A US website set up by New York physician Lyle Dennis claims that 33,930 people in 56 countries are ready to buy GM's upcoming Volt hybrid.

Amongst US potential buyers, the vehicle is most popular with Californians (1,142), Texans (642) and Floridians (602).

Owner Lyle Dennis writes on the site that, though a full-time physician, he is "a highly-committed advocate for widespread use of alternative energy and petroleum displacement, and believes the adoption of this vehicle will have a tremendously positive impact both on this country and the world as a whole."

Although he has some engineering background, he has no connection with General Motors (GM) or the car industry.

The site, gm-volt.com, was started within days of GM announcing the Volt concept in January 2007.

"The goal then was to demonstrate to GM the demand was there for them to follow through and bring the car to production," Dennis says on the site. "On 3 June, GM's CEO announced the board approved moving the Volt to production. Mission one accomplished."

"As part of the effort to demonstrate degree of demand, a Chevy Volt waiting list was started on this site in May of 2007. Since then over 33,000 individuals have signed up as 'handraisers' as GM calls them," he adds.

"Since actual production numbers are projected to be modest at first, our next mission is to try and compel GM to build enough cars for us."

Dennis told Reuters he had been assembling a list of prospective Volt buyers for over a year through the website.

The average price buyers were willing to pay for the car was US$31,261 - substantially less than the $40,000 GM has said it will cost to build the first-generation of the car equipped with a massive lithium-ion battery pack.

GM executives have said they expect the Opel version of the Volt to cost at least EUR30,000 in Europe.

Reuters noted that GM, normally secretive about its new model plans has taken the opposite approach  with the Volt, actively consulting enthusiasts like Dennis and featuring the concept in high-profile advertising, including a television spot broadcast during the Olympics.

Dennis, who organised a meeting between enthusiasts called the "Volt Nation" and GM executives at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, told the news agency he was motivated by a desire to show the Detroit-based automaker that the Volt would have a wide buyer base from the start.

GM spokesman Dave Darovitz told Reuters the automaker expected an initial shortage for the Volt, similar to the shortages for other hot-selling recent models.

"I don't know if there is any other vehicle or any other technology that has generated this kind of interest because of the state of the market and gas prices," he said. "We know the demand is going to be there."

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