DETROIT — A year after the government's big auto-industry bailouts, President Barack Obama on Friday trumpeted increased car sales and progress on battery-powered vehicles as a beacon of success in his administration's battle to revive a hurting U.S. economy.
Touring Chrysler and General Motors assembly plants, Obama argued that his administration's unpopular $60 billion bailout of the two companies — essentially government-funded forced bankruptcies — was paying off.
Chrysler and GM both made announcements Friday that supported the president's words.
Chrysler said it will add nearly 900 jobs at a factory in suburban Detroit and spare it from a planned closure. The jobs will staff a second shift at Chrysler's assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Mich., just north of Detroit, which makes the slow-selling Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring midsize sedans.
In the fall, the company plans to start selling new versions of the cars that it says will be updated from top to bottom. The second shift will begin in the first quarter of next year, Chrysler said.
Meanwhile, GM said Friday that it is boosting production capacity for its new Chevrolet Volt due to strong public interest in the electric car that goes on sale this year.
GM will now have a production capacity of 45,000 vehicles in 2012, up from previous plans for 30,000 vehicles.
GM says the Volt, priced at $41,000, can go 340 miles on a single battery charge. It is powered purely by the battery in the first 40 miles, and then uses a small tank of gasoline to create an additional charge for the remaining 300 miles. Chevrolet dealers began taking orders this week for the 2011 model.