To Prep For Next-Gen Chevy Volt, General Motors Will Invest $450 Million, Add 1,400 Jobs

APR 7 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 43

Production of Chevy Volt in Hamtramck, Michigan

Production of Chevy Volt in Hamtramck, Michigan

This Tuesday, General Motors will formally announce plans to add 1,400 jobs and invest some $450 million into two sites directly tied to the Chevrolet Volt.  Those sites include the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant (manufacturing site for the Chevy Volt) and the Brownstown Township battery assembly facility.

Chevrolet Volt, Built In Hamtramck, Michigan

Chevrolet Volt, Built In Hamtramck, Michigan

The Detroit News cites “four sources familiar with the automaker’s plan” for this breaking information on General Motors’ massive investment plan.

As the Detroit News reports:

“The announcement is expected to include adding a second shift at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant and investing to build a redesigned plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt, according to sources. One source, who asked not to be identified because the plans have not been made public, said the second shift would be added next year. Another source said the investment also is focused on battery technologies.”

The official announcement will come on Tuesday during the Automotive Press Association lunch in Detroit.  Aside from members of the press, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and possibly even Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will be in attendance.

As of right now, General Motors only says that the topic of discussion will be its “ongoing investment to maintain its technology leadership.”

According to the Detroit News, Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly employs 1,600 workers and operates on a single shift.  It’s unclear at this time if the additional 1,400 employees will all be added at Detroit-Hamtramck or if some will be added to the Brownstown Township battery assembly facility.

Detroit-Hamtramck is the only production site for the Chevy Volt, Opel Ampera, Holden Volt and Cadillac ELR.  Additionally, Detroit-Hamtramck produces the Chevrolet Malibu and Impala.

It’s believed that a second shift will be added at Detroit-Hamtramck as production of the next-gen Chevy Volt gets underway.  The Detroit News expects production of the redesigned Volt to commence in Fall 2015, meaning the next-gen Volt will debut as a Model Year 2016 vehicle.

General Motors and its former CEO have strongly hinted that the next-gen Volt will debut, and is expected to be priced around $30,000-$32,500 with 50-60 miles of extended range.

Look for us to bring you more information on this GM investment on Tuesday when the automaker makes the official announcement.

Source: Detroit News

Categories: Cadillac, Chevrolet

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43 Comments on "To Prep For Next-Gen Chevy Volt, General Motors Will Invest $450 Million, Add 1,400 Jobs"

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I just want to say- “C’MON GM, YOU CAN DO THIS!

GM can build the Prius-fighter. If GM can see comparative sales success to Prius in Volt… The giant automaker may wake up and finally smell the java. Perhaps then we’ll see innovative EREV trucks, CUVs and compacts.

If GM can only give us a 5 seat Volt that is NOT AS UGLY as the recently exposed Gen2 Cruze in China…If GM can reach the 50 mile electric range, 50 miles per gallon Volt with 3 cylinder, aluminum range extender at $28,000-$30,000…”

GM knows what it has to do – and this is a big sign they’re doing it. The LG battery plant is up and humming in Michigan – let’s see if GM can put this ignition switch coverup and all the rest of it’s baloney behind them. Yukons and Tahoes can burn to the ground, but if GM can just…..get….this…..new……Volt…..right…..

I’m crossing my fingers.

(***mod note*** we got your back James – at all hours of the day! ***mode note***)

By the way, InsideEvs is #1!*

* of course.

This is good news.. Hopefully this means GM is really expecting larger sales from this new Volt. I am not sure whether they are going to try Ford’s model of selling a cheaper PHEV that more people can afford, or try for that upper segment with a premium plug-in, stealing customers away from Tesla. Or maybe they are going to hedge their bets and try for a little of both markets?

One thing is for sure.. Toyota better wake up from their FCEV dreams soon, or they are going to find their hybrid lines being eaten into by the likes of GM and Ford as PHEVs start to replace traditional hybrids.

I think GM will try both the “affordable” and “premium” paths in parallel. Volt (hopefully with a lower entry price than currently) and the ELR for people who simply must have the Caddy badge on their grill.

As for Toyota (and Honda) and their HFCV fetish — I honestly don’t know what to think of that. As I’ve said here before, by spending big money on HFCVs and not bringing out a Leaf competitor, those companies are making an immense bet that technology trends (the decline in battery prices, most notably) and the infrastructure challenges of hydrogen (those mondo expensive refueling stations) won’t let EVs push HFCVs right out of the market. I would LOVE to sit in on some of their meetings and hear their rationale for why they’re betting so heavily on such a long-shot technology.

I desperately want to see Toyota and Honda get serious about EVs and PHEVs, but until their hydrogen fever breaks, it’s not going to happen.

Indeed.. I hate to see them spending so much money developing FC cars, knowing that they will ultimately fail. Instead, they could be investing that money in more PHEV and BEV development. I suspect their FC fever will break within 5 years. I think by that point, with some of the next-gen plug-in cars on the roads that Honda and Toyota will have to concede.

I too would LOVE to be a fly on the wall and hear the conversations that must be going on inside the board rooms of all of these different companies.

I really think Toyota’s hedge bet would be to buy Tesla. They have a stake now and they obviously like Tesla’s technology. If you EV plan is to just buy Tesla, there is no point in reallocating your R&D guys to that tech right now.

The kicker would be if they can’t afford to buy Tesla by the time they throw in the HFCV towel.

For that to happen, Elon will have be rolling over in the grave.

Is it really all wasted money? A FC vehicle is, at the wheels, and EV, isn’t it? So there’s some good learning there. And it gives them a small (VERY small) platform with which to practice things like lightweighting and low volume production changes.

I’m not saying I understand what kind of crack they’re smoking, but just noting that it’s not ALL wasted.

While there is some clear logic in your statement, I think the details disprove that. Consider the point that any ICE car can be electrified. An FCV’s design takes into account FC and tank sizes. Form follows function. The reason why the Model S is such a good car is only partly due to the fact that it has electric drive. The skateboard design pushes the CG very low which yields great handling characteristics. So, no, I think it’s a lot more than just electricity.

Lou, personally I agree with every word you just wrote. But . . . . Mark my words. The H2 craziness has a good chance of prevailing. Why? The oil companies are in on it. They know they are headed for hard times pushing fossil liquid transportation fuels and they want to be the next gen. fuel suppliers/gatekeepers. Think about it! As the oil co’s are already major H2 producers and distributors they have a lot of relevant expertise. You can just imagine how they view growing numbers of EV folks fueling up at home using the existing grid. And, electricity producers are already starting to whine about EVs messing with their status quo. A Republican or a wishy-washy Obama-esque Washington DC will always favor big oil. Did I mention lobbyists? Now I did! I believe Honda and Toyota are responding to growing signs of writing on the wall. They are not totally dumb! O.K. where’s the evidence? Check out the Hydrogen Delivery Technical Team Roadmap sponsored by U.S. DOE at: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/pdfs/program/hdtt_roadmap_june2013.pdf Page 2 lists it as a partnership among U.S.DOE, USCAR (Big 3 car co.’s. and Tesla) and BP, Chevron, Phillips, Exxon and Shell. The 50+ page document is… Read more »
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

I look forward to seeing GM’s improvements, but I shan’t hold my breath. It will take them spreading Voltec out into other model types to convince me that they’re serious about electrification. Not that they care, but Xenu willing my next car will be a Tesla unless GM pulls off an upgrade that’s Lutzian in its ambition.

I have said it before, and I say it again, I think the sweet spot is;
40 miles AER, 50 mpg, and 5 seats, at a price as close to 30k as possible.

A version with today’s price and;
55+ milesAER, 50 mpg, and 4 seats would also fill a market niche I feel.

Regards all.

$32.5k and 50 miles of AER would be sweet! If they throw in more rear seat legroom I am definitely in when my Volt lease expires! Faster charging would be a huge plus, as well, but with 50 miles of AER, you wouldn’t need it that often.

I agree, all PEVs should have a minimum 6.6/7.2kW charging.

I can’t figure out why Nissan and GM both started out with 3.3 kW charge rates. It seems like a no-brainer, at least offer an option for it if it costs that much. And it seems like it would cost less than a thousand dollars to upgrade to 6.6 kW charge rates.

As I’ve repeatedly stated many times, 3.3 kw is the maximum rate compatible with allowable single phase charging rates world wide.

The bugaboo is most public chargers, and most residential chargers sold are 30 amps, so companies are somewhat reluctantly moving to a 6.6 kw standard, even if they have to retain 3.3 kw for single phase charging worldwide

I think they might be better off keeping the 40 mile range and reducing the intrusion of the battery, but maybe that’s just me. Maybe they’ll do both?

Also, with any luck they’ll actually start advertising this car better and showing off what it can do (not just playing off of range anxiety, but really show how much fun it is to drive!). Will the Volt 2 be like the Prius 2? Will it be the breakout model for Voltec? I really hope so. Then maybe they can finally bring us a full Voltec lineup – especially that crossover. Maybe even a 7-seater 😉

Its not just you. I think they don’t need to increase EV range all that much, 40 miles range is just fine. What they do need to do is focus on reducing range variation in cold and hot temps by having more efficient climate controls without sacrificing the user experience.

..Malibu and Impala”

Even if the Impala got the Outlander’s 12Kwh, it would shake the segment to its core. I don’t see a second shift and 450mm simply for the Volt. The “Volt” has been so negatively targeted, GM can’t use the technology elsewhere soon enough.

GM did finally use the technology somewhere else, in the ELR. Unfortunately the ELR is widely considered as an overpriced Volt, which was considered as an overpriced Cruze, so any marketing benefit that the ELR got from its modified Voltec seems to be tiny. Even Cadillac themselves decided to take away the Voltec brand and wipe it off from the inverter cover and the plug.

I think GM looked at all of the PiPs and Energies being sold and has decided to make their own instead of a new Volt. What branding they will use is unknown, but my money is on a Cruze and a Malibu PHEV20.

The Volt/ELR may follow in GM’s practice to make a one-off electrification vehicle and move on. Examples:

The EV1 — gone.
The dual-mode hybrid used on the Tahoe — gone.
The e-assist used on the Malibu — gone.

The only hope from GM is the 200+ mile EV for which we have nothing but anecdotal evidence that they were pursuing.

In addition to all the false negativity, the Volt suffers from being so unique. Its core advantages is also its downfall. Why? Because nobody understands it.

People either think it’s an electric that stops driving after 40 miles, or it’s “just another hybrid.” They don’t realize that it’s an electric vehicle for 40 miles, that can then be driven as far as you need on gas.

They also focus on engine MPG, which is sort of ridiculous since 70% of miles are driven on the battery and not the engine. That’s why the engine with its 38MPG still translates to an average of 150MPG on VoltStats.net, with some people over 10,000MPG.

Volt 2.0 should better be good because the rumors about Focus energi sound good too. I have the impression that Volt sales are behind since most buyers do their research well and are holding back for Volt 2.0 . Maybe GM should offer a lease for the 2014,2015 MY cars that allows you to swap into the next gen when it comes out. That should at least move the current inventory. Unless they don’t want to sell Volts now in order to save their allotted tax credits.
What amazes me even more is that I see more Tesla’s on the road nowadays than Volts even though they are 3 (?) times as expensive. Maybe GM should not worry about making Volt cheaper ? Thoughts / Comments ?

All the EV manufacturers need to make their offerings cheaper if they expect to make any sizable dent in the marketplace, and be anything more than a niche vehicle. At least as long as there is gas available everywhere under $10/gal. But everything does seem to be pointing in that direction.

Indeed. I expect the Focus Energi to outsell the Volt 3-to-1 (well, the current model Volt anyway)

Tesla gets away with such high prices because their car is amazing. For the Volt to compete with the Tesla they would need to reshape the car to make it slightly more attractive (not that it is ugly now by any stretch, but needs to be more of an eye catcher) but mainly, it needs better performance. Specifically, acceleration performance. Tesla is selling people on driving experience. The Volt is nice, and accelerates fine for average Joe. But to compete with Tesla in sales it needs a zero-to-sixty figure at least 6 seconds or better. And that’s something GM can’t do with the current battery they are using. However, they could partially solve that by allowing the engine to run during hard acceleration events (maybe in sport mode?) and then they could probably do that.

“And that’s something GM can’t do with the current battery they are using. ”

They can. However, it will just shorten the life of the battery.

Nobody wants that.

Volt was the fastest car with a plug for under $40K until the Spark EV came out.

None of the Energi car is faster in EV mode than the Volt.

I’m still thinking we’ll get something closer to 40/40 and not 50/50. 40 miles EV range and probably low/mid 40s MPG. The primary focus should be trying to figure out how to reduce the cost. The biggest difference between the Prius and the Volt right now is a pretty large one – infrastructure. You need the plug the Volt in every night. The Prius could exist in the car ecosystem without any major external changes – it didn’t matter where you lived or where you parked your car at night (in a garage in a single-family house, apartment complex, etc.). But the Volt needs that infrastructure. In order for the Volt 2.0 to be the next Prius we need to figure out how to deal with the charging issue. Just lowering the price isn’t enough. How do we address this issue? I don’t think its possible to just let the consumer deal with it. GM needs some sort of Geek Squad deal that would allow the dealer to sell an add-on (and throw in some extra $$$ for them too) that includes the installation – $79 for the initial site visit, and then some sample pricing on what it would… Read more »

A GM Geek Squad. Now that would be cool! They could call it a GMeek Squad. On second thought, nevermind.

So on the super wishful thinking bandwagon, I really wish this would be part of an announcement of (1) a new Voltec SUV, (2) manufacturing the Spark EV here in the states, and (3) nationwide rollout of the Spark EV.

I know this is all highly unlikely, but sometimes it’s nice to dream.

I don’t think its all that wishful to think about a Volt MPV5-style vehicle being announced next year. It may not come until early 2016, but it seems like a very good possibility to me if they’re going to be adding that many jobs and a second shift to the plant.

With today’s announcement, GM has signaled their intentions to dramatically scale up Voltec production. Its probably going to take more than one model if they want to sell that many cars. I’d love to see a Equinox Voltec, but I think its a bit of a stretch right now. Maybe 2017.

I think for the Volt to do better, it has to either be the best PHEV or best BEV. Right now it’s neither.

At a nice 38 EV miles but low 37mpg combined, it still makes an ok PHEV.

But the longer range, better mpg, larger 5-passenger Fusion and cheaper C-MAX Energi models stunted it’s growth for 2013/2014 for consumers looking for best range in their PHEV.

The anticipated 21-25 mile Focus Energi at an even lower price point, and even better 50 hybrid mpg will pull even more PHEV consumers. Which is targeted directly at the Prius plug-in.

This is why GM needs to hold at he segment leading 40 EV miles, but increase the hybrid mpg to 50mpg to better compete in the compact PHEV segment.

While at the same time offering a MY2016 160-200 mile Volt EV to compete directly with the next generaton Leaf, Focus EV and upcoming e-Golf.

I would disagree. I think the Volt is by far the best PHEV available. It has the most electric range (by a margin of 2:1), and provides that electric range without engine use regardless of acceleration or speed. No other PHEV can do that.

The median MPG for Volts according to Voltstats.net is 170 and the average is 150. 150 miles for every gallon of gasoline used on average, across every owner. That’s very impressive, and unmatched by other PHEV’s. Focusing on the engine MPG is naive because it tells only half the story (in fact, much less than half the story, since 70% of the Volt’s miles are driven without any engine use).

The BMW i3 Rex is a PHEV and has twice the range of the Volt. But considering the cost difference, as well as some other issues I still think the Volt is the better of the two.

The i3’s REx is not made for sustained long-range travel like the Volt’s. Between the low power (25kW) and the small gas tank, I agree that while worth mentioning, it is not as good of a PHEV as the Volt.

What ClarksonCote said. The Volt is by far the best PHEV on the market (unless you’re one of those who insist that an EREV is so different from a PHEV, that calling the Volt a PHEV is an insult). The fact that it only gets 38MPG is a red herring – with its superior AER to any Energi product, it is in Charge-Sustaining mode so infrequently that it uses – on average – far less gas than the Energi products.

I wonder if GM is planning a big jump in their PHEV line-up? The Caddy ELR was a massive disappointment. But if they make a cheaper Volt and add an SUV or a CUV then they could really get back on track.

I see the Volt as GM’s Prius. Will GM or Toyota be the first to offer up a full electric version?

I’d really like to see Nissan or Mitsubishi offer up electric trucks and SUV’s.

Mitsubishi really should take the initiative on this. Otherwise I see them going the route of Suzuki(exit USA market).

We have a Volt and a LEAF in our household. My daily commute is 31mi each way, so I need the bigger battery if I want to avoid gasoline. I wouldn’t consider switching to a Volt down the road unless it had a >70mi range. My ideal range is ~150mi EV capacity for my next purchase.

With the increasing CAFE requirements; there really is no future in gas powered vehicles.

It would be hard to do a 50mph “AND” 50 miles EV range.

Even with lighter weight, the i3 REx with skinny tires can’t even do the 50mpg… Why? B/c its powertrain is aimed to be EV instead of ICE. Unlike Prius which is light and has an ICE (Atkinson cycle) which is designed to have high efficiency and low power.

I think even 45mpg-47mpg is sufficient if the EV range is increased to 50 miles. People would rarely use it anyway.

As far as comparing to Energi goes, it is pointless since those Energi cars are ONLY gaining on Volt b/c of the different body styles. Some people like one and some like another. Plus, Energi are so cheap that some dealers are practically giving them away.

I agree about the energi cars. People compared them (especially the Fusion) as a Volt competitor. But the Volt is leaps and bounds better than the energi cars. You’re average customer doesn’t understand the differences in the powertrain, though. Plus Ford can sell those cars more easily to customers who are already interested in a Fusion or C-Max because they are just an upgraded trim level.

nevertheless, I expect Ford to be selling a lot of Focus Energi cars when it is released and I hope GM has something that can compete.

I would be surprised if GM thought increasing electric range was the key to increasing sales. I think the sweet spot would be to keep it at 40 miles with a cheaper and smaller battery (allowing 5 seats) and optimizing the engine for better fuel economy in gas mode, as that mpg number has a lot of impact in terms of marketing the car. If I could have 40 miles for my daily driving, and 45+ mpg for extended trips, I’d be really happy. That said, early reports of i3 REx mpg suggest that downsizing the engine only gets you so far. Still, I’m almost certain that GM has figured out ways to optimize their range extender after this first shot.

I am sure they know there is a market for a Volt with more range. But they also know there is a market for a Volt with a lower price tag. The question is, which market are they going to go after? if they go for the lower price tag, then fuel economy of the ICE will be of primary concern since that probably means it will have a smaller battery.

Personally, I hope they hedge their bets and figure out a way to appeal to both sides of that market.

I think that may be one of the current problems with the current Volt. It is too “moderate” and most customers seem polarized to one extreme or the other.

Also on my Chevy Volt wish list:

Add a link app on the console that connect’s to my android phone’s text messages with text-to-voice so I can hear and respond verbally.

Another link app for ChargePoint app on my phone. I want to see what charging stations are around from the Volt’s console. Also use my ChargePoint account to reserve/login a charging station before I arrive.