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Detroit show: Holden wary of second-generation Volt

Weight and see: Chevrolet’s lighter and more polished Volt will go on sale in North America later this year, but Holden says it has yet to make a call on the car for Australia.

Chevrolet set to launch much-improved Volt, but Holden not plugged in yet

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Chevrolet logo13 Jan 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

GENERAL Motors’ second-generation petrol-electric Volt is an unlikely starter for Australia where slow sales of the current model and plummeting fuel prices might seal its fate in the Holden line-up.

Unveiled on the Chevrolet stand at this year’s Detroit motor show, the new Volt has a lighter, more efficient powertrain and battery pack for greater range and improved acceleration, as well as a fresh look and an extra seat – up from four to five – for greater convenience.

Despite the improvements, Holden will need convincing to take the car after it goes on sale in North America in the second half of this year.

Holden’s senior manager product communications Kate Lonsdale told GoAuto that Holden had yet to make a decision on Volt for this market.

“The car has only just been released, and we are yet to do a business case on it,” she said.

Ms Lonsdale conceded that sales had not been high, but said one of the main reasons Volt had been released around the world was to showcase exciting new technologies from GM.

“Watch this space,” she said.

Holden sold just 58 Volts in Australia last year, down 42.6 per cent on 2013.

The new Volt was unveiled at Detroit alongside GM’s all-new electric hatchback concept, the Bolt EV, which uses a number of technologies pioneered in Volt.

Weight reduction was one of the main objectives for engineers and designers working on new Volt. The new two-motor electric drive unit is a whopping 45kg lighter than the one it replaces, while the lithium-ion battery pack has been slimmed down by more than 9kg.

The battery has revised chemistry to carry more power – 18.4kWh versus 16.5kWh – even though the number of cells have been cut from 288 to 192.

As well, GM says the drive unit improved efficiency by 12 per cent, while acceleration performance is lifted, slashing the 0-100km dash by 19 per cent, to about 8.5 seconds.

The driving range on a combination of both electric and petrol power has grown from about 600km to about 643km.

City driving range on electric power is still about 80km, but charging time has been slashed from about six hours to 4.5 hours,The electric drive still produces 111kW of power, but the bigger 1.5-litre (up from 1.4 litres) petrol range-extender engine is more powerful at 75kW (previously 63kW).

The revised engine also runs on regular unleaded petrol instead of high octane.

Volt’s new body not only reflects Chevrolet’s latest design themes but includes new wind-cheating features such as active grille shutters.

GM says the opinions of current Volt owners were canvassed when re-designing the car.

GM North America president and former Holden chairman Alan Batey said data from thousands of customers allowed GM to deliver the most capable plug-in vehicle in the industry.

“According to independent surveyors, Volt owners are the most satisfied in the industry and they were our compass for developing the next-generation model,” Mr Batey said.

A quieter body, improved braking and better re-generation feel were among the changes made in line with customer feedback.

The charging port is now illuminated for easier access and can be padlocked to prevent unauthorised disconnection. The connecting cable is longer and lighter, too.

Inside, the rear seat has been reshaped to accommodate three people instead of two, while the number of buttons on the console has been reduced for greater simplicity.

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