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GM to Increase 2012 Chevrolet Volt Hybrid Production 33%

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Chevrolet Volt
A Chevrolet Volt hybrid electric car sits on display during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg

May 18 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co. said production of its Chevrolet Volt will increase 33 percent from earlier plans, and the plant making the plug-in hybrid will shut down for four weeks to prepare for the increased output.

About 16,000 Volts will be built this year and 60,000 in 2012, Detroit-based GM said today in a statement. The automaker previously targeted output of 15,000 this year and 45,000 in 2012, Rob Peterson, a GM spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson has said GM needs to offer more fuel-efficient vehicles as gasoline prices rise. GM will add the Voltec gasoline-electric drive system to more models in its fleet and needs to prepare for crude oil prices that may increase to $120 a barrel, he has said.

GM said its Detroit-Hamtramck plant, located about 4 miles north of its headquarters, will close for four weeks beginning in June for upgrades, including new tooling, conveyers and other equipment. The factory makes the Volt and its twin, the Opel Ampera, which sells in Europe and China.

The Detroit-Hamtramck plant also is preparing to make the Chevrolet Malibu beginning next year.

GM said the factory shutdown will further restrict supplies of the Volt in June and July. GM delivered 493 Volts in April, bringing sales to 1,703 for the first four months of the year.

Akerson has told executives he wants GM to boost Volt production to as much as 120,000 units in 2012, two people familiar with the matter said in January. GM continues to look at ways it can further increase capacity and will try to further increase output if demand is strong, Peterson said in a telephone interview.

To contact the reporter on this story: Craig Trudell in Southfield, Michigan at ctrudell1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net.

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