Three weeks ago, Chevrolet unveiled two new launch markets for its 2011 Volt electric car and described some of the things dealers would need to do in order to be granted the privilege of selling GM's most advanced and most eagerly awaited car in decades.
Now it appears that pretty much every Chevy dealer plans to do whatever it takes.
2011 Chevrolet Volt in Waco, Texas, en route during the 1,776-mile Freedom Drive PR stunt
First 2011 Chevrolet Volt built on production tooling at Detroit Hamtramck plant, March 31, 2010
2011 Chevrolet Volt pre-production prototype, January 2010
General Motors said today that about 90 percent of dealers in the five launch regions--more than 600 from California, Texas, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and the Washington, D.C. area--have applied to sell the Volt, slightly more than it had expected.
Sales personnel at qualifying dealers have to undergo lengthy training covering the plug-in vehicle, how to explain its benefits and help buyers understand how it works, and the necessary steps for installation of home charging equipment.
Dealers must agree to maintain one 2011 Chevrolet Volt on their lot at all times so that all potential customers can have the chance to test-drive it at will.
Similarly, service staff have to be trained about the Volt's range-extended electric Voltec powertrain, consisting of a 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack that powers the car through a front-mounted electric motor for up to 40 miles of electric range.
The 2011 Volt also carries a 1.4-liter gasoline engine that switches on after the battery pack is depleted, to drive a generator that powers the electric motor. With a 9-gallon gas tank, that motor provides more than 300 additional miles of range.
The EPA has not yet released fuel economy figures for the Volt, as it is still figuring out how to calculate fuel usage for cars having both plug-in and gasoline power. GM's much-touted figure of 230 mpg, however, will not be part of the window sticker.
According to GM's press release, Pohanka Chevrolet in Chantilly, Virginia, had a waiting list of 50 people interested in the Volt. The dealership is now getting four to five inquiries a week on the car, said general manager Steve Waersch.