GM's Electric Car Ready for Primetime at NY Auto Show

10,000 will be produced this year, 50-60,000 next.

On the eve of the New York Auto Show, General Motors gave fans of its Volt electric car their first chance to actually get behind the wheel of a car that some think will revolutionize how we get around.

The electric ride was described as "Quiet as a church mouse, softer than a butterfly's kiss," by Larry Geguzis, 61 of Lock Haven, Penn.

Geguzis, who goes by the pseudonym "Tagamet" on the popular website, was one of dozens of gear heads invited to New York's Pier 92 to take a spin in the Volt on a closed course Monday morning.

But, coming from the company that was prominently featured in the 2006 documentary film "Who Killed the Electric Car," many are wondering what GM's commitment to the Volt really is.

"We believe initially we'll have much greater demand than we have supply," said John Hughes, Volt's Marketing Manager in an interview.

GM is expected to produce about 10,000 models for sale this year starting in November, and 50-60,000 next year.

But in what may be the company's first statement beyond that, Hughes told NBC New York that GM "can dramatically increase production if demand is there."

"Our intention is to make this one of the mainstream solutions" to our dependence on oil, Hughes said, in explaining why the Volt is being built by its best-selling brand, Chevrolet.

GM designed the Volt to have a 40 mile range between recharges, a standard that covers the daily driving habits of 75% of the nation's drivers, according to the company's research.

But while some drivers might have "range anxiety" over running out of the charge in their battery, GM has designed the car to include a small, gas-powered generator that can keep making electricity after 40 miles.

For those longer trips, all you have to do is go to a local gas station to stay on the road, instead of waiting at a charging station for the battery to be repowered.

For gear heads, it was enough just to finally get behind the wheel of a car GM has been touting and developing for more than 3 years now.

"The only problem they'll have is keeping it in stock," said Geguzis.

Doug Stansfield, President of the New Jersey Electric Auto Association, also approved, explaining that many electric car fans want it to succeed either to "get rid of your carbon or get rid of the dependence on foreign oil because of national security concerns."

And then there's Peter Crisitello of Rahway, N.J. and owner of several home made electric conversion vehicles, who just likes the feel of the Volt.

"It drives pretty much like a normal car," said Crisitello.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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