CHICAGO General Motors is stepping up production of its new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle to try to meet "huge demand," a top executive said on Tuesday.
Speaking at an event where the Volt was named Motor Trend magazine's 2011 Car of the Year, GM product chief Tom Stephens said: "If you look at where we were originally, in terms of what we thought the volume would be, we have stepped it up."
Stephens declined to give a new production forecast. Most recently, GM, the world's No. 2 automaker, had said it planned to build 10,000 Volts in 2011 and 45,000 in 2012.
He confirmed that GM had asked South Korea's LG Chem, which began supplying batteries for the Volt in September under a six-year exclusive contract, to increase its production.
"What do you hope for if you're in the manufacturing business?" Stephens said. "To always have more demand than you can supply. They always say that's a good problem to have. That's the problem that we have right now."
The Motor Trend award is a highly sought accolade that winning carmakers use in their consumer advertising.
Stephens said he expected the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to publish its fuel efficiency rating for the Volt -- a necessary step needed before the cars can be sold -- "any day now."
The launch of the Volt, a centerpiece of GM's effort to transform itself, comes as the automaker plans to go public.
Stephens would not discuss GM's landmark IPO, which will lower the government's stake in the company and has grown in size in recent days due to strong investor interest.
(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)