Chevrolet announced today at the Los Angeles motor show that the Volt electric vehicle with extended-range capability will be available late next year in California - the nation's largest new car market - with other key markets to be named later.

Chevrolet is also partnering with three California utilities and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) as part of an extended, real-world demonstration and research programme to introduce US customers to electric vehicles, advance vehicle electrification and establish vehicle charging programs to pave the way for consumers.

General Motors is leading the programme with a grant of more than US$30m in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds from the Transportation Electrification Initiative administered by the US Department of Energy.

"It is natural that California is the lead market for Volt. Not only is it the largest automotive market, Californians are known to be leaders in adopting groundbreaking new technologies," said Chevrolet brand head Brent Dewar.

Volt production is scheduled to begin in late 2010. Pricing has not been announced. The initial Volt launch markets, including California, will play a vital role in validating the retail market readiness for electric vehicles, the automaker said. It is working with key utilities across North America to prepare each regional market in advance of retail sales.

Three California utilities participating in the demonstration project are Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and Sacramento Municipal Utility District. They join EPRI, an independent, nonprofit research organisation based in Palo Alto and seven other utilities in the project. EPRI's utility members represent more than 90% of the electricity generated and delivered in the US.

As part of the research and demonstration program, Chevrolet will deliver more than 100 Volts to programme participants to use in their fleets for two years. Chevrolet will also use OnStar telematics technology to collect vehicle performance data and driver feedback that will be reported to the DOE and used to improve customers' experiences with the new technology.

Because the Volt is designed to charge anywhere, the programme also includes installing more than 500 charging stations for residential, business and public use. These stations will be used to learn more about the installation, the vehicle charging process and to gain customer feedback.

The Volt is designed to drive up to 40 miles (65km) on electricity without using petrol or producing tailpipe emissions. When the lithium-ion battery runs low, an engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the total driving range to more than 300 miles (500km) before refueling or stopping to recharge the battery.

Chevrolet has given the Volt a high profile in and around LA in the days leading up to the auto show. It has visited notable area restaurants, the Westlake Century City Mall in West Los Angeles and was featured at a nationwide school assembly based at the Harvard-Westlake preparatory school. The brand will also introduce a new Volt song designed to educate and entertain consumers during the motor show's public days.

Pre-production Volts hit the road

GM doesn't see Volt as a brand

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