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by Matt Brogan

GM plans to upgrade its upcoming battery-powered Chevrolet Volt once it launches the vehicle late next year  – faster than it could overhaul any conventional vehicle.

Frank Weber, GM’s global vehicle line executive for the Volt, said the technology behind the all-electric Volt will allow GM to drive improvements to future versions far more quickly after the battery-powered car goes on sale in 2010.

“This is almost like getting software updates into your car,” Weber said. “This is not a mechanical world. So, even within a vehicle lifecycle you will see updates that are very significant.”

The company has not said when it expects to roll out the second generation of the vehicle, but plans to focus on cutting the size and cost of the battery as a top priority. The 181kg T-shaped battery pack is expected to be the Volt’s most expensive and most important component. The cells for the battery will be manufactured by Korea’s LG Chem.

Weber said GM engineers are not focused on extending the vehicle’s range (currently 64km) as the prescribed distance is seen as the longest most people would drive the car on a daily basis.

GM plans to build about 10,000 Volts in the first year of production and eventually push annual output to about 60,000. The car’s battery can be recharged at a standard electric outlet.

The manufacturer does not expect to make money on the first generation of the Volt, making its subsequent launches more important for the struggling automaker.






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