Holden Volt charges into Australia, late 2012

Holden Volt 

This morning Holden unveiled the Holden Volt to the media in Sydney. The Holden Volt in Australia is essentially the same as the US version, the Chevy Volt. The main exception being the right-hand drive. Although commonly thought of as an electric vehicle, the Volt actually uses an electric motor to power the vehicle, with additional range achieved thanks to a small 1.4 litre petrol engine to tackle the range issue.

The world’s first Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV), achieves between 60km and 80km on the batteries, but over 500km with the assistance of the petrol motor and 36 litre fuel tank. This motor powers a generator which  batteries in the Volt meaning the petrol engine never directly powers the vehicle. This avoids the hybrid label.

Holden stats show that 78% of Australians travel less than 64km on their daily commute. This means the range of the electric engine should provide enough range for daily commutes, with the added benefit of being available for longer journeys on the weekends. Holden say the “Volt is the no compromise electric car.” While there are always comprises like battery weight, handling and dealing with two powering methods, this is an unfortunate reality right now.

While we wait for that magic scientific breakthrough to take battery technology to a point where you can drive from Melbourne to Sydney on a single charge this is the way it has to be. Either that or stop at a yet-to-be-built rapid recharge petrol station.

Along with with the environmental benefits, Holden say the cost of fully recharging the Holden Volt will be approximately $2.50, means significantly reduced running costs. This figure is likely calculated using off-peak power pricing. Naturally if you have longer journeys, the cost needs to include the price of filling that petrol tank.

The Volt has two power options. Plug into a normal power outlet (Level 1), it takes around 6 hours to fully recharge. If you’re willing to fork out the cost for an electrician a Level2 charger can deliver the charge in just 4 hours. The level 2 charger costs around US$500 + installation. By comparison, Mitsubishi’s iMiev can achieve around 120km on a single charge, but takes around 7 hours to reach that capacity.

Minister of Industry and Transport, Anthony Albanese MP attended today and the city of Sydney has agree to install 12 recharge stations.

The Volt will go on sale in Australia at the end of 2012, around 12 months from now. No price information was released. Whatever the price, it’s important to remember that the Holden Volt is a 4 seater car, the middle seat in the back is taken up with the battery cell.

The Holden Volt actually includes two electric motors, the primary motor is a electric 111kW, 370Nm and the secondary is a 1.4L 63/83Kw engine that powers a generator. The Holden Volt takes premium fuel. Engaging the low gear increases the amount of regenerative braking around 0.2 G’s.

Holden say the Volt’s unique drive system is actually 12-15% more efficient than traditional hybrids. The battery uses 288 prismatic cells, in-house developed battery cell with cooler wafers and lithium-ion batteries provided by LGChem. The warranty for the battery in the US (and should be in Australia) is 8 years.

The Volt supports dual 7” TFT displays, the centre touch screen is touch sensitive. Controls in the centre console are dealt with capacitive touch rather than push button style. There’s also a reverse parking camera when the driver engages reverse.

The Volt draws 2.5kW of power, while a central air conditioning system draws around 2.8Kw. To charge a Volt each night, it uses around the same power as leaving a desktop computer on all day.

2011 Chevrolet Volt Voltec Drive Unit 4ET50 MKA cutaway rendering2011 Chevrolet Volt 16-kWH lithium-ion battery cutaway rendering

Photos from the day on Flickr

Disclaimer: Jason attend this event as a guest of Holden who paid for travel and accommodation.