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by Tim Beissmann

General Motors is tomorrow expected to announce that its new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle will be sold in selected US markets rather than rolled out in a national launch.

Chevrolet President, Brent Dewar, said there were a number of factors that would determine where the plug-in hybrid was made available first.

“We’re looking at infrastructure, tax credits … We want this to be a very positive experience. Then we will go to a national rollout,” he said.

California is as good as locked in as one of the initial markets, given that GM successfully leased around 1000 EV1s to west coast consumers towards the end of the 1990s.

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Dewar stopped short of giving an expected sales figure for the Volt, but confirmed that the new EVs will be highly sought after.

“There definitely is demand.  We just need to get the cost and infrastructure in balance.

“Our biggest problem is infrastructure.”

Infrastructure problems don’t seem to faze the world’s second-richest man, Warren Buffett, however.

The billionaire recently told a class of business students at Rice University, Texas, that he believed in just 20 years time every new car on the road would be electric, in response to a question about peak oil theory and the decline of oil production.

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His prediction comes after Renault-Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn, recently said he expected EV sales would reach one million in the US by 2015.

A study released last month called the Electrification Roadmap expects there to be at least 14 million EVs in the US by 2020, and predicted that 75 per cent of all short trips in 2040 would be covered by electric vehicles.

In 2008, Buffett’s investment firm put US$230 million into Chinese battery maker BYD who is rapidly expanding into the EV market.




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