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Holden would consider future RHD Bolt EV

Bolt action: Chevrolet’s new Bolt EV promises a long battery range and the dynamics of a small fun car, but the cheeky electric vehicle won’t be offered in right-hand-drive markets.

Chevrolet Bolt EV sets new range standard but no right hooker for now

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Chevrolet logo14 Sep 2016

By DANIEL GARDNER

CHEVROLET has confirmed that its new Bolt EV small electric hatch will offer a range of about 380km when estimated under the United States EPA standard, or up to 400km under the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) when wearing Opel Ampera-e badges.

With more in ‘the tank’ than BMW’s i3 – even with its new updated 33kWh battery – the Bolt EV sets a new range standard for pure EVs in the segment, as well as a offering one of the more affordable options with a $US37,500 price tag ($A50,000) or about $30,000 after tax credits ($A40,000).

As another comparison, Nissan’s Leaf costs $39,990 driveaway and has a range of 250km, while the BMW is priced at $63,900 before on-road costs.

Holden fans need not get excited yet though, as the long-legged Chevy has not been designed to accommodate right-hand drive and will not be offered in Australia in this generation.

However, in the United Kingdom, Vauxhall is paying close attention to the model despite also being hamstrung by right-hand drive and says the “importance of the UK market holds potential for future models”.

Like Australia, the British market will not be getting the RHD Bolt EV wearing griffin badges, but will be wheeling an Opel version around its various UK fleet clients to demonstrate the technology that it says it is committed to and will one day be able to offer.

It is not the same case Down Under where small alternative energy vehicles have a far smaller following and Holden director of communications Sean Poppitt said that while there was minimal demand for EVs, it was unlikely one would be offered with a lion badge.

“I think it’s important to recognise where the market is at,” he said. “If you look at just passenger cars, less than one per cent are hybrids or electric so the market is fairly clear in what it wants and what it doesn’t want.”

Mr Poppitt explained that while the car-maker was not intending to introduce an EV in the immediate future, being a part of the General Motors global network allowed it to introduce new models rapidly as they become viable.

“Does that mean the technology isn’t amazing and does that mean that it’s not very attractive? Absolutely not but one of the advantages of being part of the GM empire is that they are a leader and they have all these different technologies. We are well poised to capitalise on that if and when those programs become available and when the Australian market tells us it wants them.”

Despite the low demand for such a model Mr Poppitt said Holden would consider the model’s potential for Australia were it to be offered in future generations with the steering wheel on the opposite side.

“We never rule anything out at all but as the current program doesn’t have right-hand drive it’s not something we can look at, but were that program to become available as right-hand drive you can bet your bottom dollar we would have a very close look at it.”

It may not appeal to all markets with its zero emissions and long range, but the Bolt EV has a greater chance of interesting Australia’s performance hungry motorists with “sportscar acceleration,” says Vauxhall.

With 150kW and 360Nm on tap, the little car can accelerate to 48km/h in 3.2 seconds, 80km/h to 120km/h takes 4.5s for safer overtaking, and a top speed of 150km/h is limited in the name of battery conservation.

Its 60kWh battery is comprised of 288 individual lithium-ion cells and is shaped to fit the contours of the Bolt floor platform, maximising the interior space. Up to five people can be accommodated and the boot can swallow 381 litres of things.

Holden’s range-extended Volt electric vehicle was discontinued in 2014 following a frosty reception from the Australian public and the second generation that is now on sale in the US will not be coming Down Under.

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