The latest word on the Volt now being displayed at the ongoing Geneva Motorshow is that public awareness and interest is quite high.

As we wrote last week , production versions of both the (for now) American-manufactured Volt and Opel Ampera are being seen for the first time by many Europeans in Geneva from Mar. 3-13, giving GM plenty of opportunity to field questions and provide answers.

According to Chevrolet Europe Spokesperson Cornelia Harodt, questions regarding Extended Range Electric Vehicle technology, have been more than one might expect from the uninitiated.

“I am still in Geneva because I wanted to see and hear how show visitors react to the car now that the price is out and we are only a few months away from launch,” Harodt said via e-mail over the weekend, “I noticed that most people are very well informed about the Volt and how the technology works. They just wanted to see the car in reality.”



Chevrolet fully plans to make the Volt a world car in as quick and logically progressive a time frame as possible. (Photo courtesy of GM.)

Although the Volt is scheduled for delivery this year first in Switzerland, and not long after for €41,950 in Germany concurrently with the €42,900 Ampera – with similar but undisclosed prices expected in other European countries – Harodt said Chevrolet is yet unwilling to divulge more pricing and rollout plan specifics.

Indeed, even high-level industry executives, alternative energy advocates, and other stakeholders have widely varied predictions for European (and American) electrical vehicle (EV) purchases for the next several years.

Naturally, if oil prices continue cresting higher as some forecast, more Europeans are expected to add to the growing number of those already sold, as evidenced by a daily increasing list of refundable pre-orders the Volt and/or Ampera have thus far received.

Informed observers have said European consumers’ decision for or against EVs will also be partially determined by government subsidies offered in their respective countries.



Incentives vary country by country in Europe, and are particularly strong for U.K. buyers to buy Chevy Volts, Opel Amperas and Vauxhall Amperas – the three nearly identical versions Europe is anticipating. Volt shown. (Photo courtesy of GM.)

Some countries offer fewer financial incentives to spur early EV adoption, while others such as the U.K. offer up to 25-percent of the selling price or a maximum of £5,000 (about $8,100).

This being the first full year for the U.S. Volt, even in its home country sales have been sluggish, but this was expected as the roll-out is occurring in stages, and GM is aiming first for markets perceived to be most receptive.

In Europe, a similar progression may take place. At this point, it is predicted that EV sales will be a small percentage of sales for traditionally powered autos, at least for the next few years.

As previously mentioned, the European Volt and Ampera will include a Hold mode, that lets drivers switch to petrol power at will, without the battery being drained, a feature not available in U.S. versions.

To further clarify between the two, Harodt said this is the only difference.



Technically, little separates the Euro and U.S. versions right down to the steel safety cage shown. Indeed all are yet to be manufactured in the U.S. until European production details are settled. (Image courtesy of GM.)

“Besides the additional Hold mode the EU Volt is technically identical to the U.S. Volt,” she said.

In Geneva, Harodt said potential customers are eagerly lining up to finally drive production Volts in a limited circuit.

“The show organization introduced the possibility to offer test drives of green technologies a year ago. Last year we arranged for two Volt mule cars in the form of Chevrolet Cruzes to experience how an electric car drives,” Harodt said, “This year, we have the real car for drives. So people could not only see the Volt they could also get behind the wheel and drive it in the dedicated test area. The feedback was very, very positive.”

For some, Harodt said, the Volt is their primary reason for returning for more of the multi-day Geneva show.

“All test drive slots are booked quickly for the day,” Harodt said, “Some visitors are so excited about the drive opportunity that they sign up for the next day and just come back to the show for the Volt drive.”