Chevrolet announces Volt production increase for 2012 as President Barack Obama tours Detroit plant

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General Motors Corp. will increase U.S. production capacity for the Chevrolet Volt electric car in 2012 by 50 percent to 45,000 cars after the automaker cited strong consumer interest in the vehicle.The announcement came as President Barack Obama toured the Detroit-Hamtramck plant where the Volt is being built for sale later this year.

The Volt has attracted vast attention since its introduction at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show. Touting a total range of 340 miles, the Volt can travel 40 miles on the power of its 16 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery.

When the battery’s power runs low, a gasoline-powered engine generates power that extends the range another 300 miles.

The Nissan Leaf, which will make its debut late in tis year, has a larger battery with more than double the Volt’s pure-electric range. But it does not have a generator to extend its range.

The expanded U.S. production capacity is the latest of several encouraging announcements regarding the Volt. Chevrolet dealers began taking customer orders for the car earlier this week following the release of pricing. The Volt will start at $41,000.

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