Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Stewart family gets real charge from Chev Volt

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Darryl Stewart and his family are getting a real charge out of being among the first Manitobans tso be driving General Motors' new electrically-powered Volt.

"My kids (he has an eight-year-old and a 10-year-old) think that it's real cool," says the president of payroll service IBEX. "They want to go everywhere in our new electric car. They love the whole idea of it."

His kids aren't the only ones who are excited about the new vehicle. He says that everywhere he goes, his Volt is drawing a lot of interest from people. "I am having a lot of fun explaining my Volt to people," he says.

Stewart is one of three customers thus far who have purchased Volts from Murray Chev. One is an individual in his early 50s who just qualified for his driver's licence in order to be able to drive the Volt. A second buyer -- from Kenora -- put his deposit down on the model three years ago.

"I put my deposit down 10 months ago," Stewart says.

Stewart bought the electric car because, he says, it just made sense. "Manitoba has an abundance of clean electric power available," he points out. "And I live close to my office, so I rarely go beyond the 60-kilometre range."

If he has to go farther between charges, he notes, the Volt also has a small gas-powered engine which can power the car for up to 500 additional kilometres.

Stewart took delivery of his $47,000 Volt two weeks ago. He reports that he recharges the battery simply by plugging the vehicle into a regular 120-volt socket.

He says that he has been quite impressed by the Volt's sophisticated operating system. "The technology is amazing," he says.

"I thought I would have to make a lot of compromises, but that hasn't been the case. The Volt has been a great car so far.

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Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg welcomed the redesigned 2012 C-Class coupe just over a week ago. Three of the first four vehicles to arrive were pre-sold, reports Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg sales rep Justin Livingstone.

The new models are available with either a turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine (the C250 version) or a direct injection V6 (in the C350 alternative). Livingstone notes that the V6 provides more power and torque and better fuel economy than its predecessor.

New standard features on the new models include a glass panoramic roof, 14-way adjustable power seats, dual zone climate control and Bluetooth audio streaming, "attention assist" driver monitoring system which alerts the driver if he becomes drowsy.

Options include blind spot monitoring and lane changing assist. Mercedes-Benz's 4MATIC AWD system is an option with the C350 model.

The base price for the C250 model is $39,900 (plus freight and pdi) while the C350 version starts at $49,000.

Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg also has a new sales manager in place in the person of industry veteran Richard Ojo. Ojo has been working in the auto industry in Winnipeg since 1999 and has been in management for the past few years. He joined the dealership as sales manager at the beginning of February. (Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg has two sales managers, the other one being Roger Man.)

"Brian (Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg president Brian Lowes) persuaded me to come here," Ojo says. "I like the product, the people and the processes here."

-- -- --

Congratulations to Jim Gauthier Chev team members Pier Chiappetta and Ryan Pastetnik for their promotions to vice-president and general manager, respectively. Chiappetta has been with Gauthier for the past 11 years -- his entire career in auto sales. He had most recently been the Chev dealership's general manager. In his new role, he says, he will be responsible for running the store's day-to-day operations.

"I owe my success to the staff around me," he says of his promotion.

Pastetnik has been in auto sales all of his working life. Following in his father's footsteps, Pastetnik began selling used cars in his hometown of Lockport while still in high school. He's been selling new products for the past 11 years, most recently in management at a smaller Winnipeg import store.

"Jim Gauthier Chev is a well-run store with a good name and positive atmosphere," Pastetnik said. "I'm looking forward to helping the dealership become the top-selling GM store in Canada and maintaining that status for years to come."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 4, 2012 E2

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