Volt points to mo­tor­ing fu­ture

Holden’s new-age elec­tric car, the Volt, is about to be launched in New Zealand. Rob Maet­zig headed to Sydney for a pre­view drive.

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

If this is the fu­ture of mo­tor­ing, then I’m all for it. I’ve just been driv­ing a new Holden sedan that is a medium-sized four-seater, rides and per­forms just like any other car, has a range of about 600 kilo­me­tres – but has an av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion of as low as 1.2 litres per 100 kilo­me­tres.

That’s bet­ter than 217 miles per gal­lon in the old im­pe­rial mea­sure­ment.

And that’s if you need to use any petrol at all to run this car. Most of the time you don’t. Nor­mally all you need to do is plug it in to an or­di­nary house­hold power out­let and charge a bat­tery pack that pow­ers the car’s two elec­tric mo­tors.

That bat­tery pack will in turn give you a range of about 87km, which un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances is eas­ily enough for the daily com­mute.

So here’s the po­ten­tial daily use: Charge it up overnight at a cost about the equiv­a­lent of run­ning your av­er­age house­hold re­frig­er­a­tor (a full charge from empty costs about $2.75), use it dur­ing the day in a to­tally nor­mal way, then plug it in to charge up again at the end of the day.

But what about the week­ends when you want to travel fur­ther? This car also has a 1.4-litre petrol engine on board that op­er­ates as a gen­er­a­tor to main­tain a charge in the bat­tery pack.

That way the car’s range is re­stricted only by the amount of fuel in the car’s petrol tank.

This new-age car is the Holden Volt, which ini­tially will be sold through three spe­cially cer­ti­fied Holden deal­er­ships in Auck­land, Welling­ton and Christchurch.

This doesn’t mean to say that peo­ple in other parts of New Zealand can’t buy this car.

All Holden deal­ers will be able to sell the Volt through a re­fer­ral process in which they will re­ceive ‘‘spot­ter’’ fees .

But the Volts will only be able to be ser­viced at the three deal­er­ships. And if this means a cus­tomer is re­quired to drive more than 250km to have a ve­hi­cle ser­viced, then Holden New Zealand will pro­vide overnight ac­com­mo­da­tion plus a free loan ve­hi­cle.

A Volt tech­nol­ogy work­shop for Aus­tralasian me­dia was held in Sydney last week, where jour­nal­ists were told the ve­hi­cle has al­ready been sold for some time in the United States and Europe – as a Chevro­let and Opel/ Vaux­hall – and that in the US alone the Volts have been driven a com­bined to­tal of 200 mil­lion kilo­me­tres, two-thirds of that dis­tance on elec­tric­ity.

So there is ob­vi­ous po­ten­tial for this car to do ex­actly the same thing in New Zealand and Aus­tralia, mak­ing it a very vi­able al­ter­na­tive to the con­ven­tional petrol-elec­tric hy­brid ve­hi­cles al­ready on of­fer here.

Any ve­hi­cle that can use such small amounts of petrol for daily op­er­a­tion, and in do­ing so have av­er­age ex­haust emis­sions of just 27g of CO per kilo­me­tre, has to re­ceive the fullest praise.

There are down­sides to this car how­ever, not the least be­ing that Volt en­ters the New Zealand new car mar­ket priced at a whop­ping $85,000.

An­other down­side is that the size of its bat­tery pack means that not only does it weigh 200kg, but it also runs through the mid­dle of the ve­hi­cle and acts as a cen­tre con­sole, which means the Volt can only be a four-seater.

But Volt rep­re­sents the be­gin­ning of Gen­eral Mo­tors’ jour­ney into the world of the ex­tended range elec­tric ve­hi­cle, not the end.

As the years roll over, the de­vel­op­ment costs of this ve­hi­cle will re­duce and such prod­uct will be­come less ex­pen­sive. Bat­tery sizes and weights will re­duce too, mak­ing ve­hi­cles even more ap­pro­pri­ate for ev­ery­day use than the Volt is now.

A ma­jor fea­ture of the Volt’s in­te­rior is that al­most ev­ery­thing is touch con­trol. The ve­hi­cle has two full-colour LCD screens that dis­play key in­for­ma­tion and house touch­screen con­trols for ev­ery­thing from infotainment and cli­mate con­trol, to driver and en­ergy in­for­ma­tion.

ON THE ROAD: Holden Volt is a class act.

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