New jobs and plant updates by carmakers often get little attention outside the towns involved, but sometimes they telegraph information about future models.
The Detroit News said Saturday that GM is expected to announce it will update its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, spending $450 million and adding 1,400 new jobs.
In this case, the car involved is an updated or redesigned Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car, which will likely launch for model year 2016.
The news, attributed to four "sources familiar with the automaker’s plan," adds a second shift at the assembly plant. It is the sole GM facility globally to build the Volt and also the Cadillac ELR that uses the same Voltec powertrain.
First 2011 Chevrolet Volt built on production tooling at Detroit Hamtramck plant, March 31, 2010
The Hamtramck plant also assembles Chevrolet Malibu mid-size sedans and Impala full-size sedans.
The $450 million investment is said to be "focused on battery technologies," though it's unclear whether any of that money will go to the Brownstown plant where General Motors now builds lithium-ion battery packs for the Volt and ELR.
Analysts suggest that a revised 2016 Volt will be unveiled at next January's Detroit Auto Show and go into production during the summer or fall of 2015.
An additional model, very possibly a battery-electric vehicle with 200 miles of range, may also be added to Hamtramck--though sources suggest that vehicle will lag the redesigned Volt by a year.
An updated 2016 Chevy Volt is expected to use a less expensive battery pack, and perhaps to have a somewhat greater electric range.
Dan Akerson, then GM's CEO, said last May that the main goal for the next Volt was to reduce its build cost by $10,000 while making the car profitable for GM to sell.
The official announcement is expected to occur tomorrow at an Automotive Press Association lunch in Detroit.
That city's mayor, Mike Duggan, is confirmed to be at the lunch, and Michigan governor Rick Snyder hopes to attend, according to the offices of each official.