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GM Invests $449 Million In Next Chevrolet Volt and Variants

DETROIT - Over the next two years, General Motors will spend $449 million to upgrade and retool its Detroit-Hamtramck Chevrolet Volt assembly plant in preparation for the next-generation Volt and the addition of two models new to the plant. The money will also be used to expand GM's Brownstown, Michigan, lithium-ion battery assembly plant. The Hamtramck facility, which also builds the very low-volume Opel Ampera and the Cadillac ELR in addition to supplementing Chevy Malibu and Impala production, will get $384 million of GM's investment. The other $65 million is slated for the Brownstown plant. GM North America Manufacturing Vice President Gerald Johnson made the announcement at the Automotive Press Association luncheon alongside Michigan governor Rick Snyder and Detroit mayor Mike Duggan.

The announcement indicates that a new Chevrolet Volt will be launched in time for the 2016 or 2017 model year. Johnson declined to give any details on the new car or the two new products slated for Hamtramck or, for that matter, whether production of the conventionally powered Malibu/Impala will remain at the factory. He said it's too early to talk about the possibility of hiring additional workers for the plant or adding a second shift.

"We expect the markets to tell us what to do," Johnson replied. He was upbeat about the popularity of GM's Voltec technology, even as Chevrolet Volt sales settled in at just 23,094 units in the U.S. last year.

"Volt customers today are some of the most satisfied customers in the industry," Johnson said. "My wife is part of that 'Volt cult.' I've seen the next new Volt, and we're going to build on that."

Although the governor and the mayor appeared at the APA luncheon as cheerleaders to GM's announcement, "[GM has] not asked for any incentives relative to this investment," Duggan said.

While there's speculation that the new products could include a new body style or possibly a variant of the Voltec's green powertrain, one source says the new models for Hamtramck will consist of a couple of Cadillac models, including the XTS. The Oshawa, Ontario, plant that builds the Cadillac XTS is scheduled to close in the summer of 2016, at the end of that model year. Hamtramck was the assembly plant for the front-wheel-drive Cadillac DTS when Chevrolet Volt production began there in late 2010.

The second-generation Chevrolet Volt is expected to migrate from its current Delta GM compact platform to one dedicated to the extended-range electric powerplant technology, while costing less and providing greater pure-electric range.