DETROIT -- General Motors will idle the Michigan assembly plant that builds the Chevrolet Volt for more than a month to curb rising inventories of the plug-in hybrid.
GM informed 1,300 workers at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in Michigan on Thursday that it will shut down production for five weeks, starting the week of March 19.
GM plans to resume production on April 23, spokesman Chris Lee said.
"We need to maintain the right inventory levels and continue to meet demand," Lee said.
At the end of February, GM's Volt inventory stood at 6,300 units, enough to last 154 days at current sales rates.
Volt sales rebounded in February to 1,023 units. January's sales of 603 units marked a five-month low following a federal investigation into battery fires in the Volt.
Federal regulators closed the probe in January after determining the Volt was safe. GM executives have said they believe that unfavorable publicity from the investigation hurt sales.
The plan to suspend Volt output was reported earlier today by WardsAuto and The Detroit Free Press.
All eyes on Volt
Volt sales are being closely watched in the industry as several automakers prepare to market their own electric vehicles this year and in 2013. The car runs on battery power for about 35 miles before an onboard gas-powered generator kicks on to power an onboard electric drive unit.
The vehicle also has served as a halo for GM. CEO Dan Akerson points to the Volt as a symbol of GM's innovation and fresh thinking. He's pressed engineers and product planners to slash costs while extending the technology to other models. A Cadillac coupe featuring the same technology is due out in 2013.
Last year, GM missed a self-imposed Volt sales target of 10,000 units, selling 7,671 in the United States. Since then, GM executives have backed off an earlier production forecast of 60,000 Volts for 2012, three-fourths of which were to be sold in the United States.
Production of the redesigned Chevy Malibu is slated to start at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant later this year, once new engines become available. For now, the Volt and its sister car, the Opel Ampera, are the only vehicles assembled there.