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Last 7 Days

by Tim Beissmann

General Motors will halt production of its Volt plug-in hybrid for more than a month as low demand leads to excessively high inventory levels.

GM informed 1300 employees at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant in Michigan on Thursday of the planned five-week production break that will run from March 19 to April 23.

At the end of February, GM’s Volt inventory rose to 6300 vehicles, enough to last more than 150 days at the current rate of sales.

GM sold just 603 Volts in January as a safety investigation into battery fires in the vehicle continued. Sales increased to 1023 units in February after officials ruled that the Volt’s electric components posed no increased fire risk.

A rebadged version of the Chevrolet will be sold down under as the Holden Volt from the last quarter of this year. The altered production will not impact delivery of cars to Australia.

The Cruze-sized Volt is expected to sell in small numbers in Australia initially due to its anticipated $60,000 starting price.

GM achieved just three quarters of its sales goal with the Volt last year. It sold 7671 units in the US, well below its target of 10,000 vehicles. It has since backed off its prediction that it will sell 60,000 Volts around the world in 2012.

GM officially calls the Volt an “extended range electric vehicle”. It employs a 1.4-litre petrol engine to power an electric drivetrain once the charge from the lithium-ion battery pack has reached a minimum level. The car can travel around 60-80km before the petrol engine kicks in to charge the battery pack, giving the Volt a range in excess of 500km.

Read more about the Holden Volt, and click here to watch a video on how the Volt works.