(NECN: Peter Howe, Boston) The New England International Auto Show kicked off Wednesday at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and among the hundreds of cars on display, this will be the first chance for many New Englanders to see and touch the new Chevy Volt -- the electric hybrid GM's spent $700 million developing.
The show runs through Sunday, opening at noon Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for kids 6-12, and kids under 6 are free. Thursday is $10 for seniors day.
General Motors engineer Lisa Angus said the Volt goes on sale in Connecticut and six other select markets this month and should be available through the rest of New England within 12 to 18 months.
"It will run 25 to 50 miles on electricity, depending on your driving style, then it has a gasoline engine that acts as an on-board generator. That will give you another 300 miles,'' Angus said.
I got a chance to do a test drive and found it surprisingly zippy, handling more like a BMW or expensive sports scar than a Chevy compact car. In the BCEC parking lot I got up to 42 miles an hour in seven seconds and could have accelerated even faster. The list price is $41,000 for the four-door model, but you get $7,500 in federal rebates. Angus said the top speed is 101 m.p.h.
Referring to the quick pickup, Angus said, "it's not going to strand you. We use the example of getting on the expressway, or if you want to pass a car when you're on a two-lane highway.''
Also on display at the show is new competition coming this month for the Volt, the Nissan Leaf, which is $8,000 cheaper, has a 100-mile electric range. It takes 4 to 10 hours to charge on convention home power, but can be charged 80 percent in 30 minutes at a special high-voltage recharging facility like what many businesses and utilities are planning to offer. And Nissan's Stephen Roman said the company is very proud it's a true all-electric vehicle, with no gasoline engine.
"It's 100 percent electric. There's no gas, no tailpipe, no engine, no oil changes -- 100 percent electric,'' Roman said.
With videographer Mike Bellwin