After a build-up that's lasted for almost four years, you now finally have the chance to buy the first-ever Chevrolet Volt “extended range electric vehicle” available for retail sale. The catch: General Motors has decided to auction the car off to the highest bidder. Proceeds will go to the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives. Online bidding started at US$50,000, and at the time of publication is already up to $180,000. The car’s MSRP is $41,000.

The Volt up for auction has a Viridian Joule (let’s just call it silver) exterior, Light Neutral interior with dark accents, Premium Trim Package, Rear Camera and Park Assist Package, and polished wheels. It also comes with its own 240V home charging unit, although GM is making 4,400 of these available – free of charge – to some of the first Volt-buyers.

Bids are being accepted until 6:00pm on Dec. 14th, with the winning bid being announced on the 16th. The winner will receive their car within the month. The Volt is expected to become available in select U.S. markets around the same time, with a wide release not happening for about another year.

The auction is open to U.S. residents only.

UPDATE: The vehicle, bearing the vehicle identification number BU10002, was sold for $225,000 through an online auction that closed Dec. 14. The new owner – Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group