It's been four years coming, but today, the first retail buyer in the U.S. took delivery of his 2011 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car.

The happy event occurred on a cold winter day at Gearhart Chevrolet, in Denville, New Jersey.

The buyer is Jeffrey Kaffee, a retired airline pilot who lives in nearby Parsippany. He was surrounded by a host of radio, television, and print reporters, including CNBC reporting live from the dealership.

The delivery marks the first of 10,000 2011 Volts that Chevrolet expects to build by the end of 2011, along with 45,000 or more the following year.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Gearhart's CFO, Stephen Tilton, said that his dealership and another under the same owners would receive 15 to 20 Volts through the first quarter of 2011, out of 300 available in the greater New York metro area during that time. Most of the allotment, he said, has already been pre-sold.

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt is the world's first range-extended electric vehicle. It offers a range of roughly 40 miles from its 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, after which a 1.4-liter gasoline engine switches on to power a generator that provides electricity to the drive motor for another 300 or so miles.

Within the past seven days, Nissan has delivered its first Leaf electric car in San Francisco, plus three more in San Diego, Portland, and Southern California.

Even Mercedes-Benz got in on the green-car intro act, handing over the keys of a leased B-Class F-Cell hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle to Vince Van Petten, Executive Director of the Producers Guild in America.