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Chevrolet Bolt revealed | Holden electric car wows Detroit

The Chevrolet Bolt is General Motors' first pure electric vehicle since the failed EV1 of the 1990s. Now look who's reviving the electric car.

Holden has designed an electric car for its parent company General Motors in Detroit -- but the space-age vehicle may never be sold in Australia even though the concept car was built in Port Melbourne.

The Chevrolet Bolt can travel 320km on battery power alone and is expected to cost just $30,000 when it eventually goes on sale -- about the same price as a top-line Toyota Corolla -- once US government tax incentives are taken into account.

In a major coup for Holden's team of 140 designers, the 2015 Detroit motor show is the first time the company has unveiled two concept cars at one international event, following yesterday's unveiling of a new Buick luxury car likely to be made in China.

"Tesla's average transaction price is $100,000. They're for the rich and famous, this is for the people"

To cap it off the vehicle was unveiled by former Holden boss Alan Batey, a Briton who is now in charge of the Chevrolet brand globally.

When asked if this was General Motors' rival to the Tesla electric car, Mr Batey said: "Tesla's average transaction price is $100,000. They're for the rich and famous, this is for the people. I haven't seen Tesla with anything like this in the market with this (price)."

Mr Batey would not say when the Chevrolet Bolt (a play on words with its plug-in hybrid stablemate, the Volt) would go into production but indications are that its showroom arrival in a few years is a formality.

"We're going to gauge the reaction from today … but we're pretty convinced this is the right vehicle at the right time," said Mr Batey. "We would not have today come here and talked about 200 miles (range) and $30,000 if we didn't really didn't know how to make that happen."

Holden designer Richard Ferlazzo with the Chevrolet Bolt concept car in Detroit. Holden designer Richard Ferlazzo with the Chevrolet Bolt concept car in Detroit.
Chief Holden designer Richard Ferlazzo, who also designed the Efijy concept, said it was a proud moment for the Holden styling team.

"We've never had two concept cars at an international motor show before," said Mr Ferlazzo. "It's a very big deal for us, a great compliment for Holden."

About 50 of Holden's 140 designers worked on the vehicle in conjunction with GM's studios in South Korea and the US. But Holden added the finishing touches and built the concept car in an anonymous industrial complex adjacent to Holden's head office in Port Melbourne. The photos distributed to media were taken on the rooftop of Holden's staff car park.

However, Mr Batey stopped short of saying whether the vehicle would be made in both left- and right-hand-drive, meaning that Australia may miss out on the car it had a hand in creating.

Just 132 electric cars were sold in Australia last year and the Holden is unlikely to take the second generation Volt plug-in hybrid, also unveiled at the Detroit show, because of slow sales.

General Motors made the first mass produced electric car in the modern era, the EV1, between 1996 and 1999.

At first the EV1 was made with heavy and inefficient Lead Acid batteries, initially with a range of 97km and then following an update 161km. Later models were equipped with Nickel Metal Hydride batteries which increased maximum driving range in ideal conditions to 257km.

GM made 2234 of the bubble-shaped two-seat, two-door vehicles which were leased rather than sold to customers outright.

That's why they were able to be seized and destroyed when the company shut down the program, as depicted in the movie: Who Killed The Electric Car?

However, about 40 EV1s were donated to museums, minus much of their technology and battery systems.