The first Holden Volt has started testing in Australia ahead of the electric car’s local launch towards the end of 2012.
Holden revealed a left-hand-drive version of the Volt to its employees in a special event at its Melbourne headquarters today.
Holden director of electrical engineering Paul Gibson said the left-hand-drive Volt has been adapted for Holden’s engineering team for initial vehicle evaluation studies, and has so far embarked on drives around Sydney and Canberra.
“The engineering department will use these validation exercises to ensure the electrical infrastructure around the country supports the Volt and that the recharging process is as seamless as possible for customers,” Mr Gibson said.
The Holden Volt will be a localised version of Chevrolet Volt, which has been on sale in the US for almost a year.
Holden officially calls the Volt an ‘extended range electric vehicle’ (EREV), and says it is different to other hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full-electric vehicles on the market because the vehicle’s wheels are always driven electrically by an electric drive unit.
General Motors was forced to clarify the Volt’s drivetrain set-up at the Volt’s launch in North America late last year after some members of the US media claimed the petrol engine could directly power the wheels at certain speeds.
GM explained the complex electric drive system delivered power in pure electric and extended-range driving modes only.
At the heart of the Volt is a lithium-ion battery. It can be charged either by plugging the car in to a standard household power point or by the on-board generator, which is powered by the 60kW 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. The power is channelled through to the Volt’s 111kW/368Nm electric motor, which drives the front wheels.
The Volt’s battery can be fully recharged in three hours. It gives the car a pure-electric range of 40-80km, depending on driving technique, temperature and terrain. In the US, the Volt has an official combined (electric and range-extended) range of 610km, although according to Holden, some Volt owners in the US have travelled up to 2300km before needed to refuel the petrol engine.
Holden will confirm pricing details closer to the Volt’s Australian launch, although early adopters will almost certainly have to part with $40,000-plus to jump behind the wheel of the Holden Cruze-sized hatchback.