A couple days ago in Michigan, the Chevrolet Volt was praised by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, even as GM’s Micky Bly was at a nearby function releasing snippets about future generation plans, and more.

LaHood’s comments came during a tour of the Flint Truck Assembly plant Wednesday, where he said the Volt set the pace for all U.S. automakers to follow.

“The Volt I believe can be a model for the American car manufacturers,” he said.

A model for all other American manufacturers to follow.

LaHood, who also visited the Bay City assembly plant, said the Volt showcases the innovation in many of GM’s products that led it to post a $36.2 billion first quarter profit.

His tour of the Flint plant – where the Volt’s gasoline engine will be built – followed a $109 million investment by GM that will add or retain around 100 jobs in Flint and Bay City.

LaHood said also that the $7,500 federal tax credit for EV buyers has been a good thing, and the president wants to amend the tax code to make the credit into a point-of-sale rebate.

Meanwhile on the same day in Detroit, Micky Bly, GM's executive director of global electrical systems, hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries also spoke about the Volt and related topics.

“It gets heads turning no matter where I go,” Bly said at a Detroit Economic Club luncheon of his personal Volt he has had for about six months. “It’s distinctive.”

With 56.2 mpg as the new 2017-2025 CAFE number being floated by the White House, Ray LaHood had only good things to say about the Volt.

As for the next iterations of the Volt, Bly divulged the majority of GM’s attention is being spent on battery development and confirmed much work has already taken place for gen-two, and gen-three.

“As far as gen-two, gen-three, we really haven’t made any announcements about the car itself, but what I can tell you is the battery side of things,” Bly said. “We’ve already started extensive development of the battery for gen-two, gen-three at a research level.”

Without being more specific, Bly said GM is trying to decide whether to make the vehicle more efficient, or work on the same efficiency at a lower cost.

“That’s where we’re spending all of our time right now is really on that next-generation battery technology,” Bly said. “Still nothing to announce there about other fuel capabilities on the vehicle, we’ll start to see some things later this year we’ll be announcing then.”

Bly’s comments came during a meeting with David Vieau, president and CEO of A123 Systems, and Dan Galves, a member of the Deutsche Bank, where the discussion was on the prospect of Detroit gaining a world leadership role in electric vehicle production.

Micky Bly shares a little on the next Volt batteries.

Galves, who spoke for the Deutsche Bank’s Global Auto/Auto Parts equity research team, predicted 20 percent of the world's lithium-ion advanced-tech automotive batteries will be made in Michigan by 2015

“The U.S. has about 30 percent of that capacity and Michigan represents about two-thirds of that,” said Galves, a former GM employee, “so 20 percent of the world’s capacity of lithium ion batteries we think will be in Michigan.”

Galves said about 25 percent of the world’s vehicles are made in the U.S., and it is a significant milestone for Michigan to take 20 percent of the emerging lithium-ion battery market.

What is more, the burgeoning battery market could mean new opportunity for the country now weighed down by a foreign trade deficit, Galves said, adding he expects the advanced-tech automotive battery industry to be a $14 billion market by 2015.

“This is not a burden to America,” he said, “This is the biggest job opportunity, the biggest economic opportunity to reduce that trade deficit.”

This video outlines some of the promises and challenges facing electric vehicles today.

Bly noted GM will release its next-gen eAssist this summer, and is looking at ways to incorporate battery assist in many more of its vehicles.

“Now that were on our second - working on our third - generation of technology, you can start transforming that down to smaller and smaller cars,” said Bly. “We need to drive this technology into many different elements.”

The eAssist technology for internal combustion-powered vehicles is estimated to improve highway efficiency by 25 percent, and in light of stricter CAFE requirements looming , is expected to be increasingly utilized by GM.

“We will continue to see that technology grow,” Bly said.

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