GM US has stopped construction work on its USD$370 million Michigan engine plant, where the Volt's 1.4 litre engine was to be produced. GM's problem is finding the cash to complete it. While another hurdle for cash-strapped GM, the Volt is so far away from production that the plant delay is not expected to effect the production time line of this revolutionary electric model.
The 1.4 litre engine is to provide 'back-up' power to the electric Volt; the announcement is not good news for the struggling automaker. Besides being one of its most important new models in decades, the Volt is symbolic of GM's efforts to shift away from gas-guzzlers to cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars - and to a more profitable future.
However, according to Reuters (17/12), GM spokeswoman Sharon Basel said GM anticipated that the suspension (of plant construction) would be temporary and that there had been no change to GM's commitment to push ahead with the Volt for a launch in 2010. The plant is also intended to produce engines for the upcoming Chevy Cruze, a potential replacement for the Daewoo based Holden Viva.
In related news, GM has vowed to deliver the Volt regardless of whether it receives a government bailout or not. If GM is not able to fund production of the engine locally, the plan is to import the engine from Europe. GM is adamant that the Volt program will be fully realised.
The question is whether GM will continue to find sufficient development funds to make the Volt a genuine contender against the likes of the Prius and Civic Hybrid with their now-mature technologies and production efficiencies. There is also a question mark over GM's future itself.
What do you think? Will the Volt make it, and, if it does, will it then get thrashed in the showroom?