During his Friday visit to the Chevy Volt production plant in Detroit-Hamtramck, Michigan, President Obama got behind the wheel of the extended-range electric vehicle while GM announced that it will increase the car’s 2012 production by 50%. In fact, Obama drove the car a few feet before Secret Service agents stopped him from going any farther.
“Some of you saw me drive the Volt about 12 inches. They don’t let me drive much these days,” Obama said. “Pretty smooth.”
GM recently announced that it would produce 10,000 Volts in 2011 and 30,000 in 2012. Citing strong consumer interest, though, GM will increase its 2012 production to 45,000 cars. According to GM, its e-mail interest list has topped 70,000 names, while its GM-Volt want list includes another 54,000 names.
“At this plant, they’re hard at work building the high-quality, fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow,” Obama said from Detroit on Saturday. “Throughout Michigan, an advanced battery industry is taking root that will power clean electric cars—an industry that produced only 2% of the world’s advanced batteries last year, but will now be able to produce as much as 40% in a little over five years. That’s real progress.”
The production increase and presidential visit come on the heels of several recent Volt announcements from GM. Last week, the company also said that the Volt will cost $41,000, not counting the $7500 federal tax credit. Leases will run at $350 a month for three years plus $2500 down at 12,000 miles per year.
Nissan’s all-electric Leaf, also due next year and expected to provide some significant competition for the Volt, will come with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $32,780 and similar leasing options. The Leaf is eligible for the $7500 tax credit as well. Nissan expects to produce 25,000 Leafs for 2011.
Additionally, GM’s announcements included the release of the Volt’s ordering guide for dealers to use. The guide features the car’s interior and exterior options, including a “premium cloth” dark fabric, a 30-Gbyte hard drive for music storage, and a “timeshift” function for recording audio broadcasts like a DVR. Also, the guide notes that the Volt requires premium fuel.
“Premium fuel offers the opportunity to have a little bit more spark. Ninety-one octane fuel also offers the opportunity to be a little more efficient. So technically, it’s a 5% to 10% fuel economy improvement the few times that most people will run the range extender,” said Volt vehicle line director Tony Pasawatz.