Chevy Volt gets reality check, like maybe its own TV show?

James Raia

Clever 30-second television ads during the Super Bowl and other major telecasts are fine, and General Motors will return next month with spots for the biggest one-day event in sport.

Sponsorship of pro sports is fine, too. General Motors is back this season sponsoring the PGA Tour after ending its relationship with embattled Tiger Woods, then world’s top-ranked player, as its spokesman for Buick.

But GM has bigger plans. According to Steve Tihanyi, GM’s director of sports and entertainment, the carmaker is seeking to capitalize on the increasing popularity of reality TV. Chevy Volt gets reality check, like maybe its own TV show? 1

According to a Reuters interview with Tihanyi at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, GM is in discussion with a reality TV producer about the inclusion of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid in a still-in-development program.

The Volt, the much-promoted mainstay of GM environmental automotive technology, went on sale late last year in select markets.

“We’re really getting aggressive in the entertainment space,” said Tihanyi. “It’s really going into a whole new arena for us. Rather than just a sponsorship mind-set, it’s actually having an equity position in things.”

General Motors went through a government-led bankruptcy reorganization in 2009 and returned as a publicly traded company in November.

Industry experts estimate GM spent $180 million to $185 million on sponsorships in 2009. In the previous three years, GM spent a combined $230 million to $250 million on sponsorships, with about half for NASCAR auto racing and other motorsports.

In addition to the PGA Tour, GM remains a major presence with NASCAR. It also sponsorship deals with the National Football League, Major League Baseball and numerous individual sports teams.

Article Last Updated: January 13, 2011.

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