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GM to expand Volt launch markets to include New York, Texas, report says


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GM to expand Volt launch markets to include New York, Texas, report says

Ursula Zerilli

Automotive News -- June 30, 2010 - 3:19 pm ET

DETROIT— General Motors Co. is expanding the launch of the Chevrolet Volt hybrid car to markets in the New York region and Austin, Texas, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

GM Chairman and Chief Executive Edward E. Whitacre Jr. will publically announce the plan Thursday in a speech to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the paper said.

A GM spokesperson declined to comment.

The Volt is an extended range electric vehicle with a gasoline engine. It is geared for drivers and commuters that travel 40 miles or less a day. If the battery becomes depleted, the gasoline engine kicks in to give the Volt an additional range of about 300 miles.

It can be recharged using a conventional household electrical outlet and is a cornerstone of GM's efforts to recast itself.

On Tuesday, Whitacre and other GM executives provided a briefing on the “new” GM to investors and auto analysts. The automaker hopes to emerge from U.S. government control this fall with an initial public offering.

GM originally planned to launch the Volt hybrid in California, Michigan, and Washington D.C. this fall. The amended markets, in New York and in Austin, Texas, will allow GM to showcase its research and engineering efforts in the nation's biggest media market, and in proximity to Wall Street, as well as truck-loving customers in Texas.

GM also wants to showcase the Volt's ability to operate in hot and cold regions.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100630/OEM/100639984/1186#ixzz0sNSEcySR

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NYC, Austin added to Volt 'launch'

Michigan also among at least 5 target areas for electric vehicle set to be available in Nov.

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

New York and Austin, Texas, will be among at least five "launch" markets for the Volt, General Motors Co.'s extended-range electric car.

GM Chairman and CEO Edward Whitacre Jr. will make the announcement at a speech today to the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Also today, Volt product and marketing director Tony DiSalle will host a live webcast "to provide additional details of the Volt retail plans, including expected production volumes and cadence of the Volt's national rollout."

Because GM will build about 8,000 plug-in Volts during the first year of production, it is targeting sales to several key areas, including Michigan, California and Washington, D.C. The Volt is to be available by November.

By focusing on a limited number of markets, GM is working to establish partnerships with utilities and others to ensure that Volt owners will have access to recharging stations.

"GM doesn't want to distribute these vehicles randomly," said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

The Detroit automaker also hopes that concentrating Volts in limited areas will maximize attention and buzz.

This week, GM said it would also sell the Volt in China and Canada in 2011, and will introduce the technology in an Opel Ampera for sale in Europe next year.

GM says the Volt will be able to travel up to 40 miles on battery power alone, and its range will be expanded by up to 310 additional miles when the gasoline engine kicks on to generate more electricity to power the battery.

Pricing will be unveiled this summer, and GM is still waiting for a ruling from the EPA on the Volt's mpg rating.

It's hard to overstate how much GM has riding on a successful launch of the Volt. The field of electric vehicles will get crowded as Nissan introduces its all-electric Leaf by year's end; Ford Motor Co. is set to release an electric version of its Focus next year.

And several electric startups like Tesla Motor and Fisker Automotive are working to open factories and bring cheaper electric vehicles to market by 2012.

In April, GM said it would invest $121 million in its Detroit-Hamtramck factory, where it is assembling the Volt -- bringing its total investment in the plant to about $500 million.

That month, it began assembling an early run of vehicles to ferret out any flaws before the run of consumer vehicles begins.

The automaker plans to build about 4,000 Volts through the summer of 2011.

GM executives believe the Volt can make GM cool again, and convince customers to give the Detroit automakers a chance again.

Last month, GM announced that the first 4,400 Volt buyers are eligible for free home-charging stations.

The 240-volt charging stations will be provided by two companies and are part of a federally funded project overseen by the Energy Department.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100701/AUTO01/7010362/1148/auto01/NYC--Austin-added-to-Volt--launch-#ixzz0sRCbgEY3

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Chevrolet Volt adds Texas, N.Y, N.J., Conn. for launch



AUSTIN, Texas -- Chevrolet will add Texas, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut to Michigan, California and the Washington, D.C. area as target markets for initial sales of the long-awaited Volt electric car which goes into production in November at General Motors' Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, CEO Ed Whitacre said today.

Speaking to a chamber of commerce lunch in Austin, Texas, Whitacre said the four new states were chosen because GM is confident the battery and gasoline engine Volt can perform well in long commutes and in congested urban traffic.

"The Volt can be your primary vehicle, giving you the freedom to drive gas-free without the stress of planning every trip," Whitacre said.

Austin will be the first Texas city where the Volt will be sold. Austin Energy, a local municipal-owned utility, has committed to installing recharging stations for vehicles like the Volt and the Nissan Leaf.

Drivers will be able to drive the Volt as far as 40 miles solely on the power of a 16-kilowatt lithium-ion battery. After that a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine kicks in, providing about another 300 miles on one tank of gas.

A portable 120-volt vehicle charge cord that can recharge the Volt in nine to 10 hours, using a standard residential outlet, comes standard with every car. With a 240-volt outlet it recharges in about three to four hours.

Early Volt buyers may be eligible for one of 4,400 free 240-volt home charging stations from ECOtality Inc. or Coulomb Technologies, under a program administered by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Whitacre also said Chevrolet will add five Texas electric utilities and five Northeast utilities to a demonstration program that provides Volts and charging stations to key utilities. The program allows the utilities to study charging station installation process and to solicit customer feedback.



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