Chevrolet Volt to see limited availability at launch

Although the planned production run of 2010 Chevrolet Volts has been reported to be as high as 60,000 units, it appears as though General Motors Chairman Bob Lutz might have been closer with his guesstimate of 10,000 initial Chevy Volts.

According to GM's Vice President of R&D and Planning Larry Burns, the first batch of 2010 Volts will see extremely limited availability. "We're not going to sell it in every city and we're not going to sell it though every Chevrolet dealership," Burns told just-auto. "You'd have to set up the service parts in all of those dealerships and train all of those dealers to service the vehicles."

Burns continued by saying the Chevy Volt might only be available in five U.S. cities at launch.

But the outlook for a European E-flex vehicle -- likely in the form of the Opel Flextreme -- is even bleaker. Industry analysts say that the Opel variant wouldn't bow until 2013, despite GM's claim that Europe is "a very important market for this technology."

Burns compared the Volt's slow development to that of the company's 12 year old OnStar system, citing lithium-ion battery technology as the biggest hurdle. "Today's generation of OnStar costs radically less than the 1st generation and is dramatically more capable," he said. "That's what we've have to do with this plug-in electric technology."

As for that 2010 launch date? "It's a challenge," Burns says.