General Motors has awarded two contracts for battery development for its planned Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid car GM Chairman Rick Wagoner told the automaker's annual general meeting on Tuesday.

According to the Associated Press (AP), he also told the meeting GM would introduce four new hybrid models this year. The four new hybrids, all previously announced, are the two-mode petrol-electric systems in the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon large sport utility vehicles, and hybrid versions of the Saturn Aura and new Chevrolet Malibu sedans, a spokesman confirmed to the news agency.

Wagoner said the contracts to design and test lithium-ion batteries went to Michigan-based Compact Power and to Continental Automotive systems, AP reported.

"Give the huge potential that the Volt and its E-flex system offers to lower oil consumption, lower oil imports and reduce carbon gas emissions, this is for sure a top priority program for GM," Wagoner was quoted as saying, adding that the company is trying to produce the Volt as soon as it can.

The Volt was unveiled at the Detroit motor show in January. Its battery-powered electric motor can run the car for up to 40 city miles on a single charge. Beyond that, a petrol-powered, one-litre, three-cylinder engine can generate electricity to power the car and replenish the battery, with a range of up to 640 miles, GM told the Associated Press.

The battery system can be plugged into a home outlet for recharging, and the gasoline engine can recharge the batteries while it is moving, the report added.

GM's announcement to shareholders came as Honda Motor decided it would stop selling the hybrid version of its Accord sedan, made only for the US, after the 2007 model year.