Volt starts shipping to Chevy dealers in the U.S.

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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After years of constant media buzz, the time has come for General Motors' much-vaunted Volt to hit Chevrolet dealers across the U.S. Promised mid-November, GM is following through with deliveries to the initial 160 dealers south of the 49th.

The first run of plug-in electric Volts left GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant Monday, and are heading to California, New York, Washington D.C., and Texas.

"Today is a historic milestone for Chevrolet," said Tony DiSalle, Volt marketing director in the U.S. "We have redefined automotive transportation with the Volt, and soon the first customers will be able to experience gas-free commuting with the freedom to take an extended trip whenever or wherever they want."

While a form of hybrid, being that it uses both electric and gasoline power such as cars like Toyota's popular Prius, soon offered with plug-in capability and a model that enjoys about 75 percent of total hybrid sales in the U.S., the Volt uses electric propulsion, dubbed Voltec, as its primary drive system, although a small 1.4-litre gasoline engine is utilized for recharging purposes only, allowing it to travel longer distances of up to 610 km (379 miles) between charges or fill-ups. Therefore, unlike all-electric cars, the Volt doesn't rely on special charging stations for trips beyond a set commuting range, an infrastructure that for the most part doesn't exist yet.

Official EPA results were recently released that show the Volt achieves an mpg-e (equivalent) estimated rating of 93 combined city/highway (2.5 L/100km) when running on electricity alone, and in this mode it's good for 25 to 50 miles (40 to 80 km) of travel, depending on conditions (hills, cold and other factors can reduce battery capability). The EPA also gave the Volt a 37-mpg (6.3 L/100km) rating when using its gasoline-powered generator to replenish the battery, while GM estimated that most users would see an average of 60 mpg (3.9 L/100km) when combining gasoline assisted and pure electric propulsion.

The Volt is already racking up industry awards, with three of the most prestigious so far being Motor Trend, Automobile Magazine and the Green Car Journal, which gave it highest honour status as Car of the Year.

GM is quick to promote that the Volt is the only mass-produced U.S.-built electric vehicle, a fact that will ring home for those customers concerned with unfair trade issues put forward by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the World Trade Organization. 

Canadians waiting to purchase a Volt will have to wait until the second half of 2011, when it first will go on sale in seven select markets including Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Oshawa, Ottawa-Gatineau, Vancouver and Victoria.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hybrid, EV, Chevrolet, 2011, Volt, $40,000 - $49,999, Electric,

Geographic location: U.S.

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