GM expected to reveal all-electric car

October 12, 2011

GM expected to reveal all-electric car

Battery-powered offering likely to target city drivers

/ The Detroit News

General Motors Co. is expected to announce today it will sell an all-electric car in the United States.

The car will be a small, battery-powered vehicle designed for urban markets, sources familiar with the plans said. The vehicle is expected to be an electric Spark, which is sold in Europe as a four-cylinder, and it will come to the U.S. in 2013.

GM spokesman Mike Albano declined comment. The company is holding a media briefing for journalists today at its headquarters in Detroit in honor of Chevrolet’s centennial anniversary Nov. 3.

“We have some news announcements (Wednesday), and I’m not going to say what they are,” Albano said.

At the Detroit auto show in January, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson said the company was developing an all-electric vehicle for the U.S. market to complement the extended-range Chevrolet Volt that went on sale in December.

The all-electric car would fill a niche separate from the Volt, which is battery-powered but comes with a backup gas engine, Akerson said at the time. It would be aimed primarily at drivers in big cities.

Akerson also said GM plans to add two more Volt-style, extended-range vehicles to its lineup by 2012-13: a hatchback and a minivan called the Volt MPV5, shown last year at the Beijing Auto Show.

The automaker also will ratchet up production of the Volt next year at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant. This year, it plans to build 16,000 Volts, including several thousand destined for export. Next year, GM will increase that number to 60,000 Volts.

While GM was among the first to introduce an electric car to the mass market, its competitors are quickly catching up. Nissan Motor Co.’s all-electric Leaf went on sale in December, and at the end of this year, Ford Motor Co. will start selling an all-electric version of the Focus. The Ford C-Max plug-in hybrid will follow next year.

Next year, Chrysler Group LLC will offer an all-electric Fiat 500.

Toyota Motor Corp., the industry’s hybrid leader, will begin delivery of a plug-in Prius next spring.

Despite the slew of new battery-powered cars arriving in dealerships, the technology remains expensive and the battery range limited, making many car buyers wary of switching over. The Volt, which starts at $39,995 for the base model, can travel up to 35 miles on a charge before the gas engine kicks in to recharge the battery.

The $32,780 Leaf has a range of 73 miles.

Nissan has sold 7,199 Leafs this year — outselling the Volt with 3,895 in sales.

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