Low-emission Volt models will be sent to California as part of the Low Emissions Package

General Motors Co. has announced that it restarted production of the extended range Chevrolet Volt earlier this month after shutting down in December for the holidays.

According to GM, production restarted on February 6 at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant in Michigan. The plant will be producing new 2012 Chevrolet Volt models, which are capable of traveling about 35 miles on battery power before the gasoline engine kicks in for a recharge.

GM also announced that it has began sending the low-emission models to California as part of the state's Low Emissions Package. The Low Emissions Package allows California Volt drivers to receive $1,500 in state rebates via the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project in addition to the $7,500 tax credit from the federal government. Also, the Volt drivers with the Low Emissions Package can apply for one of California's High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) traffic lane stickers, which allows them to drive in the HOV lane outside of congested highways.

The Detroit-Hamtramck plant has already started shipping the Volts to California this week. They will arrive at over 140 participating Chevrolet dealerships throughout the state before the end of the month.

"The Volts with low emissions package are certain to be a strong draw for California commuters looking to travel the state's notoriously congested freeways in the carpool lane," said Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet Marketing.

According to GM, Southern California drivers will save about 36 minutes a day of driving by using the HOV lane with the Volt's Low Emission Package.

The news of restarted production and California shipments are undoubtedly welcome, considering the fact that the Volt had a bit of a rough 2011. For instance, in May 2011, a Volt caught fire while parked in a garage three weeks after enduring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) side-impact test at a Wisconsin facility.

Later in November, NHTSA conducted three additional side-impact crash tests on three separate Volts, and two caught on fire or sparked. The investigation put the Volt in bad light for a bit, but GM was more than cooperative and even allowed scared Volt drivers to sell their cars back or take loaners until the investigation was cleared up. GM eventually recalled the Volt in January 2012, where it placed a piece of steel to the plate that protects the EV's 400-pound battery. However, the recall didn't stop January Volt sales from plunging.

Source: The Detroit News

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