According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, General Motors Company plans to expand its launch markets for the Chevrolet Volt hybrid to include areas of New York state and Austin, Texas.
The report said that GM’s chairman and CEO, Ed Whitacre, will make an announcement of the decision to include the markets during a speech to the Austin Chamber of Commerce today. A spokesman for GM declined to comment on the report.
GM’s Chevrolet Volt is an extended range electric vehicle (EREV) designed to serve the needs of metropolitan drivers who typically travel up to 40 miles per day or less. The vehicle is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack and an auxiliary internal combustion engine that powers the generator to extend the car’s total operating range by 300 miles once the battery becomes depleted. According to GM, the Volt has a fuel-efficiency rating of 40 mpg while operating in the gas-powered mode.
The automaker says the Volt’s battery pack can be recharged in about 6.5 hours using a standard 100-volt household electrical outlet. Under normal driving conditions, the vehicle will consume approximately 2,520 kilowatt-hours of electricity and will cost between one and three cents per mile to operate.
Earlier this week, GM held a briefing for analysts and investors at its technology center in suburban Detroit aimed at showcasing it current and future products and laying the groundwork for an initial public offering which could come as early as November. The IPO would ostensibly help the automaker emerge from federal control by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Originally, GM had planned to roll out the Chevrolet Volt in select regions of California and Michigan as well as Washington D.C. The addition of New York state and Austin, Texas will allow the automaker to showcase the Volt to two key demographic groups – Wall Street investors and Texans with their long-standing love for larger, less environmentally-friendly cars and trucks. Selling both groups on the new technology could go a long way toward securing GM’s future profitability as it works to recast its image with a still-skeptical American public.
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. The newly added markets will also give GM the opportunity to prove that the Volt’s lithium-ion battery technology is well suited to hotter and colder regions of the North American market.
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