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Launch areas confirmed for Detroit's first EV

Consumers will be able to buy the new Chevrolet Volt in California, Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas and New York City before the end of this year, General Motors has confirmed.

Dealers in the first four retail markets are set to receive their vehicles later in the year, ahead of dealerships in Michigan, New Jersey Connecticut and the wider Texas and New York areas which will receive stock in the first three months of 2011.

Chevrolet said that it expects the Volt to be available in all 50 US states 12 to 18 months after the initial launch and Opel has said that Europe will receive the rebadged Ampera towards the end of 2011.

General Motors, which owns Chevrolet and Opel, has confirmed that all US dealers selling the vehicles will have to fit 240-volt charging stations at their dealerships, so that customers can charge the vehicles on the go.

It is estimated that a Volt charge can be completed in three to four hours using the 240-volt charging stations, or nine to 10 hours using the 120-volt outlet that is standard in US homes.

The first buyers of the Volt in the US may also be able to get their hands on a free 240-volt home charging station, 4,400 of which have been made available by the US government.

The extended-range Volt is set to be one of the first mainstream electric vehicles to go on sale, along with the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi iMiEV, later this year.

Unlike the iMiEV and LEAF offered by General Motors' Japanese competitors, the Volt isn't purely electric, using a conventionally-fuelled engine to extend the range of the vehicle to around 340 miles (547 kilometers) when the batteries are depleted.

GM believes that this makes the Volt a more realistic cars for users with longer range requirements, such as families or users outside of cities.