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Austin among cities that will take part in roll­out of Volt, Chevy’s elec­tric hy­brid

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Kirk Laden­dorf

Gen­eral Mo­tors Co. might not have many of its new Chevro­let Volt elec­tric cars to sell in Novem­ber, but Austin will get some of the first ones.

That much was promised by CEO Ed Whi­tacre Jr. on Thurs­day, who said Austin will join New York, Con­necti­cut, Michi­gan, Cal­i­for­nia and Washington, D.C., as launch lo­ca­tions. Why Austin? Partly be­cause that’s what the com­pany’s chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive — a na­tive Texan who still lives in San An­to­nio — wanted.

“I can’t think of a bet­ter lo­ca­tion than Austin,” said Whi­tacre, who drove a pre­pro­duc­tion Volt to the Hil­ton Austin ho­tel to speak at a lun­cheon spon­sored by the Greater Austin Cham­ber of Com­merce.

“Austin is known as a green town, an en­vi­ron­men­tal town, and that is what the Volt is all about,” Whi­tacre said. “Plus, this is GM coun­try down here. It seems like it is a very log­i­cal

Con­tin­ued from B5 de­ci­sion” to in­clude Austin in the launch.

Texas is a key mar­ket for GM, which has more deal­ers here than in any other state, though GM de­clined to pro­vide a num­ber.

In ad­di­tion, Austin is among the cities that are es­tab­lish­ing a cru­cial in­fra­struc­ture for elec­tric ve­hi­cles: pub­lic recharg­ing sta­tions. A Cal­i­for­nia com­pany ex­pects to be­gin in­stalling sta­tions soon in Cen­tral Texas, and Austin En­ergy is also plan­ning to add more this year.

Deal­ers don’t ex­pect many Volts to be avail­able at launch. GM ex­pects to make 10,000 Volts by the end of 2011 and 30,000 in 2012, but the au­tomaker has not said what the Volt will cost. Some an­a­lysts say GM will charge $40,000; oth­ers say the price must be less than $35,000 to be com­pet­i­tive.

The Volt has a driv­ing range of more than 340 miles; it trav­els the first 40 miles solely on bat­tery power. A small gaso­line en­gine then kicks in to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity to pro­pel the car. That added range makes it un­like any other elec­tric car, Whi­tacre said.

Jay Jan­ner

Af­ter pulling up to the Hil­ton Austin in a Chevro­let Volt on Thurs­day, Ed Whi­tacre Jr., the chair­man and CEO of Gen­eral Mo­tors, said Austin will be among the first mar­kets to of­fer the elec­tric hy­brid ve­hi­cle. ‘I can’t think of a bet­ter lo­ca­tion than Austin,’ said Whi­tacre, a res­i­dent of San An­to­nio.

Ri­cardo B. Brazz­iell

The Volt has a driv­ing range of more than 340 miles, with the first 40 miles en­tirely bat­tery-pro­pelled. GM has yet to name a price for the Volt; the high end of an­a­lysts’ es­ti­mates is about $40,000.

Jay Jan­ner

Nick Richards, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager for GM, took a look un­der the hood of a Chevro­let Volt at the Greater Austin Cham­ber of Com­merce’s event Thurs­day.

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