Holden Volt buyers can travel 87km on pure battery power.
Holden Volt buyers can travel 87km on pure battery power.

Plug-in's hefty voltage

GOING green comes at a price. In Holden's case, it's nearly 60 grand.

The Volt, which is based on the humble Cruze small car, will cost $59,990 compared with $21,490 for the cheapest Cruze.

The price shock highlights the biggest question facing electric cars: are buyers willing to pay a big premium to save the environment? The existing electric cars on the local market are also pricey. Mitsubishi's iMiEv city runabout is listed at $48,800, while the Nissan Leaf small car is $51,500.

But there is some good news for Holden Volt buyers: the local version will benefit from a range increase compared with the initial Chevrolet Volt versions released in the United States.

While the original Chevrolet Volt will only travel 61km on its batteries alone according to the US testing regime, and the Opel Ampera 83km according to the European test cycle, the Australian version of the Volt will travel 87km before the batteries dry up, Holden has revealed.

Holden spokeswoman Andrea Matthews said it was all down to how each region measures all-electric range.

"The ADR (Australian Design Rules) testing is different to anywhere else," she said. "That's why you get these differences between countries."

When the Volt does arrive, it will be the most technologically advanced car in the dealer's showroom. The Holden Volt will feature a forward-looking camera that will monitor the distance to the vehicle in front, alerting drivers if they get too close, and a warning system that can alert the driver if the Volt strays out of its lane.

As well, buyers will get a leather interior with keyless entry and start, heated front seats, a reversing camera and even front and rear parking sensors to help with the limited visibility through the steeply raked hatchback.

Safety includes eight airbags - a bigger count than the six standard airbags in the Holden Cruze.

Holden has already suggested the Volt will probably appeal more to technophiles than buyers suffering from a twinge of environmental guilt, and has equipped the Volt accordingly.

Also making the standard kit list are a big seven-inch colour touch screen that can also play DVDs, satellite navigation, six-speaker audio system with amplifier and sub-woofer, Bluetooth phone connection with voice controls, and a USB port.

Similar to the new audio system rolled out in the Holden Commodore, the Volt also includes a 30GB hard drive for music albums.


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