Some changes are in store for General Motors’ plant in Hamtramck, Michigan. Not only is the facility receiving a bank of solar panels for power generation, but the entire facility will be shut down for four weeks this summer, allowing the automaker to tool up for both the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, while simultaneously adding extra capacity for the Chevrolet Volt and it’s European twin, the Opel Ampera.
According to GM, the plant will be shut down for four weeks starting in June, allowing workers to revamp a large portion of the plant to handle the new midsize sedan and boost production capacity for the plug-in hybrid Volt. Planned upgrades for the Volt/Ampera line include new tools, equipment, and new overhead conveyor components — all of which help the General crank out more Volts/Amperas for customers worldwide. This appears to be GM’s first priority with the revision; upgrades tied to Malibu production will continue to be applied even after Volt/Ampera production resumes.
The planned closure will temporarily reduce the already limited supply of Volts on dealer lots over the next three months, but it is expected to increase the supply to fulfill the demand long-term. The Volt has only been available in California, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C. at this time.
Still, when production resumes, the Volt will be able to be sold to a much larger audience. Cristi Landy, the director of Volt marketing, affirms the increased capacity is tied to the Volt’s nationwide roll-out (which should happen by the end of the year).
“By taking the time to reconfigure the plant, we will be better able to meet the tremendous consumer demand,” Landy said.
GM will begin exporting the Volt and Ampera to Europe and China once the plant is back online with increased production. GM expects a production capacity of 16,000 cars including exports and demo cars for U.S. dealers. By 2012 GM expects global production to be at 60,000 with three-fourths of those sold right here in the U.S.
Production of the new 2013 Malibu will begin next year once all of the upgrades have been completed. The Detroit-Hamtramck plant is presently building Volts while simultaneously winding down production of both the Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne.