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New Jersey Man is First Chevrolet Volt Retail Owner

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author photo by Autotrader December 2010

Hot on the heels of the world’s first Nissan LEAF delivery in San Francisco, Chevrolet has delivered its first Volt extended range electric car to a customer in New Jersey. Yet, while the two locations are a continent apart, the two events are inseparable in their statement about changes in the future of personal transportation.

Just two days prior to the first delivery, several truckloads of Volts left GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant covered in a blast of fresh snow and started making their way around the country. Although several “first” Volts were delivered on the same day, the honor of the very first delivery went to retired airline pilot, Jeffrey Kaffee–who interrupted his vacation in Florida to return to the chill of Denville, New Jersey, for his chance at “fifteen seconds of fame,” as he joked in an interview with Autotrader.com.

Technically, the first Volt off the line–known as “job one” in the industry–sold at a charity auction the day before this first delivery for a whopping $225,000 in support of science and math education at Detroit Public Schools, but Kaffee’s was the first pre-ordered, regular consumer delivery in the world.

After he was interviewed at the dealer a few months ago, GM told Kaffee he would make a good candidate to receive one of the first Volts, but he didn’t know he would be the absolute first one. “The way things kind of broke, it turned out I was the first in the country,” said Kaffee. “It was certainly worth flying back from my vacation in Florida to get the car.”

Kaffee’s Volt delivery is the first of more than 350 Volts being shipped this week. In addition to the New Jersey shipment, they’re also headed to expectant customers in California, Texas, New York and Washington, D.C.–although California customers will have to wait a couple more days due to transportation times.

“It’s a momentous occasion,” said Judy Tilton, owner of Gearhart Chevrolet in Denville, New Jersey, in an interview with Autotrader.com. “It’s the first American electric car, which I think is really an unbelievable feat. I’m proud that it’s being made in America. Everything is right about it–it’s a beautiful design, great technology, and great engineering.”

To Kaffee–who’s been on an informal Volt waiting list for about three years and traded in a 2005 Prius to get in on the “giant leap in technology” the Volt represents to him–this delivery has been a long time coming. “It was good to return again to a Chevrolet,” he said. “I haven’t had one in many, many years. There are a lot of very good cars out there these days, but in the old days your car began to fall apart at 80,000 miles, and that’s one of the reasons people started to switch over to some very fine Japanese products.”

Although much has been made about the competition between the Nissan LEAF and the Chevrolet Volt for the hearts and wallets of green-minded consumers, Kaffee thinks both cars will sell very well. “I have an order in for a LEAF too, but they don’t hit the New Jersey area until the end of 2011,” he said. “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. Both cars are excellent concepts and I think that’s where we’re heading–hopefully we’ll have a lot more of them before we hit eight dollar a gallon gas.”

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
New Jersey Man is First Chevrolet Volt Retail Owner - Autotrader