The locally built Electron - an electric version of the Getz - is the first vehicle to pass Victoria's tough new crash rules for electric cars.
The test was performed by national crash testing authority, Autoliv Australia. The Electron is built by central Victorian electric car company, Blade Electric Vehicles. The car is minus the Getz's petrol engine, replaced with an electric motor that gives it a range of 200km.
BEV founder, Ross Blade, says the crash test results were encouraging and will help spearhead a concerted export push for the car. Exports have started to New Zealand and Blade has South-East Asia in his sights. "We were all on tenderhooks with the crash test because so much is riding on it," Blade says.
The Victorian Government contributed half the cost of the testing for the $48,000 car. "This is Australia's first electric vehicle to be successfully crash tested and, according to Autoliv's engineers, the Electron's results were excellent," he says.
The hatch passed all crash testing criteria by significant margins. It was conducted to Australian Design Rule standards at 56km/h, 8km/h less than the Australian New Car Asssessment Program. Blade will follow up with a full ANCAP test next year.
One of BEV's earliest customers, Alan Gray, has just completed 20,000km in his Electron - unserviced - and without the car being off the road for a single day in the past 18 months. "The car is amazing. I have to fight my wife Judith for a drive," Gray says. "She loves it more than I do and it never lets us down."
Gray says the Electron is charged from the solar panels on the family home and is used for the family's sustainable living business. "We do about 60km a day in it," he says."The most we've travelled is 90km. I estimate that it will pay for itself in four years - even without petrol prices rising," Gray says.
His own figures show the Electron has cost just 97c for every 100km, versus a petrol Getz's $12 for every 100km. More than 20 Electrons have been sold with seven going to local Victorian councils. The Mk III version is now capable of being fully recharged in just an hour.
Blade says he would like State and the Federal governments to back their green credentials by buying the car. "We don't want money, we want orders," he says. BEV has recently hired a former chief scientist for GM-Holden, Dr Larry Jordan.
"Dr Jordan joins the staff of BEV at an exciting time," Blade says. "Now that we've had a successful - and very expensive - crash test, we are licensed as a second stage manufacturer for volume production."
Jordan's specialist experience will be vital "as we further develop the Electron and sell it into new markets", Blade says.