First Chevy Volts Reach Customers, Will Out-Deliver Nissan in December

By · December 16, 2010

The world's first Chevrolet Volt owner, Jeffrey Kaffee, gets into his brand new Volt for the first time after interrupting a vacation in Florida for the honor.

The world's first Chevrolet Volt owner, Jeffrey Kaffee, gets into his brand new Volt for the first time after interrupting a vacation in Florida for the honor.

Although the competition between Chevy and Nissan for the crown of green car king is only just beginning—at this stage in the game both manufacturers will sell as many as they make—the two companies have certainly been trading notches on their headboards this week.

The Volt's first delivery to a customer yesterday was subdued in comparison to the raucous first LEAF delivery last weekend. Even so, in some ways the first Volt delivery was more substantial than that of the LEAF as Chevy will be delivering more than 350 of their electric vehicles to customers this week alone. Comparatively, Nissan has delivered a handful of vehicles to consumers this week and they will likely deliver less than 200 vehicles this month.

Earlier in the week several truckloads of Volts quietly left the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant covered in the deposits of an early winter midwest snowstorm. Over the course of this week, those trucks will reach dealers in New Jersey, California, Texas, New York and Washington, D.C. Yesterday the first Volts were almost simultaneously delivered to customers in New Jersey, but due to transportation logistics, as it happened the absolute first delivery went to retired airline pilot turned real-estate agent, Jeffrey Kaffee.

"I like the concept that GM had come up with in the Volt," said Kaffee in an interview with PluginCars.com, explaining why he bought the Volt. "We all know what happened in Detroit and the economy in general, so it was great they were able to complete it. I like high tech products and don't mind being on the leading edge. People have asked me am I worried about buying untested technology—you know, there are much bigger things in life to be worried about and I'm sure GM did a really fine job on the car."

Until delivery yesterday, Kaffee hadn't had a chance to drive the Volt and was going on the articles he's read and others' reviews to reassure himself that GM had built a good product. Unfortunately for Kaffee, his first real driving experience in the Volt involved spending all day yesterday shuttling around film crews and reporters before he got back on a plane to return to his vacation in Florida. Even without a lot of drive time under his belt yet, Kaffee says he's sure he'll be happy about the decision for a long time to come. "I'm a green type of person," he said. "I really believe we have a serious problem here with the amount of oil we import. I still remember 1974, and I know how susceptible we are to so many different things. If all cars ran on this particular type of technology we would be oil exporters instead of importers."

Interestingly enough, Kaffee also has a Nissan LEAF on order and thinks that both cars represent the future of the automobile. He doesn't view the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt as being in competition with each other and thinks both manufacturers will sell as many as they can make. "I think America has been waiting for this. It fits every parameter that's important to this country," echoed Judy Tilton, owner of Gearhart Chevrolet in Denville, New Jersey, where Kaffee took delivery. "I feel so good that I was able to deliver that car today—it was a real honor."

To Kaffee, the Volt represents more than just a cutting edge car or an image of "greenness"—he views it as a hedge against what are sure to be high fuel prices in the future. "I think Detroit came up with a great product on this, and I'm sure the Nissan LEAF is going to make a terrific city car," he said. "Hopefully we'll have a lot more of them before we hit eight dollar a gallon gas."

Kaffee also thinks that the federal tax rebates for electric cars are a really good investment and he wished people could get over the initial shock of a $41,000 price tag. "The fact that [the Volt] crossed the barrier from the thirties to the forties probably turned people off, but when you realize there's a tax rebate on that, it makes the car competitive with a Camry," he explained. "I think the taxpayer bill on that was money wisely spent to educate the public and basically helped Detroit out."

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