting on the Volt to regain territory lost to Toyota’s pioneering hybrid Prius.