2011 Chevy Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

Chevy Volt Word CloudGeneral Motors says customers love their new Chevy Volts – and the number one vehicle they are leaving behind is the Toyota Prius. Quoting some interesting statistics from an early GM Volt Customer Satisfaction survey, GM's marketing manager for the Chevrolet Volt and EV Technologies, Rob Peterson, says the Volt launch is exceeding GM's expectations.

Speaking at the 2011 Electric Drive Transportation Association annual conference, Peterson claims Volt drivers are getting 1,000 miles between visits to the gas station, and when they do need to top up, their monthly gas bill is about $36. That translates to stopping for gas about once a month.

The same survey also gained deeper insights into what customers are feeling about their new cars through a series of word associations (click the word cloud image above to read a larger image of these associations). The number one impression? "Fun to Drive." For those of us involved in the EV industry, it's not really surprising perhaps to hear this news, but GM's Volt word cloud from the survey confirms that electric drive = fun to drive. Also prominently heard from customers were the phrases "comfortable" and "quiet."

And those customers aren't your typical GM customers. Ninety percent of them are new to GM. They're coming from a wide range of vehicle brands and types. The number-one traded in vehicle? A Toyota Prius. Peterson describes the typical Volt customer:

These people fit the early adopter profile, but they also stand out as exceptional community influencers. They're leaders in their communities in various ways, and they want to get out there and demonstrate the Volt and electric drive to everyone they can reach.

Peterson is pretty cautious about patting himself or GM on the back too much. Even though he says customers love the Volt, GM needs to manage expectations carefully. And behind the smiling faces of the Volt customer base lies danger in the shadows, with some folks working to subvert GM's success:

There are groups out there that want to see this not succeed. They will go to great lengths to achieve this. But we've proven to our doubters and detractors that it's a success. It's a pity that the EV industry often gets politicized – associated with one or other administration, not because of the technology but because of who supports it.

And although Peterson says it's not a red state, blue state political issue, he does believe the industry in general and the Volt in particular are still facing lots of sensationalism and negativity from folks like Fox Nation and Rush Limbaugh. His response: "The EV experience will eventually prove customers are right, negative political commentators are wrong. We have an educational opportunity."

[Source: GM]

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