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Detroit show: Holden Design electrifies GM

Another one: A day after GM revealed the Holden-designed Buick Avenir large car in Detroit, another Holden-fashioned GM concept, the Bolt EV, has appeared at the North American auto show.

Chevrolet Bolt EV becomes second concept car with Holden input in two days


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13 Jan 2015

GENERAL Motors’ electric car concept for the future was built in Australia by Holden.

The all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV – a collaboration between GM’s design and engineering centres in South Korea, Detroit and Melbourne – is the second all-new concept car with Holden input to be revealed at this year’s Detroit motor show.

The Buick Avenir large rear-drive sedan – shown at a GM event on the eve of the show – had even more Holden input, being designed and built by GM Australia Design at Holden’s Melbourne headquarters.

Now the Aussie crew is front and centre again with GM’s first battery powered car, the Bolt, which is expected to go into production in 2017.

The Bolt was fabricated in the Port Melbourne workshops – one of only two such facilities in the GM universe capable of turning a design into reality.

With a range of more than 300 kilometres, the Bolt is expected to help revolutionise electric motoring around the world as an affordable, long-range EV.

It is the first time Holden has produced two ground-breaking concepts at a major international motor show, underlining the on-going esteem in which the Holden team, under GM International Operations design vice president Mike Simcoe, is held, despite the imminent demise of Holden manufacturing in 2017 and the scaling back of its engineering division.

GM Australia Design director Richard Ferlazzo said the Chevrolet Bolt EV signalled a significant commitment to electrification by the brand but also demonstrated GM’s commitment to the Australian design centre.

“Bolt EV clearly reflects GM's collaborative approach to global design programs,” he said.

“Our design centre is no longer focused on cars only driven on Australian roads.

“We are a global design centre and as such we have the talent and capability to lead, collaborate and support global programs for international markets such as this.

“The products revealed at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit clearly demonstrate our role within GM Design today and showcases the breadth of talent we have here in Australia, enabling us to work on different vehicles for different brands in different countries.

“We have a strong, hard-earned reputation as a mature and highly experienced design centre, and it’s fantastic to see the result of the team’s hard work on a global stage such as Detroit.”

GM says the Bolt EV concept melds the proportions and functionality of a compact crossover with Chevrolet’s electrification prowess, established by Volt and Spark EV.

“Drivers will be able to select operating modes designed around preferred driving styles such as daily commuting and spirited weekend cruising, for uncompromising electric driving,” it says.

“The modes adjust accelerator pedal mapping, vehicle ride height and suspension tuning. The Bolt EV concept is also designed to support DC fast charging.”

The Bolt EV hatchback employs advanced materials such as nano-composites, aluminium, magnesium, carbon fibre and even woven mesh in the body to reduce weight and thus maximise range and performance.

Unlike the bigger Chevrolet Volt, which is also starring at the Detroit show in its new, second-generation form, the Bolt has no petrol range-extender engine and it purely a charge-and-go proposition.

GM says the long-range capability will be a significant selling point of the Bolt which, although it appears at Detroit as a concept, is expected to make it into production within two years.

Said GM's executive vice president for global product development and former Holden chairman Mark Reuss: “The Bolt breaks the barrier on range anxiety.”

Similar in concept to BMW’s i3, the Bolt will be aimed at a larger mass audience, with an expected price lower than the $63,900 (plus on-roads) of the all-electric BMW.

It is unclear if the Bolt will make it into Australian showrooms, where the Volt achieved just 58 sales in 2014.

GM says the Bolt pushes the boundaries on aesthetics, with a clean, modern interior that maximises space in a small exterior package.

GM Global Design vice president Ed Welburn said form and function had never meshed so well.

“No compromises were made when it came to aesthetics and the elements that contribute to the Bolt EV concept’s range, resulting in a unique proportion that’s sleek, efficient and obviously a Chevrolet,” he said.

The Bolt appears to be built on an entirely new platform, evidenced by a full flat floor that holds the lithium-ion battery pack.

Some elements of the interior design – such as the slim-line seats sitting on aluminium pedestals – seem fanciful, and might not make it into production.

Among the high-tech features that are likely to be considered for mass production are technology that allows a smartphone to be used as a key fob, ride-sharing management, including reservations, vehicle location, digital key and even payment processing via the smartphone, and automatic park-and-retrieval technology that enables the driver to exit the vehicle and tell the Bolt to park itself and be summoned again.

A 10-inch touchscreen allows the projection of all the application and other phone data on to the screen.

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