DETROIT -- Though Chevrolet will begin TV advertising of its Volt plug-in hybrid sedan tomorrow during the World Series broadcast, Chevy dealers won’t get their demonstration vehicles until at least February.
General Motors is keeping its first-year production run of the Volt conservative to assure quality control, said Tony DiSalle, Volt product marketing director. The automaker intends to make just 10,000 Volts through 2011.
Speaking Monday on the sidelines of a Volt test drive for journalists, DiSalle said early Chevrolet research shows that more than half of the people lining up to buy Volts are customers new to the brand.
He declined to be more specific or detail how many of those “conquest” sales would be crossing over from other GM brands.
DiSalle said the initial production run of Volts will go to customers, not to dealer showrooms as demonstration vehicles. GM is expected to begin production of the Volt next month at its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.
GM will begin producing Volts for dealer use in February, DiSalle said.
Chevrolet will launch the Volt in seven markets in the first year involving a total of 640 of its 3,300 U.S. dealers. California; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Austin, Texas, get the cars first. Then in March, all of Michigan, the rest of Texas and the tri-state region of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will be added, DiSalle said.
Consumers will get their first taste of Volt TV advertising when the World Series kicks off tomorrow.
Chevrolet has produced two Volt ads -- one of which will run during the World Series -- that use the tag line “It’s more car than electric.”
The ads will try to capture the idea that the Volt can be used as a family vehicle because it offers the green benefits of battery-only power for most driving and a gasoline engine that extends its driving range to about 350 miles on a full tank, DiSalle said.
Journalists viewed the ads at Monday’s test drive. But the ads are embargoed until tomorrow. They were created by Chevrolet’s new agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
Chevrolet hopes its aggressive marketing of the Volt, even in the face of short supplies, will highlight how it is different from all-electric vehicles and will result in showroom traffic that will lead to other Chevrolet sales.
DiSalle said every Volt buyer will be assigned one of several special GM advisers stationed in Saginaw, Mich., who will keep customers apprised of their vehicle orders and answer questions about the vehicles or the buying process.
The advisers are expected to supplement the expertise of dealers, who are going through rigorous training on the vehicles, DiSalle said.
For example, advisers will call customers when their Volts are ready to be built and after they take delivery, he said.
Asked whether that kind of customer contact is best left with dealers, DiSalle said more information on such a new type of vehicle is better than too little.
“I hope there are redundancies with dealers,” DiSalle said.