Although not yet ready to talk price, Chevrolet did use the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show to confirm that its new Volt will be launching in California when it does go on sale late next year. Brent Dewar, General Motors vice president, Global Chevrolet Brand, sees it as a natural starting point for the first of GM's Extended-Range Electric Vehicle lineup. "Not only is it the largest automotive market, Californians are known to be leaders in adopting groundbreaking new technologies."
To help set the stage for the Volt and its successors, GM will use $30 million it received in government funding to help underwrite an R&D partnership program that includes three of the Golden State's largest utilities -- Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District -- as well as the non-profit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Under the plan, Chevy will provide more than 100 Volts to those entities for use in a 24-month fleet evaluation. During that time, Chevy will gather both vehicle performance data and driver feedback using its OnStar telematics technology. The information will then be passed along to the Department of Energy in the hope of finding the best ways to help customers optimize their real-world experience with the new technology. Gathering operational data on a vehicle that will travel up to 40 miles on pure battery power before transitioning to an engine/generator unit that extends total range to more than 300 miles is just one of the program's tasks. It's also responsible for installing more than 500 charging stations for residential, business and public use. While citing no other specific geographic locales, GM admitted that it's currently working with key utilities across the country on similar types of plans as it prepares to introduce the Volt to other retail markets.
One other bit of Volt business announced at the show was the name chosen for the signature silvery-green metallic paint that it will wear in all upcoming rollout ads and promotions. Three finalists were selected from over 13,000 entries received in a contest held last month on the ChevroletVoltage website. When the subsequent votes were tallied, "Viridian Joule" beat out EVergreen and environMINT to win its submitter, David Thomas of Sanford, Florida, a trip to Los Angeles and the honor of being the first "consumer" to drive an actual pre-production Volt. When asked about his inspiration, Thomas said: "I looked at the photo of the Volt on the contest website and thought it looked emerald in color, which led to jewel and then to an alternate yet appropriate play on that word -- joule (a unit of electrical energy)."