General Motors Co has withdrawn its application for $14 billion in subsidized loans from the U.S. Department of Energy, saying it has the financial strength to fund investment in more fuel-efficient and electric vehicles on its own.
Separately, GM's top car designer Ed Welburn said the automaker will accelerate distribution of the Chevrolet Volt electric car so it's sold in every U.S. state by the end of this year. Welburn made his comments in a speech at the Washington, D.C., auto show Thursday.
Previously, GM had said the $41,000 Volt would be sold in every state by sometime next year. Volt sales began in December in California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., and Texas. It's scheduled to go on sale in Michigan next.
The Volt, which provides up to 50 miles of battery-powered driving before a gasoline-powered engine kicks in, is priced at $41,000 before accounting for tax credits. GM plans to make 10,000 Volts this year. Welburn said the automaker is looking at ways to increase production and expand use of the technology.
GM has said it is losing money on the first-generation Volt, in part because of the cost of developing its 400-pound, lithium-ion battery pack.
Chief Executive Dan Akerson and other GM executives have said they hope to bring down the cost of the Volt and push ahead in an area where they see a lead over Toyota Motor Corp.
The automaker said on Thursday it has 300,000 consumers registered as interested in buying a Volt.
GM's loan move could provide a public-relations boost to GM, which has struggled to distance itself from the controversy of a $50 billion bailout and the stigma of having become "Government Motors" after being restructured in bankruptcy.
GM had initially seen the Department of Energy loan program as a potential source of financing that could stave off bankruptcy in 2008.
The automaker submitted its application for a low-interest loan under the program in October 2009, near the depth of the sharp downturn in U.S. auto sales.
"This decision is based on our confidence in GM's overall progress and strong, global business performance," Welburn said.
"Withdrawing our (Department of Energy) loan application is consistent with our goal to carry minimal debt on our balance sheet."
Shares of GM have gained 16 percent since its November initial public offering.