Flint Gets a Jolt From The Volt

Chevrolet Press and News

Chevrolet Volt

Instead of constructing a whole new factory to make engines for its new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle, General Motors has decided to build them in an existing facility located in Flint, Michigan.

The Chevy Volt is one of the most anticipated American-made vehicles that has come along in quite some time. You might even say that it’s a make-or-break car for GM. The carmaker is going all out to make the Volt a success and a household name.

People like the general idea of this car, because it’s economical, sporty and green. The Volt will rely on a lithium-ion battery pack that will let commuters travel up to 40 miles on electric power alone. The Volt’s engine kicks in after its battery is drained by about 70 percent to sustain the battery’s remaining charge to keep the car running for several hundred miles.

And yesterday, GM announced what appears on the surface like a smart move. They’ve scrapped plans to build a new plant to produce engines for its Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle and instead will build the engines in an existing Flint factory.

The move will save money (roughly $120 million) and use available floor space within the Flint South engine plant on Bristol Road, the automaker announced Tuesday.

This is a very smart move by GM, especially when the company is pleading for help and trying to show the powers-that-be that they can be frugal during a rocky economy. Also, giving jobs to an embattled city like Flint is a feel-good, win-win situation.

People are into saving money and recycling more than ever right now, and this move does both. Why build a brand new production facility when you have a perfectly good one in Flint?

Maybe this is an indication that the Big 3 are starting to learn how to play the game—especially if they want money from the current administration.

GM had said in September it would invest $370 million in a new 552,000-square-foot manufacturing plant that would produce four-cylinder engines for the Volt and the Chevrolet Cruze small car. But in December, the automaker announced it was delaying construction to conserve cash as it sought federal loans.

Instead, GM will spend $250 million installing new machinery and equipment at Flint South.

Preparation work will start this spring and engine production is expected to start in December 2010.

The new engines include a 1.4-liter turbo engine for the Cruze and a 1.4-liter naturally aspirated engine for the Volt. The four-cylinder engines are part of an approach by GM to double global production of small four-cylinder engines by 2011.

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