Early Volts reportedly cost $40,000 to build
Chevrolet Volt battery pack – Click above for high-res image gallery

How's your math? If you have 240,000 "potential buyers" but only 10,000 vehicles to sell them in the first year, what can you do? If you're General Motos and the item in question is the Chevrolet Volt, then you look for ways to seriously increase the number of Volts you can build (and, of course, sell).

That's exactly what CEO Dan Akerson says his company is trying to do, looking to double or triple production rates of this very important car. The problem, according to GM North America President Mark Reuss, is the bottleneck created by the limited number of battery cells that vendor LG Chem can produce for GM. The current plan is to make around 10,000 in 2011 and 45,000 in 2012. That 2012 number has already been increased from 30,000.

Upping the production numbers is good for GM for another reason. According to Steven Rattner, who was President Obama's former auto bailout chief and worked intimately with GM, "At least in the early years, each Volt would cost around $40,000 to manufacture (development costs not included)." GM won't confirm this number, but increased production will get the company, presumably, better economies of scale and thus lower production costs.


  • A battery engineer checks a Chevrolet Volt battery at the General Motors Global Battery Systems Lab in Warren, Michigan Wednesday, June 30, 2010. The Chevrolet Volt will offer customers an unprecedented standard 8 year/100,000 mile warranty on its lithium-ion battery. GM engineers have completed more than 1 million miles and 4 million hours of validation battery testing since 2007. Each Volt battery pack has nine modules and 288 cells. GM designed and engineered 99 percent of the 155 components in each battery. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet)
  • A Chevrolet Volt battery at the General Motors Global Battery Systems Lab in Warren, Michigan Wednesday, June 30, 2010. The Chevrolet Volt will offer customers an unprecedented standard 8 year/100,000 mile warranty on its lithium-ion battery. GM engineers have completed more than 1 million miles and 4 million hours of validation battery testing since 2007. Each Volt battery pack has nine modules and 288 cells. GM designed and engineered 99 percent of the 155 components in each battery. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet)
  • The first Chevrolet Volt battery built at the General Motors Brownstown Battery plant undergoes a dimensional quality check in Brownstown Township, Michigan Tuesday, December 22, 2009. The Brownstown facility is the first lithium ion battery pack manufacturing plant in the U.S. operated by a major automaker. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)
  • The first Chevrolet Volt battery moves through the assembly process at the General Motors Brownstown Battery plant in Brownstown Township, Michigan Tuesday, December 22, 2009. The Brownstown facility is the first lithium-ion battery pack manufacturing plant in the U.S. operated by a major automaker. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)
  • The first Chevrolet Volt battery makes its way through the General Motors Brownstown Battery plant on an automated guided cart (AGC) in Brownstown Township, Michigan Tuesday, December 22, 2009. The Brownstown facility is the first lithium ion battery pack manufacturing plant in the U.S. operated by a major automaker. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)

[Sources: The New York Times, Automotive News – sub. req.]


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