The Chevrolet Volt won't roll off an assembly line for another two years, but 34,520 people in 60 countries and all 50 states would buy one tomorrow if they could.
Lyle Dennis, a New York neurologist and the world's No. 1 Volt fanboy, has spent more than a year compiling an unofficial waiting list of prospective buyers over at GM-Volt.com. He's posted some of the details on his blog, where they're updated in real time. More than 1,500 people have signed on in the 24 hours since the details started bouncing around the Internet.
"I don't think GM, when it announced this car, had any idea how big it would become," Dennis told us. "I've always believed that by the time the car was produced we'd have 100,000 people waiting for one. Now I think that might be low."
GM's got an impressive marketing division and it's undoubtedly got a line on how the range-extended electric vehicle will sell when production starts in November, 2010. But it would do well to check in with Dennis, because his list represents $258 million in potential sales.
Dennis fell for the car when GM unveiled it at the Detroit Auto Show in 2007, and he launched GM-Volt.com a few days later to build support for the car. He attracted the attention of executives and engineers working on the Volt, and his tireless cheerleading prompted the General to accept his invitation to meet with Volt fanatics earlier this year during the New York Auto Show.
Eager to prove there's a market for the car and convince GM to build it in big numbers, Dennis started the unofficial waiting list in May, 2007. The prospective buyers who've signed up so far are willing to pay an average of $31,380.53 for the Volt.
By far the greatest interest is in California, where 1,217 people want one of the cars "Maximum Bob" Lutz has called the auto industry's moonshot. But the list includes prospective buyers in such far-flung places as Aruba, Georgia (the country and the state) and Uzbekistan. There's even someone in Vatican City who wants one, and someone in Saudi Arabia signed on today.
"Demand for the car has been intensifying," Dennis says, noting the list passed 10,000 on January 26 and hit 20,000 on May 4. Rising gas prices undoubtedly drive some of the interest, but Dennis believes interest in the Volt goes deeper than that.
"People want to get off oil," he says. "This is about what the car represents, and that's really struck a chord."
GM isn't saying what the car will cost, but Lutz has suggested it'll be in the $30,000 to $40,000 ballpark. All spokesman Robert Peterson would say is, "We've always been committed to making this an affordable car so we can sell it in volume."
How great a volume? Look for initial runs in the tens of thousands while GM gets costs under control and the technology gains a foothold in the market. The goal, however, is to sell the Volt globally and adapt its drivetrain to other models. "This is by no stretch of the imagination a niche vehicle or a one-off," Peterson says.