GM to sell first Volts in California to take on Prius image

General Motors will start selling its Chevrolet Volt electric car in California late next year as the largest U.S. automaker challenges Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius.

The plug-in electric Volt will have a top speed of 100 miles per hour, Maria Rohrer, GM director of the Volt program, said today at a school assembly in advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show.
A California debut for the Volt may help GM improve its image in a state with some of the strictest U.S. anti-pollution regulations. Detroit-based GM has a 9.8 percent market share in Los Angeles, compared with 19.8 percent nationwide, based on data from researchers Experian Plc and Autodata Corp.

“California is one of GM’s biggest problem markets, and this vehicle and technology addresses some of the key concerns that California consumers have,” said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at IHS Global Insight Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts.

GM said it expects a federal fuel-efficiency rating of 230 miles per gallon for the Volt, more than four times the Environmental Protection Agency grade for the Prius. Toyota’s 2010 Prius is rated at 51 mpg in city driving and 48 mpg on the highway, according to the agency’s vehicle-efficiency Web site.

Source: Bloomberg