General Motors has confirmed it will not build the new Volt model in right-hand-drive configuration — rather, it will be a left-hand-drive Chevrolet model only, for markets led by the US.
“In light of GM’s decision not to proceed with a right hand drive program for the next generation Volt, Holden can confirm that it will not be bringing this electric vehicle to Australia,” Holden’s senior manager of product communications Kate Lonsdale told us this week.
Ms Lonsdale added that “Holden is committed to supporting Volt customers and will ensure specialist Holden Volt Service Centres will continue to be comprehensively trained to complete the highest quality servicing,” and that Holden will still store current Volt parts.
It is understood stocks of the current version are about empty, too.
It is an interesting decision, given the new-look model revealed at the Detroit motor show wears a more ‘conventional’ design that aims to polarise fewer, and thereby sell better. It also sports a superior electric-only range and will be cheaper — a side-effect of battery production ramping up.
Sales of the Volt, or the Vauxhall/Opel Ampera as it is called in Europe, have been sub-par since the vehicle premiered in 2010, though it paved the way in many respects for the flotilla of plug-in hybrids that have followed in its wake.
Holden launched the US-made Volt here in 2012, but has managed to move just 246 units over almost three years. The high starting price of $59,990 plus on-road costs left many prospective buyers cold, evidently.
The demise of the Volt reduces even further Australia’s meagre stocks of electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. It follows recent comments from Nissan regarding the Leaf EV, expressing concern over the lack of any government support to incentivise people to buy green cars.
As well as the Leaf pure EV, there is the Tesla Model S, BMW’s i3 EV and range-extender, the i8 range-extender and the forthcoming Audi A3 e-tron. More plug-ins will arrive soon, such as the Audi Q7 plug-in, as they gather momentum in Europe.
What the Holden Volt’s death means for the future of plug-in hybrids for GM’s Australian arm in general is unclear. Holden is committed to importing a significant proportion of its future models from Europe, so if Opel was the develop its own PHEV with Volt architecture, it would be a strong chance for our market.