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GM Hires 1,000 Engineers to Expand Electric Offerings

General Motors Co., the maker of the Chevrolet Volt gasoline-electric car, will hire 1,000 engineers in Michigan to help expand the automakers’ lineup of electric-drive vehicles.

The hiring will increase GM’s workforce of electric-vehicle engineers to about 3,000, Rob Peterson, a company spokesman, said today at an event to mark the start of production of the $41,000 car. Detroit-based GM plans to sell 10,000 Volts next year and 45,000 in 2012.

The Volt, begun under former Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner, is the centerpiece of GM’s effort to position the company as innovative and environmentally friendly. Dan Akerson, who took over as CEO in September, has said he wants GM to be “at the forefront” of electric-car development.

“GM is going to lead the industry in the adoption of various vehicle-electrification technologies,” Akerson said today in a statement. “We want to give our customers energy choices other than petroleum and to make the automobile part of the solution when it comes to the environment.”

GM rose 40 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $34.20 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 3.6 percent from their $33 sale price in an initial public offering earlier this month.

Volt Requests

More than 200,000 people have requested more information about the Volt, said John Hughes, the car’s marketing manager.

GM could raise output by 25 percent to 50 percent of the Volt’s 10,000-unit plan for 2011 if demand increases, said Tom Stephens, vice chairman of global product operations. Limited capacity for batteries and other key components would restrict GM from increasing much more, he said in an interview.

GM is auctioning off the first for-sale Volt and donating the proceeds to Detroit’s public schools system. The high bid as of 5:11 p.m. was $105,000, according to a website GM set up for the auction.

The Volt can drive for 35 miles solely on electric power and an additional 340 miles on the gasoline engine, GM said today in a statement.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated the Volt’s energy use as the equivalent of 93 miles per gallon in electric-only mode and 60 mpg in gasoline-electric driving, GM said. In gasoline-only mode, when the battery is drained, the car would get 37 mpg, GM said.

Chrysler Group LLC is hiring 1,000 engineers and high-tech workers for its small and midsize vehicles, Mike Palese, a company spokesman, said today.

About 40 percent of those workers will be contract employees, he said in an e-mail. The Wall Street Journal reported Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler’s hirings earlier today.

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