It’s complicated. Does retired New Jersey-based pilot Jeff Kaffee have the first Chevy Volt, or does North Carolina auto dealer Rick Hendrick? They both could make claims.
Hendrick bought the first one offered for sale via an online charity auction benefitting the Detroit Public Schools Foundation. What’s the first Volt worth? It went for $225,000 — so there’s your answer. Hendrick says, “This was an opportunity to own a piece of history while giving back to the community.”
For the money paid, the embattled Detroit schools (those are city kids celebrating with the car at right) could send 4,500 scholars to compete in a science fair. And maybe the car with VIN # BU10002 was a good investment, too.
Kaffee paid the regular price, $41,000, for his car — a silver one with the back-up camera option and wheels upgrade — and that was the first car delivered to a customer.
Kaffee, who is selling real estate after retiring from Eastern Airlines, made a quick trip back from a Florida vacation to pick up his car, which was delivered at 7 a.m. Wednesday. “I got it by the luck of the draw,” he told me. “They put a group of them on the truck, and at first they told me it was possible I’d have the first one in the Northeast. Then they called back and told me it was actually the first one in the country. I don’t know about the auction. Did they have an auction?”
Yep, they did. But I think I’d rather have gotten my historic car the way Kaffee did — it’s the music of chance, as author Paul Auster put it.
The first Nissan Leaf was handed to a customer, tech entrepreneur Olivier Chalouhi, in Petaluma, Calif., on Dec. 11.
It was a week of firsts. Think also delivered the first 15 of its City EVs to Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana on Wednesday. The guy in the hat who doesn’t look like a governor in that photo below? That’s Daniels, who’s reportedly Republican presidential timber. They’re going to use the electric vehicles to patrol the state parks — and they cars are so quiet the poachers won’t see them coming.
But wait, there’s more: Also delivered to its first customer this week was the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell. And it went Hollywood, too. The lease holder, who will pay $849 a month, is Vance Van Patten, executive director of the Producers Guild of America. (Isn’t that a Hollywood name, Vance Van Patten? You can almost see the beret and smoking jacket.)
“As a long-time environmental advocate and supporter of sustainable production and eco-friendly transport, I’m thrilled to be driving a vehicle that I believe represents the future of environmentally thoughtful transportation,” Van Patten said.
I imagine that battery electric vehicles will eventually replace the Toyota Prius as the transportation of choice for eco-Hollywood. It's sign-up time for DiCaprio, Hanks, Clooney, David, Diaz, et al.
Back to Kaffee, who also traded up from a Prius, in this case an ’05. “It’s smoother than the Prius,” he said, after driving it all of 23 miles before heading back to Florida to resume his vacation. “I’m kind of a green guy who likes the fuel savings, and a high-tech guy who likes leading-edge products. I was trained on the 757, and the Volt’s interior reminds me of that high-tech cockpit.”
Kaffee isn’t selling. “It was really fun seeing the rollout of the car, which I never dreamed I’d be able to take part in. It was a thrill. I plan to keep the car unless someone comes along and offers me, what was it, $225,000?” Kaffee’s real-estate customers will get some pretty high-class transport as they survey the available homes of Parsippany, N.J.