GM’s Volt to Reach 1st Customers Right After Thanksgiving

Los Angeles, Calif. — Joe Gionet, a retiree from Orange County, can’t wait until he can drive home his Volt, an electric car from GM, and is expecting it sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, he tells us on the first day of the LA Auto Show, in Los Angeles, California on Wednesday. Gionet, who bought the car for both environmental reasons and because he’s an early technology adopter, is one of a dozen of the first customers that will receive the Volt in just a few days and weeks.

GM, who is relying on the Volt to help revive its brand and sales, is leaning heavily on marketing the car around the fact that it has a small engine that can kick-in — called a series hybrid — which can extend the car’s range significantly. While GM’s biggest competitor, the all-electric LEAF from Nissan, has an advertised 100-mile range, GM is advertising its range as hundreds of miles.

To show just how far the car can drive on a single charge, the GM team took a road trip from Detroit to California, charging the car at night, and taking 4.5 days to drive the route. GM has also been looking to trade market the term “range anxiety,” and has been launching ad spots, showing off the “freedom” that the Volt’s range can deliver.

GM said this morning that it plans to deliver 300 to 500 Volts before the end of the year, 10,000 Volts next year, and 45,000 the year after.  GM says it has 220,000 “hand raisers” that have shown interest in buying a Volt.

The automaker, which is expected to price an IPO on Wednesday night and start trading on Thursday, laid it on thick at the press conference Wednesday morning, calling the Volt “analogous to a moonshot,” “maybe the most sophisticated car ever built,” “a “game changer,” and “epic.” (See our previous coverage of GM’s IPO).

A couple of lucky early testers have already been driving their Volts around Southern California. Chelsea Sexton, the well-known EV advocate and star of Who Killed the Electric Car (and former GM employee) told us she has been driving her Volt around for about a week, and giving GM feedback on how it feels. Sexton’s consensus so far: thumbs up.

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