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GM: Volts to be in dealerships nationwide by end of 2011
Chevy Volt
General Motors plans to have Chevrolet Volts in all participating dealerships nationwide by the end of this year, accelerating the launch of its Detroit-built extended-range electric car.

Nationwide ordering will begin in the second quarter, GM said today in a statement.

The Volt has already launched in California, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Texas and Washington, D.C. Deliveries in Michigan will start in February and March, spokesman Rob Peterson said. GM had previously said it planned to sell Volts in all 50 states by mid-2012.

GM is hoping the Volt will bring new customers to Chevrolet, which accounts for about 70% of its U.S. sales volume. Chevrolet marketing chief Rick Scheidt said the brand is accelerating the Volt rollout partially because of increased showroom traffic in launch markets to see the vehicle. GM's statement cited Criswell Chevrolet, a metropolitan Washington, D.C., dealership, which has 10 to 15 customers visit weekly who are considering the Volt. Many of those customers own non-GM brands.

The rest of the U.S. will start to receive Volt deliveries in the third quarter, GM said today. From July to September, deliveries will start in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. The remaining states are expected to receive deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2011, GM said.

GM plans to build more than 25,000 Volts at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant this year, up from the original target of about 10,000, CEO Dan Akerson has said.

After that, the automaker may try to produce 120,000 Volts annually, U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., told the Free Press on Wednesday, relaying a conversation with Akerson. Executives are talking about making that the production target for 2012, well above the current estimate of 45,000, a company official familiar with the discussions said.

To sell the Volt, a Chevrolet dealer must agree to keep one as a demo and install a couple of charging stations. The Volt can run for an estimated 35 miles on battery power before switching to its gasoline-powered generator.

The decision to accelerate the national rollout was influenced by Chevrolet dealers like Criswell Chevrolet in Gaithersburg, Md., which has seen a surge of consumers interested in the Volt.

"The Volt is clearly bringing new customers to Chevrolet," said Harry E. Criswell III, president and owner of Criswell Chevrolet "We are seeing 10 to 15 customers a week who are seriously considering buying a Volt. Many of them own competitive brands and now have a Chevy on their shopping list because of the Volt."

Some of that consumer interest has been fueled by prestigious industry awards and recognitions for the Volt, including:

2011 North American Car of the Year
Motor Trend 2011 Car of the Year
Green Car Journal 2011 Green Car of the Year
Car and Driver 10Best for 2011
Ward's AutoWorld 10 Best Engines for 2011
AUTOMOBILE Magazine 2011 Automobile of the Year
2010 Breakthrough Technology, by Popular Mechanics

"Such recognition provides customers with credible, expert endorsement of new models, which is important for vehicles like the Volt that feature significant new technologies," said Scheidt. "Based on the awards the Volt has received, and the number of consumers expressing interest in the technology, we believe the Volt is the right car at the right time."

The Volt is an electric vehicle that offers a total driving range of up to 379 miles, based on EPA estimates. For the first 35 miles, the Volt can drive gas- and tailpipe-emissions-free using a full charge of electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt's battery runs low, a gas-powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 344 miles on a full tank.

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