[ad#post_ad]GM CEO Ed Whitacre announced that GM paid back its bankruptcy bailout loans of $5.4 billion to the US Treasury Department, and $1.1 billion to the Canadian government.  This payback is five years ahead of schedule and completes repayment of $7.8 billion in total loans. The government also paid GM $50 billion in exchange for 60% ownership stake in the company. Whitacre later stated he also believes US taxpayers will be made whole too after GM issues an IPO possibly later this year.

"I think the stock could be worth a lot and the taxpayers could get all their money, plus," Whitacre told reporters . "I'm an optimistic guy."

"We are encouraged that GM has repaid its debt well ahead of schedule and confident that the company is on a strong path to viability," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement.

Whitacre made the announcement at a Kansas GM plant where he also announced GM would be putting an additional $120 million investment into the Detroit-Hamtramck plant where the Volt will be built.

Ostensibly, the new money will go into expanding that plant's production capacity so that GM could use it to build additional Chevrolet Malibus.  Though in theory, the increased production capacity could be used to build more Volts if demand is greater than predicted, or more Malibus if its less than expected.

In its current configuration the plant could build up to 60,000 Volts annually.  The Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS are also built there.

Buried in Whitacre's discussion was an additional nugget.  He appeared to verified previous comments he made to GM-Volt that Volt would roll out early. He specifically stated the car will be released one month early, in October.

Though GM has yet to announce pricing or the ordering and launch process, you can bet they have big plans to announce.

"We'll have quite a bit more to talk about later this summer," said Volt marketing manager John Hughes.

As to whether GM will release the Volt early after all. "Will have to stay tuned," says Hughes.

In even more good news for GM (but bad news for Japanese automakers) a new AP poll shows 38 percent of Americans think US cars are better than Asian ones and only 33 percent believe the opposite is true. In 2006, 46 percent believed Asian cars were better and only 29 percent preferred those made by US companies.