The first 4,400 buyers of the Chevrolet Volt range extender electric car will be eligible for a free home charging station, General Motors said on Thursday.

Owners will be offered a 240-volt charge station from either ECOtality or Coulomb Technologies and, in many cases, home installation will be free thanks to a grant of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds from the Transportation Electrification Initiative administered by the Department of Energy (DOE).

“Many owners will plug their Volt into a normal 120-volt electrical outlet, charge overnight and drive to work in the morning using only battery power,” said Tony DiSalle, Volt product and marketing director. “For Volt owners who want to install a faster 240-volt charge station, we estimate the Department of Energy project to save between US$1,000 and $2,000.”

The DOE projects were established to install charging stations in residential, workplace and public areas to encourage consumers to purchase electric vehicles; and to studying electric vehicle usage to optimise future electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

To encourage consumer purchases of electric vehicles, federal grants and other funds have been awarded to install more than 15,000 home charge stations. That total includes the 4,400 Volt units; 2,600 as part of The EV Project from ECOtality, and 1,800 as part of the ChargePoint America project from Coulomb Technologies.

To study electric vehicle usage, the programmes will collect data such as average charge time, energy usage and the starting and ending time of the charging process. This data will be analysed by the DoE to understand how electric vehicles are driven, how and when they are charged and ultimately what is required for widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

“In addition to saving money, these projects offer Volt owners an opportunity to play a role in developing our collective understating of electric vehicles in the market,” DiSalle said.

Volt buyers will receive on delivery of the car a portable 120-volt charge cord and those in programme cities will be offered the 240-volt charge station with installation arranged through Chevrolet. Buyers must be willing to share their charging information. Additional eligibility and application conditions will be announced when the new car goes on sale later this year.

The Volt is an electric vehicle with extended range capability, designed to drive up to 350 miles without stopping to recharge or refuel. For the first 40 miles, it runs solely on electricity. After the lithium-ion battery runs down, a petrol-powered engine/generator runs to extend driving range another 300 miles.

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