You can probably take a guess that the Holden Volt is an electric car, given the current trend for electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles as well as the name. And you would be right: the Holden Volt is indeed an electric vehicle. But not just any old electric vehicle: as this is a Holden we’re talking about here, the Volt is designed for long-range running, which makes it suitable for Australian driving, especially if you’re travelling interstate.
Writing a review for an electric car is always a bit different from what you do for a traditional fossil-fuel vehicle. In the older type of vehicle, you talk about the engine size, the type of fuel, whether or not the engine is a turbo or not, the fuel efficiency, the fuel type and so forth. But the rules have changed for electric vehicles like the Holden Volt. What you readers probably want to know is how long the battery lasts, how far you can go with it, how much punch the vehicle’s got and whether or not it’s a hybrid that needs a bit of juice in the tank as well as a place to plug in. So here goes…
The Holden Volt is a plug-in hybrid vehicle, which means that it has a 1.4-litre DOHC petrol engine to back up the battery. But it has different levels of power depending on whether it’s using the petrol engine or whether it’s going on the battery. The battery in question in the Holden Volt is a lithium ion 16.5 kW-hour unit. The power output is higher when the battery’s the main driving system (111 kW), but the top power for the petrol engine is 63 kW at 4800 rpm. You can almost hear the more Ocker types of Holden drivers spluttering in their beer at the idea that the petrol engine’s been beaten by one of those metrosexual electric thingies. The torque peaks at the same level for both: 370 Nm at 250–2800 rpm, which is more of a torque “plateau” than a torque curve.
The battery in the Holden Volt recharges in about 10 hours with a 6-amp 240 V recharge point and about 6 hours with a 240 V 10-amp charge point, or else four-ish hours at a 15-amp recharge point. The former two are fairly normal everyday power points, so you should be able to plug in your Holden Volt to top up the battery overnight at home – you can’t do that with a petrol engine unless you’ve got your own pump. What you’ll save on your fuel bill will probably go towards the increase in your power bill, of course, but that just goes without saying. The typical range for the battery alone is 87 km, but with the combination of battery and petrol engine and starting with both battery and tank full, you’ll get the full extended range (one of the key features of the Holden Volt) of 600 km. This is because as well as the main 111 kW battery engine, you’ve also got a 55-kW generator motor that recharges the battery via regenerative braking (the speed energy absorbed by the brakes is converted into electrical potential energy, i.e. it charges the battery). What’s more, one of the handy bells and whistles in the Holden Volt is a driving range indicator, which lets you know how far you can go using what power source. Well, you have to have something to give you a clue when you can’t just rely on the old-fashioned fuel gage.
All the other things that you’ll find under the bonnet of the Holden Volt are similar to what you’ll find in a petrol-powered car. The engine’s hooked up via an automatic transmission to a front-wheel drive system. There’s also a full ESC (electronic stability control) system to keep the 17-inch alloy wheels going where you want them, and this system includes brake assist, ABS brakes, traction control and EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution).
OK, what does the Holden Volt look like? It’s a rather nice looking four-door sedan. While it might not turn any heads, it’s aesthetically pleasing enough, what with the body coloured mirrors, sporty touches like the rear spoiler, clean lines, a smooth silhouette and the Holden logo sitting proudly up the front. It’s a car that’s suitable to take anywhere, from the office parking lot to the school gate. And the Holden Volt’s happy to take you there.
Inside the Holden Volt, you won’t find any hint that this is an electric vehicle, apart from the fact that it runs a bit more quietly when the battery’s in charge. The seats are nicely comfortable, with three levels of heating for driver and front passenger, six-way adjustment for the driver and front passenger, and storage in the rear armrest. The multifunction steering wheel contains controls for the cruise control, the Bluetooth communication system (with voice recognition) and the audio system (a 6-speaker Bose job including a subwoofer) as well as providing the forward collision alerts and lane departure warnings. The entertainment system includes a hard disk drive that has more storage than the computer this writer used when I first began writing these car reviews (30GB), a DVD player, USB input, radio, and a CD and MP3 player, which talk to the 7-inch LCD colour screen when you don’t want to display bits of information on it. If you don’t want to turn the heated seats on and would prefer to keep cool, you’ve got the electronic climate control and the air con all there. And let’s throw in a rear view camera, front and rear park assist, oodles of airbags and a trio of 12-V power outlets as well!
The Holden Volt claims to be the first of its kind in Australia. If this is what the car of the future looks like, then motorists everywhere can look forward to it, even if it means that petrolheads will become… well, what is the electrical equivalent of a petrolhead? Time for some new words as well as a whole new concept in motoring.
Current model series include:
For any more information on the Holden Volt, or for that matter any other new car, contact one of our friendly consultants on 1300 303 181. If you’d like some fleet discount pricing (yes even for private buyers!), we can submit vehicle quotes requests out to our national network of Holden dealers and come back with pricing within 24 hours. Private Fleet – car buying made easy!
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