DETROIT: In a bid to show the demand for the upcoming all-electric Chevrolet Volt, a proponent of the car has released details of an unofficial waiting list for the vehicle with over 33,000 prospective buyers.
Lyle Dennis, a New York neurologist who has emerged as a prominent enthusiast for the battery-powered car from General Motors Corp, has been assembling a list of prospective Volt buyers for over a year through his Web site GM-Volt.com. On Tuesday, Dennis released details gleaned from the list showing that 33,411 people had signed up to show their intent to buy a Volt when the rechargeable car is released in 2010.
The list shows the highest number of potential Volt buyers in California, Texas, Florida and Michigan. It also includes potential buyers from 46 countries outside the United States. The average price buyers were willing to pay for the car was $31,261 -- substantially less than the $40,000 GM has said it will cost to build the first-generation of the car equipped with a massive lithium-ion battery pack.
GM has been racing to finish development of the Volt in time for the planned launch as the centerpiece of its effort to break a costly association with gas-guzzling vehicles at a time when truck sales are tumbling and gas prices remain high. Like most automakers, GM typically keeps its vehicle development programs under tight wraps and shuns publicity.
But with the Volt, GM has taken the opposite approach, actively consulting enthusiasts like Dennis and featuring the concept version of the Volt in high-profile advertising, including a television spot broadcast during the Olympics. Dennis, who organized a meeting between enthusiasts called the "Volt Nation" and GM executives at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, said he was motivated by a desire to show the Detroit-based automaker that the Volt would have a wide base of buyers from the start.
"If everyone who wanted a Volt could get one, that would be the dream," said Dennis. GM, which does not expect to make money on the first-generation of the Volt, has said it will ramp up output slowly when production of the plug-in hybrid starts at a Hamtramck, Michigan plant.
A GM spokesman said that the automaker expected an initial shortage for the Volt, similar to the shortages for other hot-selling recent models. "I don't know if there is any other vehicle or any other technology that has generated this kind of interest because of the state of the market and gas prices," said GM spokesman Dave Darovitz. "We know the demand is going to be there."
Darovitz declined to discuss pricing for the Volt GM showed off a concept version of the Volt in January 2007 but has retooled the look of the vehicle significantly since then, in part in order to improve its aerodynamics, representatives of the automaker have said. GM is designing the Volt to run for 40 miles (64 km) on a lithium-ion battery pack that can be recharged at a standard outlet.
The Volt will also capture energy from braking, like a traditional hybrid, and feature an on-board engine that will be used to send power to the battery on longer trips. GM is racing Toyota Motor Corp to bring the first mass-market, plug-in car to the marketplace.