March 2, 2012 / 8:50 PM / in 6 years

GM to halt Volt production for five weeks

DETROIT, March 2 (Reuters) - General Motors Co will temporarily halt production of its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and lay off 1,300 workers for five weeks this spring, a spokesman said on Friday.

Production of the Volt and its European version, the Opel Ampera, at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant will be on hold starting March 19. Workers are expected to return to work on April 23.

“Volt sales increased in February as compared to January, but we still need to maintain our inventory levels and so we’re taking this action,” GM spokesman Chris Lee said. “We’re going to build to market demand.”

At the end of February, Volt inventory stood at about 3,600 vehicles, which does not include in-transit vehicles.

Earlier this year, GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky said GM would cut production of the Volt if sales fell short of estimates in the first half of the year.

He declined to provide a sales forecast for 2012. GM sold about 8,000 Volts last year, a little more than half of its annual target.

Slow sales of the Volt would hardly make a dent in GM’s overall U.S. sales, but the vehicle has become a symbol of GM’s effort to transform itself after its U.S.-funded bankruptcy restructuring in 2009.

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