It’s only four months since General Motors announced that it was upping production of its 2011 Volt to meet the strong consumer demand for its first full-scale production plug-in vehicle, but now the automaker has said it will be undertaking a series of upgrades to its Detroit-Hamtramck factory to ensure that even more Volts hit the road this year.
The plug-in hybrid, which features an all-electric range of 35 miles and a total extended range of 379 using a combination of its battery pack and on-board gasoline-powered generator, was initially launched in select markets throughout the U.S. - but strong demand has prompted GM to move forward nationwide rollout plans to the end of this year.
In addition to U.S. market models, GM also plans to start selling the Volt and the Opel Ampera - the Volt’s rebadged european counterpart - in Canada, China and Europe by the end of this year.
2011 Chevrolet Volt with hood open, showing range extender engine and Voltec drive
Demand has been so overwhelming that GM will be shutting down its Volt production line for four weeks during June to install upgrades to the production lines.
The factory closure will also allow the Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan to be built alongside the Volt, intermingled on the same production line. That model is being added to fulfill the strong public demand for more fuel-efficient cars as gas prices soar.
Although the factory upgrades will ultimately be good news to those who are on the waiting list for the 2011 Volt, the up-coming closure combined with a drive to divert new Volts into dealerships as demonstration cars rather than private hands will create a severe shortage of Volts passing into private ownership for the next few months.
The dearth of cars will be short lived however, and GM promises it will be able to produce up to 16,000 Volts by the end of this year, upping production in 2012 to 60,000 total units of which 45,000 will be destined for the U.S. domestic market.