We reported last week that General Motors is planing to first launch the widely-anticipated Chevrolet Volt Electric Vehicle in the state of California, the country’s biggest car market, in late 2010. The reason behind the decision? Since the Volt is a different kind of car – it’s designed to get plugged into the electrical outlet more often than refueled at the pump – the electrical infrastructure needs to be built and tested to ensure the best experience for the customer. Building said infrastructure is easier to do for a single market (state) than an entire country. On top of that, Brent Dewar, GM vice president, Global Chevrolet Brand, also noted that California residents are very often on the cutting edge of technology:
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.
More importantly, however, are the partnerships that GM has established in the Golden State to prepare for the launch of the Volt. The General is partnering with three California utilities and the Electric Power Research Institute (ERPI) as part of a real-world research program and demonstration. The purpose of the program is threefold:
- introduce customers to electric vehicles
- advance electrification, and
- establish vehicle charging programs that will pave the way for consumers
GM is making all this possible by utilizing a $30 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Fund, given by the Transportation Electrification Initiative from the Department of Energy (DOE).
The research and demo program calls for 100 Volts delivered to program participants for use in fleets for a period of two years. During this time, Chevrolet will use GM’s 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.”
The program also calls for the installation of more than 500 charging stations for residential, business and public use. According to GM, these charging stations “will be used to learn more about the installation, the vehicle charging process and to gain customer feedback on the experience.”
The GM Authority Take
As we posited in our initial article announcing GM’s plans for the Volt launch, the first markets where the Chevy EV is made available must be “electrically ready.” It’s good to see GM working with utilities to make this possible since – overtime – each regional market will need to be electrified if the Volt is to be used as it was originally intended. Oh, and a little statistic for those playing the stats game: the Electric Power Research Institute (ERPI) – GM’s launch partner in the California program – consists of members that represent more than 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States. This isn’t your average Tesla product introduction, folks – this is for the mainstream! Bam![Source: GM]