Resurgent General Motors offered fresh evidence recently of its growing confidence, speeding up the rollout of the Chevrolet Volt and telling the federal government it wouldn’t be needing $14.4 billion in direct loans to build fuel-efficient cars after all.
The Volt was recently launched in five states – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California and Texas – as well as the Washington, D.C., area, and GM’s cautious plan had called for just Michigan to join that list in the coming months. But citing a “surge of consumer interest,” the company said 11 more states – Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii – would get the car in the third quarter, and that it would be available in all 50 states by the end of the year. The company also said customers nationwide would be able to place Volt orders in the second quarter this year.
“This is the right thing to do for our customers and our dealers who are seeing increased traffic onto their showroom floors,” said Rick Scheidt, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet marketing.
The GM announcement didn’t say the expanded availability meant it would produce more than the 10,000 Volts it had previously said it would manufacture this year. However, the Detroit News reported the automaker is considering “doubling or tripling” production in 2012 to more than 120,000 vehicles. Last July, GM said it would make 30,000 Volts in 2012, but that figure had already grown to 45,000.
As for the federal loan, GM said it felt it could go forward with producing fuel-efficient vehicles without it, and that withdrawing its application was consistent with its goal of carrying a minimal debt load.