GM Puts the Brakes on $370 Million Chevy Volt Engine Factory

Gm Chevy Volt Engine photo

Another Thorn in the Volt's Side
There's a lot of seismic activity in the car industry these days. Tesla Motors changed CEO and fire some people, Toyota stopped construction of a US Prius manufacturing plant, Norwegian electric car maker THINK is on the brink, as well as the NICE electric car company. And in the same week that we learned that BYD was bringing a plug-in hybrid to market years before the Chevy Volt, GM announces that it is suspending work on the 552,000 square foot Flint Engine Plant that will make the Volt's 1.4-liter engine. Read on for more details.
GM 1.4 turbo engine image

No Delays, We Promise!
GM says that this won't delay the Volt and that it will appear in showrooms at the end of 2010 as promised, but is that just pre-bailout reassurances? What does this mean for the Cruze, another GM model that will use that 1.4-liter engine? Hard to know for sure.

From the Detroit Free Press:

"It's temporarily on hold as we assess our cash situation," said GM spokeswoman Sharon Basel. "I don't think it's a surprise that we're studying and reviewing everything given the position we're in."

Of course, GM is trying to survive in the short-term, so drastic measures are required. But the Volt is part of its long-term plan, so they should be careful about not delaying that project too much. BYD's already on track to sell a plug-in hybrid in the US in 2010, Fisker might diversify into more affordable plug-in cars, and other automakers are no doubt working on their own Volt-like vehicles. A big part of what made the Volt notable is that it is ahead of the curve. If it becomes just another plug-in hybrid, the benefits to GM will be much smaller.

Via Detroit Free Press, Associated Press, Reuters
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