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Michigan to get 5,300 charging stations for electric cars

More than 5,300 charging stations will be installed in Michigan as the birthplace of the US auto industry prepares for the introduction of electric cars like the Chevrolet Volt, General Motors said.

The bulk of the charging stations will be installed in private homes by local utility companies and more than 1,500 Chevrolet dealers across the United States also plan to install charging stations for customers.

GM said it will install 350 stations for its employees at facilities across Michigan.

"We think this opens up doors for those Volt owners who want to charge at work or who don't have a place at home to charge the car overnight," Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman for global product operations told an electric vehicle conference Tuesday.

"They'll be able to drive electrically when they can, and they can drive on gasoline when they need to."

The Volt will be launched late this year in Michigan, California, Texas, Washington and New York.

It can reach speeds up to 100 miles per hour (160 kilometers) on battery power alone, Stephens insisted as he dismissed a recent controversy among the industry press that the Volt should be considered a hybrid, rather than a fully electric vehicle.

The Volt is also equipped with a gasoline-powered engine so it won't stall in the middle of the road if owners drive too far without a charge.

GM says it can drive 25 to 50 miles (40 to 82 kilometers) on a single charge and up to 310 miles (500 kilometers) with the help of the gasoline engine.

Stephens said that gas-powered motor does not actually drive the Volt but instead powers the electric motor, a new type of system for which GM recently obtained a patent.

"We came up with a unique power flow system that keeps electricity coming even when the battery is depleted," he told journalists on the sidelines of the conference.

"Any mechanical energy is converted specifically to electricity, even when the charge in the Volt's on board battery has been depleted."