Will GM Launch Multiple Chevy Volt Spinoffs?

More likely to be known sooner is whether anonymous reports are correct that General Motors will invest $450 million and add 1,400 new jobs and a second shift to its Detroit-Hamtramck plant which produces the Volt.

If so, this should be revealed tomorrow at an Automotive Press Association luncheon, wrote the Detroit News on Saturday, which quoted a Michigan analyst with some sketchy speculation about other “electric” and “plug-in” variants.

Tomorrow, said four sources, GM’s VP of North America manufacturing, Gerald Johnson is expected to make the announcement of increased dedication to GM’s Volt producing plant.

One anonymous source said the second shift at Detroit-Hamtramck would be added next year, and another source said the investment is focused also on battery technologies, but unclear was whether more jobs would be added at the Brownstown plant where Volt batteries are assembled.

Presently, GM employs 1,629 workers at the 3.6-million square foot Detroit-Hamtramck plant which makes the Malibu, Impala, Cadillac ELR and Volt and Ampera variants for domestic and export sales.

About 100 are now employed at the 406,000-square foot Brownstown facility.

New ‘Electric’ and ‘Plug-In’ Cars?

The Detroit News also interviewed Jeff Schuster, an analyst with LMC Automotive in Troy, who said he expects the new Volt to begin production in fall 2015.

Schuster said he also believes GM will add another compact Volt-based “electric vehicle” — with a lower electric range — also to be built at Detroit-Hamtramck.

Unclear however is that Schuster talks about an “electric vehicle” as distinguished from a “plug-in version.”

“They’re looking to take the Volt in kind of a split personality and have a plug-in version and likely a more affordable electric version,” he said.

The Detroit News did not clarify what the difference is between an “electric” car and a “plug-in” car.

“Schuster said he expects a new electric vehicle would have a shorter range than the plug-in version,” wrote the Detroit News, “but with a lower price, to reach more consumers.”

The Volt is a “plug-in” car but then again, so probably would be any “electric vehicle” assuming this term its being used even close to correctly, and saying it has less range is vague too.

Brownstown plant.

Brownstown plant.

Assuming they mean less electric range, and not total gas-plus-electric range, the “lower price” car called an “electric vehicle” could not be a pure battery electric vehicle.

It sounds more like Schuster is talking about a (plug-in) Voltec with a smaller battery, as no pure BEV would have less than the Volt’s 38 miles EV range.

GM spokesperson Katie McBride declined to comment, and this other car speculaton may not be disclosed Tuesday assuming the general investment and jobs news is announced.

The report otherwise hints at the continued commitment to a second-generation Volt even though details of the money to be invested by GM, extra shift, and “electric” vehicle as distinguished from a “plug in” vehicle are not clear.

Also not clear is whether the new Volt will get more than 38 miles. Schuster guessed GM will add some, but how much, if any, is a “wild card.”

Speculation was also offered on GM’s desire to compete with Tesla when the California EV maker brings its Gen 3 car to market.

Schuster guessed GM may develop a variety of battery and range options for a future GM alternative to Tesla at varying price points.