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First production Chevrolet Volt rolls off line into an auction

November 30, 2010 | 11:00 am

The first production Chevrolet Volt rolled off the assembly line at a General Motors Co. factory Tuesday in Detroit and anyone who wants to purchase the electric drive vehicle is going to have to bid for it.  Volt_auction2

The Volt -- bearing the vehicle identification number ending in BU100002 – will be auctioned with all proceeds benefitting the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, the automaker said. Details on the auction can be found at

“Every aspect of the Volt -– from its aerodynamic shape to its battery chemistry -– is a testament to the importance of math and sciences,” said General Motors North America President Mark Reuss. “By encouraging Detroit-area students to pursue these topics, we hope to cultivate the next generation of engineers who will build upon the Volt’s innovative technologies.”

The Volt is the first of a new generation of mass-produced electric vehicles to hit the U.S. auto market. It will retail for $41,000 when it hits showrooms in December -– but will have a less expensive lease
deal -- and is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. 

The compact sedan has a range of about 40 miles using only electricity. It also has a gas engine to generate electricity when the batteries run out and extend the range by another 300 miles. By
year's end, Nissan Motor Co. will launch its Leaf, which is powered only by batteries. Ford will come out with an all-electric version of its Focus compact car next year.

The Volt has been a publicity boon for GM, which for years has faced critics who have accused the giant automaker of suppressing the development of electric and alternative fuel vehicles.

“There's no denying the awareness and image boost the Volt has provided to GM over the past few weeks, and given the automaker's recent history that alone may justify the car's $1-billion
investment,” said Karl Brauer, an analyst at, the auto information company.

GM also said Tuesday that it will hire 1,000 engineers and researchers in Michigan over the next two years to expand its electric vehicle development. The new jobs will help the automaker develop and
manufacture automotive battery, electric motor and power control technology and components.

“We want to give our customers energy choices other than petroleum and to make the automobile part of the solution when it comes to the environment,” said Dan Akerson, GM’s chief executive.

But whether consumers are interested in such vehicles remains a question.

Kelley Blue Book, the auto pricing information company, said Tuesday that only 7% of car shoppers say they are likely to consider an electric vehicle for their next new-vehicle purchase or lease.  The
data come from Kelley Blue Book’s Market Intelligence study.

The majority of survey respondents, 87% and 84% respectively, said they worry about how far they will be able to drive on a single charge and the availability of charging stations.  Most, 91%, said that
electric vehicles are expensive, and 43% thought they would not retain their value as well as conventional gasoline-powered cars.

-- Jerry Hirsch

Photo: Chevrolet Volt. Credit: General Motors