General Motors, the Detroit-based automaker behind the Chevrolet Volt, Vauxhall Ampera and their luxury sibling the Cadillac ELR, is expected to announce a massive $450 million investment in its plug-in car program.
The announcement, due tomorrow, will herald a massive expansion at both the Detroit-Hamtramck facility where the extended-range electric cars are made as well as the Brownstown Township battery assembly facility, said The Detroit News (via GreenCarReports).
According to sources close to the automaker, the investment is expected to focus on battery technology ahead of the debut of the next-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt. Expected to be far more efficient than the existing Volt, which can travel between 30 and 40 miles per charge in normal conditions, the second-generation Volt will likely be an evolutionary rather than revolutionary change from the original Volt, which debuted in 2010.
Talking last year, GM CEO Dan Akerson said that his goal was to improve the range of the second-generation Volt to give it electric-only capabilities of at least 50 miles, but at the time of writing, it’s unclear if that kind of range increase will manifest in the 2016 model.
Tomorrow’s official statement is also expected to herald the creation of some 1,400 jobs at the Detroit-Hamtramck facility, currently the only place in the world where the Volt, Ampera and ELR are made. At the moment, these three cars — along with the Chevrolet Malibu — are made on a single production line with one shift. The new jobs will most likely allow Detroit-Hamtramck to open up a second shift, dramatically increasing production output to meet growing plug-in vehicle demand worldwide.
Another possibility rumored to be taking place is the inclusion of an all-new compact all-electric model of similar size to the Volt. While Chevrolet currently sells the Spark EV hatchback in the U.S., it is actually made in South Korea and then shipped to the U.S.
Based on Volt technology, analysts suspect this could be GM’s first long-range EV with a battery pack capable of producing up to 200 miles of range per charge. U.S. made for the U.S. market, it could give Nissan’s all-electric LEAF — which is also expected to undergo a model refresh next year for the 2016 model year — tough competition in the marketplace.
Naturally, we’ll know more tomorrow when the official announcement is made, but for now it certainly looks as if GM is increasing its investment in plug-in hybrid and all-electric drive technology, something which can only be good for plug-in car fans worldwide.
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