Holden's all new humming and dancing Volt electric car returns an amazing 1.2 litres per 100km juice use. Although equipped with a small petrol engine like a hybrid, the Volt is an electric car with a “range extender” because the petrol component never directly powers the wheels.
Rather it generates power to run the electric motor when the battery pack runs flat. And that mans, like any EV, it wants plugging in to recharge before it’s good to go again. Still, it’s an exciting concept from company associated with far more mundane modes of mobility.
But before we nominate it for the Eureka Prize for scientific innovation, it’s worth considering the immutable maths of the matter. Those less exotic Holdens, including the LPG-powered Commodore SV6 and turbo diesel Cruze CDX sedan, are both vastly cheaper to buy and – it transpires – to own.
Priced from $46,290, the SV6 returns 12.3 litres/100km. The $31,040 Cruze auto gets 6.7 litres/100km. Neither are in the Volt’s ballpark. And yet …
Checking the price of fuel today we found a Sydney spot that dished up LPG at 65.9 cents a litre, diesel for 144.9 cents and the Volt’s premium 95 unleaded for 145.9 cents. Why top notch juice? Because that's what Holden use to achieve the official fuel test figures you see on the windscreen sticker.
At these prices the Volt costs $1.75 to run for every 100km travelled, the Commodore $8.24 and the Cruze $9.71.
But – and it’s a big but – when you factor the Volt’s $14,000 premium over the Commodore and the $29,000 over the Cruze, it’s battery powered glow begins to fade.
The sums you save on either pays for a whole lot of fuel for a long time to come. You would have to travel 211,000km before breaking even with the Commodore or a whopping 363,000km in the case of the Cruze.
Does anyone other than taxi drivers keep their cars for such distances? And we all know what they feel like after that long on the road. They're just not built to go the distance.
You could “Cruze” all the way to the Moon or circumnavigate the Earth five times in the Commodore before the Volt would start paying for itself. If it’s not easy being green, it also sure ain’t cheap.