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Volt’s Nationwide Rollout Could Stretch Into 2012

Production, dealer issues could delay process.

by on Jun.21, 2010

A prototype 2011 Chevrolet Volt wends its way through Los Angeles traffic. The official retail launch is November 2010.

Barring some unexpected delay, General Motors hopes to ship its first extended-range electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt, to dealers in a handful of key markets by November, but expanding availability to the rest of the country could take longer than expected, company officials warn.

Some potential buyers might not have access to a Volt until well into 2012 due to production challenges, dealer issues – and the challenge of making sure there’s a community infrastructure capable of supporting the Volt, which GM prefers to call an E-REV, rather than a plug-in hybrid.

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“The Volt is still on schedule” for a November 2010 retail launch, the program’s manager, Tony Posawatz, tells GM-Volt.com.

The complex vehicle, which blends a battery drive system with a gasoline-powered generator, will see a slow ramp up in production to ensure that both GM and its suppliers get things right.  That means that the 2011 Chevy Volt will initially be offered in just three regions: California, Michigan and metro Washington, D.C.

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Volt to Go to California First

National roll-out to follow.

by on Dec.02, 2009

The first production versions of the Chevrolet Volt - a prototype is shown here - will go to California.

The first production versions of the Chevrolet Volt - a prototype is shown here - will go to California.

The first cars off the line will be heading to California, late next year, when General Motors begins production of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

Other markets will follow in a planned nationwide roll-out, the automaker will announce, later today, at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

“It is natural that California is the lead market for Volt. Not only is it the largest automotive market, Californians are known to be leaders in adopting groundbreaking new technologies,” said Brent Dewar, GM vice president, Global Chevrolet Brand.

High-Voltage News!

High-Voltage News!

There’s yet another reason why Volt will premier in the Golden State and not, say, Michigan or even New York.  The plug-in – GM actually prefers the term, “Extended-Range Electric Vehicle,” or E-REV – uses new lithium-ion batteries, a technology particularly sensitive to temperature variations.

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Chevy Won’t Separately Lease Volt Battery

Consumers tell GM they don't want to buy car, lease battery.

by on Dec.01, 2009

Chevrolet will stick to a conventional model when it begins selling the Volt plug-in, next year.

Chevrolet will stick to a conventional model when it begins selling the Volt plug-in, next year.

General Motors has decided that it will charge a set price for its upcoming Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, rather than allowing customers to buy the vehicle and then lease the battery for a set monthly fee.

That alternative approach is the one Nissan appears to be pursuing for its own high-tech car, the Leaf battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, which will charge into U.S. showrooms shortly after GM puts Volt on sale, in late 2010.

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One of the biggest challenges for the auto industry, in the push towards electrification is keeping costs down to a level that consumers will be willing to spend.    “Most people aren’t willing to pay a premium just because a vehicle is green,” cautions Chance Parker, J.D. Power and Associates group vice president and general manager.

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Turning Plug-In Hybrids Into a Viable Business

Detroit conference faces challenges to going green.

by on Oct.20, 2009

The first pre-production versions of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid roll off the line at the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.

The first pre-production versions of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in.

Though it’s still a year before it finally rolls into showroom, the Chevrolet Volt may be one of the auto industry’s best-known nameplates.  But gaining publicity for the breakthrough technology is likely to be the easy part.  In the coming months, General Motors will have to transform its plug-in hybrid into a viable business case.

And that, admits Tom Stephens, GM’s director of powertrain operations, won’t be easy.  In its initial incarnation, the dual drive system under Volt’s hood will be expensive and complex.  And, at least for now, there isn’t a well-developed infrastructure that would let Volt buyers readily charge up the vehicle when they’re away from home.  In fact, it may not be easy for some potential customers to charge up even there.

Transforming plug-in technology from a promising, environmentally-friendly concept into a viable business case is the central topic of a well-attended conference, in Detroit, this week.  Originally, organizers hoped to attract about 300 participants to “The Business of Plugging In.”  The final tally is expected to top 700.

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GM isn’t the only maker exploring the options offered by plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, or PHEVs, automobiles meant to let motorists drive for extended periods on electric power, then automatically switch to gasoline when their batteries run down.  Ford plans to bring out a version of its own, as does Toyota, which next year will launch a fleet test of a PHEV version of the popular Prius.

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