US: GM to idle Chevrolet Volt & Opel/Vauxhall Ampera plant

By Chris Wright | 28 August 2012

General Motors is to halt production of the Chevrolet Volt and Opel/Vauxhall Ampera twins at its Hamtramck plant in Detroit for four weeks next month.

The shutdown will begin on September 17 as the plant is prepared for production of the 2014 Chevrolet Impala, the brand's flagship full-size sedan in North American markets. The 10th generation of this car will be manufactured on the same line as the Volt and Ampera, as well as at GM Canada's Oshawa #2 plant in Ontario.

GM has idled Hamtramck twice this year because of sluggish demand for the Volt although the model is expected to report sales of more than 2,200 cars in August, which would make it the model's best month yet.

The carmaker has cut back its US sales forecast of 45,000 Volts this year, saying it would instead match supply to meet demand. For the first seven months of the year, it sold 10,666 Volts, up 270% from the same period last year.

Sales have been boosted by California's granting access to carpool lanes for solo drivers of the extended-range electric vehicle. GM said that one in every three Volts is now sold in the state.

The new Impala goes on sale in North America early next year and GM plans to add a second shift at the plant when production begins. The factory also builds the Chevrolet Malibu.

Both Automotive News and the Detroit News have reported that 1,500 union workers have been notified of the shutdown. GM has no statement on this issue on its media website, nor do Opel or Vauxhall.