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Austin, NY likely to see first Chevy Volts

GM is expected to add the two cities to its list for the inaugural run of electric plug-in vehicles that will hit the road in November.

Chevy Volt
CNET's Caroline McCarthy test-drives a Chevy Volt this spring in Austin, Texas--one of the first cities where GM is expected to sell its plug-in EV.

Austin, Texas, and New York will be among the first cities in the U.S. where the Chevy Volt plug-in electric vehicle will hit the road.

General Motors is expected Thursday to announce that a first run of 8,000 cars will be made available in a handful of cities, The Detroit News reported Thursday.

The announcement is expected to come from GM CEO Edward Whitacre, who is set to address the Austin Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

The Volt is, of course, GM's heavily hyped plug-in electric vehicle that will potentially get 230 mpg. It can power from electricity alone for the first 40 miles, with gas as a back-up power source. The Volt sports a gas engine generator that does not directly power the car's transmission as it does on other plug-in electric/gas vehicles, leading GM to refer to its Volt as an extended-range electric vehicle, or EREV, instead of a hybrid.

GM announced months ago that it plans to launch the Volt initially in Michigan, California, and Washington, D.C. Now, Austin and New York apparently have been added to the list of early adopter sites.

The choice is not surprising at all given the areas already have demographics targeted by other alternative vehicle manufacturers because of an expressed interest in technology and alternative fuel vehicles from the local governments as well as residents.

Think announced in April that New York will be a test market for its all-electric City car. It cited state and local government support as its reasons for the choice. Ener1, the parent of Indiana-based EnerDel, the exclusive supplier of the lithium ion battery system for the Think City car in the U.S., also happens to be a New York-based company.

As for Austin, it's been a prominent player in the Plug-In Partners campaign. The city and the community-owned electric utility Austin Energy are members of the grassroots program and have specifically been lobbying automakers to introduce plug-in hybrids to their area. Another tip-off to GM's interest in Austin came in March when it was a sponsor of this year's South by Southwest Festival. GM had a prominent presence at the festival, heavily showcasing the car to attendees and inviting press for Volt test-drives.