AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) - Texas, and three other states will join the states where GeneralMotors will roll out its electric car, the Chevrolet Volt ,GM CEO Ed Whitacre announced Thursday.
The debut list originally included Washington, D.C., Californiaand Michigan. GM added New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to thelist in a press conference in Austin Thursday.
Austin will be the first Texas city where the Volt will go onsale because it is known as an environmentally conscious place,Whitacre said. GM expects to quickly run short of Volts when thecars go on sale in November.
"This is a new technology. This is green. This is electric,"Whitacre said. Other Texas markets will get the car shortly afterAustin, likely in 2011, he said.
Whitacre drove up to a downtown Austin hotel in a Volt, whichcan travel 40 miles on pure-electric power. After that, the smallgasoline engine will kick in to generate power for the electricmotor.
The distance the car can travel will eliminate the "rangeanxiety" some consumers have with electric cars, Whitacre told anAustin chamber of commerce audience.
GM expects the Volt to sell briskly from the start, TonyDiSalle, the car's marketing director, said in a webcast onThursday.
"We understand that we'll be short early, but we'll continue tomarket the car," he said.
The automaker plans to produce 10,000 Volts by the end of the2011 calendar year and an additional 30,000 in 2012.
Volts will be sold first in California, Washington, Austin andthe New York City metropolitan area, DiSalle said. They'll arrivein Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut and the rest of Texas and NewYork in 2011. The Volt will be available in all 50 states 12 to 18months after its launch, DiSalle said.
GM will require Chevrolet dealers selling Volts to keep one inthe store for customers to view and drive even if there's highdemand. They also must have certified Volt specialists in sales andservice, as well as a 240-volt charging station in the dealership,DiSalle said.
The Volt will have electric car competition shortly after itgoes on sale. Nissan Motor Co. plans to start selling its Leafall-electric car in December. The company says it will get up to100 miles on a single charge. The Leaf has no backup engine onboard and must be recharged after its batteries are depleted beforeit can travel again. But it also uses no gasoline.
The four-door hatchback Leaf will have a base price of $32,780,but it's eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, making it closerto $25,000. The Volt is expected to cost around $35,000, or $27,500with the tax credit, although pricing has not been announced.
Whitacre said that to call attention to the rollout, theChevrolet Volt will embark on a four-day "Freedom Drive" fromAustin to New York.
Whitacre told the Texas audience GM has made progressfinancially over the past year.
"For starters, we're making money again. That's an importantmilestone for the new General Motors," he said.
General Motors Co. emerged from U.S. government-ledrestructuring last July. The automaker plans to conduct a publicstock offering that's at the heart of the company's revival.
The U.S. Treasury Department has said it expects to sell some ofits 61 percent stake in GM when the company goes public. Theinitial public offering could happen as early as October. It'sexpected to be among the largest initial public offerings in U.S.history.
GM has said the IPO may occur in late 2010 or early 2011, andWhitacre said Thursday he had no updates on when it will be.Despite a still sluggish economy, he said this is a good year for apublic offering.
"We're aiming for it as soon as we can get there," he said. "Wehave some things that we have yet to do. I can't have a date, but Ithink this is a good year to do it if we can get everything done. Ithink this is a great year."
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