) -- Chevrolet is pulling out all the stops as it unveils the Volt.
The company is planning to have 15 "advanced technology enthusiasts" and electric vehicle advocates drive the vehicle for three months, starting in late October, to see how the car performs in the real world.
Many other Americans will get a look at the first electric vehicle with extended-range capability during a cross-country Volt caravan that begins Oct. 9 in Seattle and hits a dozen major cities, from Seattle to Miami, before ending Oct. 20 in Chicago.
"The Volt Unplugged tour will give people a chance to get behind the wheel of the Volt and find out for themselves what makes this vehicle so special," said Tony DiSalle, Chevrolet Volt product and marketing director, in a prepared statement. "This drive will demonstrate the one-of-a-kind capabilities of the Volt, the only electric vehicle able to drive such long distances under a variety of driving conditions and climates without having to stop to recharge."
has a lot riding on the Volt, which will have a driving range of hundreds of miles on a fully-charged battery and a tank of gas. Its lithium-ion battery can power the car within a range of 25 to 50 miles. When the battery runs low, a gasoline engine generator can extend the range. The Volt will be produced in Detroit and will have a price tag of $41,000, although a federal tax credit can cut the price to $33,500.
Meanwhile, the 15 hand-picked members of the Chevrolet Volt Customer Advisory Board will receive a pre-production Volt to drive through the end of January 2011. They include celebrity scientist Bill Nye and celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio. Nine group members got their first chance to drive the car Tuesday at GM's Milford, Mich., testing grounds.
"Listen to the sound," Kris Trexler, an electric vehicle enthusiast and Los Angeles film editor, told
The Detroit News
. "There is no sound. It's just tires on the road."
The 2011 Volt will initially be available only in California, New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and the Washington D.C. area.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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