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GM Targeting 20-Percent Growth for Plug-In Hybrids in 2013

Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) — General Motors Co. is planning to build as many as 36,000 Chevrolet Volts and other plug-in hybrids for worldwide delivery this year, 20 percent more than in 2012, two people familiar with the effort said.

GM is planning to build 1,500 to 3,000 of the fuel- efficient vehicles a month, said the people, who didn’t want to be identified because the target isn’t public. GM sold about 30,000 Volt and similar Opel Ampera cars globally in 2012, said Jim Cain, a company spokesman, who declined to give a target for this year.

Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson has struggled to compete against more successful alternative-power vehicles such as Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius. The CEO originally touted the Volt’s gasoline-and-electric system as the technology of the future and forecast global Volt sales of 60,000 in 2012, before settling for half that amount.

The 36,000 target is “probably a doable number,” Jim Hall, principal of consultancy 2953 Analytics, said. “It will have a full calendar year in Europe” and GM will probably sell more this year now that the Volt is eligible for the car-pool lane in California, he said.

Battery-only and plug-in hybrids that meet strict California emissions rules qualify for a sticker that permits solo drivers to use the lanes with vehicles carrying multiple passengers.

The plug-in Volt can travel 38 miles (61 kilometers) on electric power before a gasoline engine engages to recharge the battery. Plug-in hybrids can also be recharged by plugging into an electrical outlet. U.S. sales of the Volt more than tripled last year to 23,461, about half of Akerson’s original target of 45,000.

‘Very Frustrating’

After last year, which included temporary production shutdowns, the Detroit-based automaker wants to find a consistent selling rate for Volt, Cristi Landy, GM’s marketing director for small cars, said in an interview this month in Chicago.
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