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Holden firms on $60k Volt pricing speculation

Pole Volt: Holden’s Volt range-extended electric car takes four hours to charge using a stage-two power outlet like that installed outside the company’s Port Melbourne headquarters.

$60,000 ‘about right’ for Volt price, even though Holden will lose money on each

Holden logo14 Jun 2012

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

OFFICIAL pricing for the Holden Volt range-extender EV will be announced next month, but the brand’s sales, marketing and aftersales executive director John Elsworth revealed the speculated $60,000 price tag is “about right”.

Despite the price – which eclipses that of battery-only rivals in the Nissan Leaf ($51,500), Mitsubishi i-MiEV ($48,800) and Renault Fluence Z.E. (expected to be around $40,000) – Mr Elsworth said Holden would lose money on every Volt sold.

Speaking at this week’s Colorado launch, he confirmed that Holden expected hundreds, rather than thousands of annual sales of the US-built electric car, which will arrive in October or November in just one specification level.

Mr Elsworth would not be drawn on how many pre-orders have already been taken for the Volt, but said there had been interest from both company and government fleets, including the US embassy, while private customers were expected to contribute to 50 per cent of demand.

Describing private Volt customers as “not typical Holden buyers”, Mr Elsworth said they were likely to be more interested in the car’s technology than its environmental benefits and “the type of people who bought the first iPads”.

Holden last week announced the 49 Volt dealers across Australia, and Mr Elsworth confirmed Holden’s capped-price servicing plan would be offered.

He suggested the Volt would not provide a great deal of profit for dealers, but said that selling and servicing the car would enable the chosen 49 outlets to be “seen to be green”.

13 center imageA condition for dealers taking on the Volt was at least a level two Green Stamp Plus Accreditation through the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, and Mr Elsworth said a large factor was the ability of the chosen dealers to correctly service the vehicle.

Speaking at the Colorado launch, Holden chairman and CEO Mike Devereux said the Volt was “the best manifestation of car and technology on the planet”.

“I don’t think it is bombastic to say that, it was the first American-made and engineered vehicle that has ever won the European Car of the Year award and that is after winning the North American Car of the Year and the World Green Car of the Year,” he said.

“It really does show people what GM and frankly what Holden stands for as a brand in terms of innovation and it’s not something that the Holden brand has been traditionally been known for, so we will make a lot of noise with this vehicle.”

The Volt can run on electricity alone for up to 80km and uses a 1.4-litre petrol engine to generate electricity when the batteries run out, providing a total range of up to 600km and removing the range anxiety associated with EVs.

A further advantage over its rivals is its ability to be charged via a standard household 10-amp socket – which takes between five and six hours from empty to full – rather than the 15-amp outlet, which usually requires installation by an electrician.

On the other hand, the Volt cannot be hooked up to a fast charger, with the quickest charge time being four hours using a level two 3.3kW unit like the one opened at Holden’s Port Melbourne headquarters in conjunction with EV infrastructure supplier ChargePoint last month.

For comparison, a level-four fast charger can top up a Leaf or i-MiEV in as little as 30 minutes.

A recent update to the Volt’s battery chemistry for MY2013 has slightly extended the car’s battery-only range, with a side-effect of increasing charge time by 15 minutes when using a stage two charger.

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