Chevrolet dealers in all 50 states began taking orders for the 2012 Chevrolet Volt electric car Friday.

The suggested retail price for the award-winning Volt will start at $39,995, which works out to $32,496 assuming a full federal tax credit of $7,500, which is subject to the customer’s eligibility. The price includes an $850 destination freight charge but excludes tax, title and license fees.

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The starting price of the 2012 model is more than $1,000 below the 2011 base model.

The lower base price is possible in part because of a wider range of options and configurations that come with the expansion of Volt production for sale nationally. The 2011 model was available in just seven states and the District of Columbia.

For 2012, consumers will be able to choose from a total of seven option packages compared with only three for the 2011 model. A loaded Volt, with leather appointments, backup camera, navigation system and premium paint and wheels is priced at $46,265 including delivery, or $38,765 after the tax credit.

“We are giving consumers greater choice of content as the Volt becomes available nationwide by the end of this year,” said Cristi Landy, Volt marketing director. “This gives us the opportunity to be more flexible in our pricing and still provide additional high-tech content to customers who want to purchase it.”

The Volt will be available in two additional interior accents (white and spiced red) and two new exterior colors (Summit White and Blue Topaz Metallic).

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New features for 2012 include:

* Standard keyless access with passive locking; the car automatically locks and unlocks with the key fob in close proximity of vehicle
* OnStar Turn by Turn navigation standard for three years, and available in-dash navigation system
* Chevrolet MyLink including Bluetooth streaming audio for music and select phones (late availability)
* Standard AM/FM stereo with CD player and MP3 playback and 7-inch diagonal color touch-screen display
* Available 17-inch sport alloy wheels with black inserts (late availability).

Chevrolet will continue to offer an eight-year/100,000-mile limited warranty on the Volt’s 16-kWh lithium-ion battery, plus:

* Three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage
* Five-year/100,000-mile roadside assistance and courtesy transportation
* Five-year/100,000-mile limited gas engine coverage
* Six-year/100,000-mile corrosion protection coverage.

Customers in all states can visit their nearest participating Chevrolet Volt dealer today to order a 2012 Volt. Once an order is placed, a dedicated Volt advisor will be available to answer questions and keep the customer apprised of the order progress. Nationwide availability will initially be limited as deliveries will occur by phases. Additionally, Chevrolet will have a team of Volt advisors available to answer questions starting today at 1-888-VOLT-4-YOU (1-888-865-8496).

The Volt is an electric car with an onboard gasoline engine that acts as a battery charger. The gasoline engine also applies some drive power in some driving situations. The Volt can travel 35 miles on electric power alone, with a recharge taking eight to 10 hours on 110-volt household current and four to five hours on a 220-volt charger. Then the gasoline engine kicks on. With a full tank the vehicle has a total range of 379 miles — but its effective range is unlimited, since a driver can simply stop and fill up the fuel tank and keep going, exactly like a regular gasoline-powered car. In gasoline-engine-recharging mode the Volt gets about 40 mpg.

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Chevrolet expects to build up to 45,000 Volts for retail and fleet customers in the United States during calendar year 2012.