DETROIT -- General Motors will idle the plant that builds the Chevrolet Volt for more than a month to curb rising inventories of the plug-in hybrid.
GM will shut down production at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant for five weeks, starting the week of March 19. GM plans to resume production on April 23, a GM spokesman said. "We need to maintain the right inventory levels and continue to meet demand," he 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.
Volt sales are being watched closely 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 gasoline-powered generator kicks on to power an onboard electric drive unit.
The vehicle 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 has 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.
The Volt and its sister car, the Opel Ampera, are the only vehicles assembled at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant.