GM To Speed Up Work On Its Volt Plug-In-Electric Car

General Motors Corp. announced at its annual shareholders meeting that it would introduce four new hybrid models this year.

A company spokesperson said four new models, all previously announced are the two-mode electric gas systems in the Chevrolet Tahoe and the GMC Yukon large sport utility vehicles and introduce hybrid systems for the Saturn Aura and the new Chevrolet Malibu sedans.

Gm also awarded two contracts to Compact Power Inc. and Continental Automotive Systems that will help to speed up development of its plug-in-electric car called the Chevrolet Volt. The contracts are to design and test lithium-ion batteries.

Given the huge potential in lower oil consumption and lower carbon gas emissions that the Volt and its E-Flex system offers, GM stated that producing the Volt is a top priority program and will produce the Volt as soon as it can.

The Volt which was unveiled in January at the Detroit Auto Show, uses a battery powered electric motor that can operate the car for up to 64 city kilometres on a single charge. Beyond that, a one litre three cylinder gasoline-powered engine can generate electricity to recharge the battery, giving the Volt a range of up to 1,300 kilometres.

The battery system can be plugged into a home outlet for recharging and the gasoline powered engine can recharge the batteries while moving.

GM has cut more than $7 billion (U.S.) in annual costs, shed more than 34,000 hourly workers and introduced more than 20 new models since Novemeber 2005, this is in an effort to regain sales lost to Asian competitors.

If the Volt can be introduced in a timely manner, it just might be the vehicle that can put GM back on track for the coming years.