Tesla needn’t worry about its affordability-focused Model 3 being challenged by General Motors’ new Bolt EV in Australia – it won’t be coming here.
The Bolt was first revealed in market-ready form back in January, with a 150kW/360Nm electric motor fuelled by a 60kWh battery pack. The small hatch, priced at around the AU$40,000 mark in the US, claims a 320-kilometre driving range and a 0-100km/h of “less than seven seconds”.
GM’s new EV has since gone on to debut on the European mainland as the largely identical Opel Ampera-e, but don’t expect to see it roll off a Port Melbourne dock with a Holden badge on its snout.
It won’t be rolling out anywhere that demands you drive from the right, in fact, because despite the claim this week that GM is “democratising the electric car”, it will only be offered in left-hand-drive markets.
That’s good news for Tesla’s Australian arm, which is expected to launch its circa $60,000 Model 3 mid-sized car here in 2018 with a 345-kilometre driving range, and even better news for BMW’s 200km, $65,900 i3 94Ah.
Of course, capability is not the only factor in the buying decision. Even with the Bolt in Australia, Tesla and BMW would comfortably lean on the prestige and trendiness that both badges attract.
There doesn’t appear to be any plans to introduce right-hand-drive production to the Bolt and Ampera-e ranges in the future, either. Rory Harvey, managing director of Opel’s UK sibling, Vauxhall, confirmed today that this entire generation of production will be left-hook only.
“Vauxhall is committed to having a future EV presence in its range,” he said.
“The technology that underpins the new Ampera-e is of great interest to us, and we will be evaluating left-hand-drive cars from next spring and demonstrating them to clients.
“The fact that the Ampera-e is not an eco-luxury or second car for customers broadens its appeal greatly, but it’s obviously vital that the car we sell in our market is right-hand-drive, and that won’t be available in the current generation.”
Holden has not had an electrified vehicle in its line-up since the expensive Volt was unplugged in 2015, and the new-generation Volt, revealed early last year, has likewise been ruled out for Australia.