For those in the U.S. looking to be the first to get their hands on the Chevrolet Volt GM has announced that it is now taking orders for the vehicle that is due at the end of the year. The Volt will initially be available to customers in California, New York, Washington, D.C., Texas, Michigan, Connecticut and New Jersey, but will be available nationwide in about 12-18 months from the start of production this winter.

The “extended range electric vehicle” (EREV) can travel up to 340 miles on a full battery and a tank of gas. Up to the first 40 miles the Volt is powered by electricity from the grid, after which the gasoline/E85 Ethanol-powered engine/generator kicks in to recharge the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery and extend the range an additional 300 miles.

GM says the Volt is designed to handle all climates and seasons, having been tested extensively to ensure it copes with the freezing winter temperatures of the Northeast as well as the scorching desert temperatures out West.

The car will come with a warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles on all its 161 battery components, the thermal management system, charging system and electric drive components. It will also be the first Chevrolet vehicle to offer five years of OnStar Directions and Connections service, which includes crash response, stolen vehicle assistance and connected navigation, at no additional cost.

Additionally, the Chevrolet Connect mobile and web-based app by Onstar allows Volt owners to set the charge time, start the vehicle, track mileage, unlock the doors and other tasks from a smart phone or home computer.

And as an added incentive for customers to get in early, last month GM announced that early adopters in some cities would be eligible for one of 4,400 free home charging stations.

The Volt’s official MSRP is US$41,000 – which comes down to $33,500 (including DFC) after the $7,500 U.S. Federal income tax credit. GM is also offering a lease program with monthly repayments as low as $350 (based on a 36-month term lease and $2,500 down), which also includes a lease-to-buy option.

Those interested in placing an order can find more info here.