They were posted on the Internet for only 12 minutes, but General Motors Corp. says that was long enough for secret photos of the Chevrolet Volt rechargeable car to be distributed worldwide.
Photos of GM executives with a prototype of the car were inadvertently posted Monday on a site run by Dallas-based Wieck Media, which stores and posts electronic photos for GM, said Chevrolet spokesman Terry Rhadigan.
Several automotive Web sites grabbed the photos and posted them for all to see, even though GM quickly removed them, Rhadigan said.
“Even minutes later, you can’t pull it back,” he said. “That’s not quick enough in this Internet age.”
The photos, and perhaps the prototype itself, likely were slated for official release when GM celebrates its 100th anniversary Sept. 16.
“The plan was to release the photos when we unveil the car, and stay tuned on when that might be,” Rhadigan said.
Marty Padgett, editor of thecarconnection.com, was watching for the photos to appear in advance of GM’s centennial. When they appeared on a Wieck site, he grabbed them and reposted them.
“I downloaded them as quickly as I could and posted them since they appeared only with the ’production vehicle’ tag and nothing else,” Padgett said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
He said it’s possible GM intended to post the photos, or someone made a mistake.
“I know some sites that believe posting images to an internal firewalled server is enough. It’s not. When a human touches anything, the possibility of launching photos will be there,” Padgett wrote.
Rhadigan denied assertions that the company leaked the photos to generate more publicity for the Volt.
A message seeking comment was left at Wieck Media.
The photos show the Volt looking more like a conventional car than the low-slung, sleek concept car unveiled at the 2007 Detroit auto show.
The Volt is designed designed to run on an electric motor powered by a battery pack. Drivers will recharge it from a standard home wall outlet.
GM is testing new lithium-ion battery packs that will enable to Volt to travel 40 miles when fully charged. After that, a small gasoline engine will recharge the batteries to keep the car rolling at an equivalent of 150 miles per gallon.
The company says it will bring the car to market late in 2010. It’s expected to cost $30,000 to $40,000.