Earlier this week, General Motors quietly restarted production of the Volt and its sister the Ampera at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.

The company did not issue a press release, and we only found out by direct inquiry to GM late Monday evening.

GM’s reason for not splashing the news is because its people felt they were merely sticking to their plan as published all along.

Now open for business.

“The plant was closed for four weeks,” said GM Spokesperson Michelle Bunker. “On May 25th GM announced a $69 million investment in tooling and equipment to support the next-generation Impala. In April 2010, GM announced a $121 million investment to support Malibu production.

Fair enough.

The news

Volts now rolling off the line are coming at three times the previous rate that they were when the plant was closed.

"As the plant validates the new equipment and tooling and begins exclusively building new model year 2012 Chevrolet Volts and launches the 2012 Opel Ampera," Bunker said, "the plant will follow their launch protocol, holding cars for quality testing before being shipped to our dealers in the U.S. and around the world."

The 2012 Volts are now U.S. as well as Euro models, and we asked specifically: Is the Vauxhall and Opel Ampera and Euro Chevy Volt (right and left side drive) also being built yet?

"Yes. The left hand side drive for the Opel Ampera and Euro Chevy Volt are in pre-production and will be shipped this fall," Bunker said.

We do not have specific daily numbers, but they are certainly up, she said, answering the question How many Volts have been built this year (prior to shutdown), and how many remain to be built? as follows:

“As a result of the plant upgrades, planned Volt and Ampera production capacity this year will increase to 16,000 units, including exports and a fleet of several hundred demonstration units sent to U.S. dealers,” Bunker said. “In 2012, global production capacity is expected up to 60,000 vehicles with an estimated 45,000 to be delivered in the United States.”

A Chevy in Shanghai.

Bunker concedes there are not a lot of changes to 2012s .

Some available features will include:

• Standard keyless access with passive locking; the car automatically locks and unlocks with the key fob in close proximity of vehicle
• OnStar Turn by Turn navigation standard for three years, and available in-dash navigation system
• Chevrolet MyLink including Bluetooth streaming audio for music and select phones (late availability)
• Standard AM/FM stereo with CD player and MP3 playback and 7-inch diagonal color touch-screen display
• Available 17-inch sport alloy wheels with black inserts (late availability).

As previously reported , the 2012 Volt is to be rolled out to the remaining U.S. states by year's end. GM said it decreased the 2012's price by $1,000, and expanded options from last year's three option packages to seven for 2012.

The 2012 base model is to be $39,995 including an $850 destination charge. This model however lacks the Bose sound system and navigation that came standard on the $41,000 2011.

As production is not scheduled to significantly increase until next year, Dham is still making do with the same number of employees, but GM is looking to add a second shift by the end of the year, Bunker said.

For those who say the 2011 Volt has not sold well, this was simply not true. It has always been a limited availability car until now, and still is not high volume.

“As of today there were less than hundred 2011's left and we suspect most of those are sold as well,” Bunker said yesterday. “It's highly probable that all of the 2011's will be sold out before 2012 models arrive. Just yesterday we announced that North and South Carolina are open for delivery and are on track for our roll-out for the rest of the year.”

Production at the Dham plant of the all-new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu will begin next year. The 2013 Malibu launch will be led by the Eco model, expected to achieve 38 miles per gallon on the highway.

Your questions answered

Remember way back over a month ago when GM offered to field questions from GM-Volt readers? Did you think we forgot about it? We did not, but it took this long to chase down the answers. Michelle Bunker was kind enough to answer the following:

Q: Has the 2012 lease price been settled? If not, can you say whether it will it be more or less?

GM: The lease price hasn't been released yet. Should be sooner rather than later that we'll be able to release the info.

Not just any police car.

Q: RE: Electric drive unit (149 hp). I’d like to see a higher output drive. (Question: Care to comment?)

GM: Will see if I can get engineering to comment. (Still waiting on this one)

Q: Will GM make a small truck or MPV5 version (or SS!)?

GM: We are looking at different applications of Voltec technology. Don't have anything to announce at this time. Appreciate all of your suggestions, ideas.

Q: Anything in the works for Volt power upgrades/options?

GM: Not at this time, we don't have anything to announce.

Q: Some people have expressed interest in a 20AER or 60AER option (battery options). Any movement in this area?

GM: Need to refer this to engineering as it's outside of my arena. (Still waiting for answer)

Q: What about Volt EV (pure EV) that was hinted at by Chelsea. Will Chevrolet have a direct competitor for LEAF and Focus EVs?

GM: No comment except to say that we are watching the market to see how receptive they are to EV's.

Q: CNG or E85 options for the ICE? I thought E85 was in the works for 2012?

GM: Have to check on this with engineering as I haven't heard of any other options for the vehicle. (Still waiting)

Q: Will there be a sunroof option?

GM: Not an option for 2012.

More to follow

Didn't see your question answered? We were limited on what we could forward, and some questions GM chose not to answer, but do not fret. We will keep at it, and in the mean time I have it on better authority (this time) that more Q&A could be set up sooner with someone at GM who is a direct source. Specifically, I am arranging an interview with GM's Pamela Fletcher some time next week.

"Pamela Fletcher is the Global Chief Engineer for Volt and Plug-In Hybrid Electric Powertrains, says her GM biography page. "She is responsible for the Extended Range Electric Vehicle propulsion system in the Chevrolet Volt as well as the propulsion systems in GM’s upcoming line-up of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles."

Do you have any questions for Pam? If they are concerning future tech likely to be in the realm of sensitive intellectual property, and you know GM will never tell you, you might not want to bother asking. But, if you have some reasonable tech or otherwise questions or even semi-prying inquiries in the event you are feeling lucky, and are pretty sure GM can tell without giving away the store, please feel free to let me know.