It's not the first electric Commodore, as Holden built a car called the ECOmmodore in 2000.
An electric lifeline could save the homegrown Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon from extinction.
A prototype is already running to show that a battery-powered future is possible for Australia's large-car workhorses, despite a 20 per cent downturn in sales through 2011.
The plug-in Holden Commodore is one of seven being built at EV Engineering in Melbourne to prove the potential in a switch from petrol to electric power in the next-generation successors to the Aussie favourites, including a full-scale safety and durability development program.
It is largely unchanged from the car in showrooms today, with a battery pack in the engine bay, a rear-mounted electric motor and an electronics pack in the area which previously housed the fuel tank.
"Our role is to demonstrate the technical viability and customer attractiveness of a large EV like the Commodore," the chief executive of EV Engineering, Ian McCleave, revealed to News Limited.
"If successful, the project will allow technologies to be considered for possible future mass production." McCleave said there will be other spin-off benefits as Australia's motor industry adapts to a changing world.
"The project will help to develop electric vehicle engineering skills and components within the Australian supplier industry for potential export to car makers globally, with opportunities including battery pack design and thermal management systems."
It's not the first electric Commodore, as Holden built a car called the ECOmmodore in 2000. It was a hybrid with a four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor and was used as a backup car for the Torch Relay ahead of the Sydney Olympics.
This time, the accelerated program is not directly backed by Holden although it is providing vehicles and technical know-how. Instead, a consortium made up of Bosch, Continental, Air International, Futuris, GE and Better Place is behind the drive, with support from the CSIRO and a $3.55 million grant from the Federal government's Green Car Innovation Fund.
Better Place wants to highlight the potential for its electric car support network and battery-change stations, so the EV Commodore has a quick-change lithium-ion pack.
"The project is progressing very well. The first engineering development car is running and results have exceeded our expectations, both in terms of the team's technical achievements and the performance of the car," said McCleave.
A first drive report on the EV Commodore is in this week's editions of Carsguide.