DETROIT -- Tom Stephens, General Motors Co.'s global product chief, said today that Chevrolet will begin shipping Volt plug-in hybrid sedans to dealers as soon as the EPA issues a mileage label for the vehicle.
The EPA label certifying the Volt's mileage should come “any day,” he said. The label is necessary to sell the car.
GM's Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant has built Volts for shipment since early this month, Stephens said.
He spoke this morning on the sidelines of an event celebrating the Volt's being named Motor Trend magazine's 2011 Car of the Year. The event took place inside the wind tunnel of GM's Warren Technical Center in suburban Detroit.
The Volt is the most aerodynamic vehicle GM has produced, Stephens said.
GM says the Volt can travel 25 to 50 miles on battery power alone and an additional 310 miles when assisted by a 1.4-liter engine with a full tank of gasoline.
Stephens, a GM vice chairman, joined more than two dozen GM executives and technical people on stage with the Volt to pass around and hold high the Motor Trend trophy, as if it were professional hockey's Stanley Cup.
Stephens said the U.S. bailout last year provided funding so development of the Volt could proceed 24/7 even during bankruptcy and a cash crisis that gripped the automaker.
The Volt should reach dealer showrooms just days after GM holds about a $12 billion initial public offering this week that will allow the U.S. government to sell about one-third of its 61 percent stake in the automaker.
Stephens said the carmaker will bring the Volt to market on deadline next month almost four years after GM showed a concept of the vehicle at the 2007 Detroit auto show.
“The Volt does everything we said it was going to do the very first day we announced it -- and more,” he said. “If you recall back then how many people were saying that they don't even have a battery, they don't have motors or any of this, can this be real?
“The fact is it is real and you can drive it now.”
Stephens said GM is maintaining its plan to produce 10,000 Volts through 2011 and 45,000 in 2012.
That could change depending on customer demand and the ability of suppliers to provide parts for the vehicle, he said.