General Motors Corp. Friday said that strong public interest in the Chevrolet Volt would lead to a 50 percent increase in Volt production capacity in the United States.
GM said it would boost Volt production capacity from 30,000 units a year to 45,000 units in 2012.
The Volt is a range-extended electric car. It has a small gasoline engine onboard to recharge its electric batteries. It can go 40 miles in all-electric mode, and another 300 miles between gasoline fill-ups with its charging motor running.
The announcement came as U.S. President Barack Obama toured the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, where the Volt is being produced now for sale later this year.
“The Chevrolet Volt provides drivers with the latest technology, outstanding innovation, and something no other electric vehicle can provide — peace of mind,” said Edward E. Whitacre, Jr., GM chairman and CEO. “We are very proud to host the President of the United States at this plant, where the future of the American automobile industry is being built today by the men and women of General Motors.”
The expanded U.S. production capacity is the latest in a series of positive developments for the Volt. Last week, participating Chevrolet dealers in launch markets began taking customer orders for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, following the release of retail and lease pricing. The brand also recently announced unprecedented battery and vehicle limited warranties to bring value and peace of mind to Volt customers. And the number of U.S. launch markets for the vehicle recently was raised from three to seven. In the past few weeks, more than 25,000 people have joined the Chevrolet Volt enthusiast list.
The Detroit-Hamtramck plant received $336 million in new investment to prepare for production of the Volt, part of more than $700 million GM has invested in eight Michigan sites to support Volt production since 2008. This includes a 33,000 square-foot battery systems lab in Warren; a battery assembly plant in Brownstown Township; and supporting engine and stamping operations in Grand Blanc, Bay City, and three plants in Flint.
Besides direct GM jobs, the Volt has helped spur additional supplier employment and investment. Earlier this month, battery cell supplier LG Chem-Compact Power Inc. broke ground on a $300 million, 650,000 square-foot plant in Holland to support Volt production, creating 400 jobs. In addition, the Volt helped start an electrification trend. Since its debut in January 2007, other automakers have announced 30 plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles.
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