First Holden Volt Now Delivered In Australia; An Owner’s Story

5 years ago by Martin Tesar 15

Editor’s Note:  Last week Holden announced it would be delivering their very first Holden Volts in Australia, and we are fortunately to have one of those first owners walk us through the process and first impressions on the car. Our thanks to Martin.

Martin And His Brand New Holden Volt

My first impressions of the Volt were back in 2007 when I saw the concept car that GM’s Bob Lutz had a vision for.  I thought it was a very throughout practical way of actually doing a real  plug in EREV that would be financially feasible for a large company like GM.

I then followed this vehicle very closely as GM at the time were fully open with information / continually leaking via what is now the GM-Volt.com site and via GM themselves.  Little did I know about the amazing complexity and effort GM went into designing this product which resulted in this brilliant consumer product.

 

After About A Month's Extended Delay, The First Volt In Victoria Comes Home

So, I was  little a taken a back when this became at one point a political football in the US.  That chapter is over and I hope that US citizens will be very proud and support it as and into the future.

Compared to other offerings it Volt pampers it’s battery for long life, provides you with the maximum EV benefits for  it’s range and  doesn’t leave you stranded when your battery is depleted.  How can you beat that!

 

I decided to purchase the Volt – as I fully appreciate both its technology, what it  does achieve and a lifelong dream from a Childhood reading a futuristic book from our State Electricity Commission that the future would be electric.  And that included an electric car – which at the time left me wonder how?

When I heard they were about to take pre-orders back in June 2012 I jumped at the chance.  At first I was a little shocked that I couldn’t customise the car like in NA, only the exterior colour.  I rang round got the best price and place my deposit with an established dealer.

Luckily I was very patient – until I knew the car was in port Early November, then I started to call Holden and the dealer as to why the wait?  In the background I wasn’t too stressed as I was still finished the garage renovation and that was taking way longer than expected.

Meanwhile at home, my imported SPX charger was up and running very early on.  In the end the garage was fished 2 days before the delivery of the Volt – It’s all in the timing!

2013 Holden Volt, First Deliveries Happening In December

Delivery was very smooth with my dealer who dealt with me honestly over the whole process, it was a real pleasure for change.  It was their first Volt delivery and there was much interest at the dealership including a media person.

The car drives better than I ever imagined – very smooth, very quite with windows up you don’t even hear the EV buzz I was expecting,  knowing the sound of inverter controlled electric motors – in fact some regular gas cars who have their ECU buzz inside the passenger compartment our louder to me!  Regen is extremely strong I like that and have got used to driving everywhere in ‘L’ as I also love the electric park brake!

Hey look! The Steering Wheel Is On The Wrong Side Of Car

The Techno aspect of this car is simply just WOW along with its BOSE sound system. (Please people don’t play with this while driving as I don’t won’t local insurance premiums going up LOL J)

Steering is very precise and sharp – I like that &, handling is very good considering the weight of the vehicle, suspension is just right it’s a dramatic change from the usual US built row boat (Over soft suspension).  Pardon me for being so crass but us Ozzies from down under have been spoilt for a long time with cars that actually handled well in corners by comparison.

For Australia the only thing they didn’t do is change the indicator stalk to the RHS, so it’s like driving a typical Australian specked European  vehicle.

The brake pedal is a little too far  from the accelerator (for me), however with all the litigation over run away vehicles on other brands in the states, this does not surprise me that they increased the “space” for possible fat footed people?

One only negative is the front flexible ground skirt which I seem to be dragging on every driveway, I know it adds km’s to the range, but it just detracts from the luxury feel of the vehicle. I’m  reduced to driving over driveways like I’ve got a slammed Camaro in your language.

Note Fanatical Posters Of The Holden Volt In Anticipation Of Delivery

The Volt way exceeds my expectations  – it is still worth it here in Australia even though it is an expensive premium vehicle ($59,990 AUD, about $63,000 USD) without any Australian government subsidy – our current politicians still have their heads stuck in the sand over this issue.

I’m by no means a Greenie as they say locally. I’m just practical,  so I have 4kW of solar panels on the house roof and use off peak brown coal electricity at night that would otherwise be wasted (As you can’t turn down a coal fire plant for night) and I believe I’m doing more for the environment with owning the Volt than all the Hot air and false taxes our Politicians are spouting currently here in Australia and I not even a tree hugger!

So Love the Volt or Ampera, even if you are on the other side of the World in Europe!

Cheers,

From down under with the steering wheel and the roads on the wrong side.

Martin.

(I was so lucky that GM sent mine with a major flaw (Steering wheel on RHS) so the dealer could register it here without a conversion J)

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15 responses to "First Holden Volt Now Delivered In Australia; An Owner’s Story"

  1. Bill Howland says:

    Very interesting Martin.. I’m here near Niagara Falls, USA, and I’ve been answering questions about the HOLDEN VOLT from your fellow Aussie “Deckard”, I believe, in Queensland. I based all my answers on the very S-L-O-W Holden Website.

    Im still learning Aussie vernacular, so please bear with me. A Few Questions if I may”

    1). Does the standard charge cord plugging into your normal 230 volt, 50 cycle “Power Point” charge at a 6 ampere rate, and then if you flip menus on the center console you can increase the rate to 10 amperes? I would assume you would have to configure this every single time you plug in as we have similar nonsense with the 2013 USA models here.

    2). I would assume you decided against getting the “15 Amp Power Point” Voltec wall mount unit for, what is it $AUD 1000- $2000?

    3). What do you think about the car in general? Other than knowing the car is $US 43,000 here. Oh, and you don’t have to desparage driving on the other side of the road. Every Britain I’ve ever met says THEY do it the right way and WE in the West are the mistaken ones.

    1. Martin T says:

      Hi Bill,

      Yes we have 240VAC 50Hz (It’s supposed to be 230VAC 50Hz but it varies here in our area from 240VAC to 264VAC = which is by the way that absolute maximum according to our Australian standards.

      If you were to use the provided charger – yes it’s default is set to 6 Amps, 10Amps being selectable. I’m not sure if it defaults back as I have an SPX charge interface i imported myself and negotiates & provides 15-16Amps.
      Which is the maximum the built in Volt main charger (not the consumer plug in charger interface) will do from what i understand – you have just reminded me to take out the provided charger and store it at home LOL!

      2) No Voltec (they push “Better place” which I don’t need) So I have a simple SPX EL-50600 – Power Xpress Charge Station ~ $1200AUD+ install
      (Purchased from SPX USA through my on shipper) It can provide 32Amps out of the box (I had a 40Amp circuit installed), so way plenty for the Volt, So unless your Family has a power hungry Leaf or Imev (Not many Telas yet in OZ) a properly wired 20 Amp feed is pleanty / security for this charger with the Volt.

      3) I think the car in general – is absolutely fantastic and it brings a smile to my face every time I drive it – like no other car I’ve ever owned.
      It’s a real shame with the really nice BOSE sound system as I love travelling just hearing the tyres spinning and the fan blowing a little air. It’s just like the future car has arrived and all other vehicles are prehistoric?
      Future vehicles needing to measured against it as it’s in a whole other class of ball park.

      As to pricing – as an Australian I’ totally used to getting ripped on cars and host of products from A-Z. Please do compare Vehicles on our Australian sites with similar spec’d vehicles in the US or Europe.
      Eg. Non Automotive – Australians would know one middle man a Mr Solomon Lew, he imports clothing / toys etc. He’s got a big push on now to lower the GST tax limit for private people importing goods from the current 1000.00 AUD. What he doesn’t understand is that the jig is up, Australians are flocking to overseas retailers when you can get min 30% to 50% off. Even if you payed GST 10% on the lot and Fedex’d it your still in front and tragic at the same time as we now now how ripped off by the local distributors we have been all along.
      Why don’t the bussinees people realise they have to trim their profits on distribution and provide a better retail experiance to fix it?

      So the Volts price – yes it’s a little “rich” but then you have to factor in the amazing technology, it’s imported fully optioned, spares to keep and our politicians not supporting green cars here at all here in Australia. other than some grants to the manufactures to build some hybrid models (not even plug in).
      They wan’t them to be built here in our tiny world market?
      The issue is that they are blowing so much green smoke with mirrors that practicly and very sadly auto manufactures without major subsides would pack up and go offshore. It’s just insane to force Western manufacturing to go to China etc. where enviromental standards and polution controls are lacking.

      Good news is Australians are an inventive lot with much passion – so I’m amazed at the design team at Holdens as they are able to do so much with so little by comparison.

      As to the Left and Right driving, look up wiki for history and have a laugh.
      Roman times and now 2012!
      I guess when we travel abroad and you pick up that rental with the first intesection scare, then you get used to it even judging the width of the car to the curb LOL!

      PS I do like your Turn Right proceed when clear at a Redlight in the US or Canada, be nice if we could introduce it in Australia ( Ie Turn left with caution on Red light)
      Oh Wait – maybe not … as too many are already texting here while they are pretenting to drive!
      -See some of them are already = ready for the self drive cars!

      Cheers,
      Martin

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Very Good Martin!!!

        i enjoyed the fact that you got excited with anticipation for your VOLT and put all the plackards on your garage walls!

        Im sure Google ( the firm’s motto is “Do NO Harm” but I think that REALLY means Do no harm to Google!) which is presenting itself as a Green Firm (e.g. they have enough solar cells to run the coffee maker in the break room, no kidding!), is really a firm perfoming nefarious activities. For instance, it just came out that when those google cars with 20 cameras all over the place filmed everyone’s street and house, they also picked up any WIFI or Cell Phone (what you guys call MOBILES?) information they could glean while taking all the pictures. No they are pushing their “self driving car”.

        I’m sure the very next thing we’ll be told is that “seeing the number of people dying in automobiles, its much too unsafe to allow you to drive yourself”. Then obviously the car will take you to where it wants to take you, which would not in emergencies be the same place as where you’d want to go.

        Just out of curiousity, what do you pay per kilowatt hour for you juice? In the states here its $.04 to $.20 with the average being about $.11.

        I was paying $.13 for quite a while because the polititicians ruined the electricity business in this state, so while still not as bad as California, our Governor’s father decreed all utilities must purchase competitive power for three times what it cost to make it themselves. So we had all kinds of natural gas (methane) powered plants be constructed thats sole job was to get the tripple price bonanza, and bankrupting the old private utilities since they didn’t charge as much as they had to pay out. For instance if I ran my Toaster (1 kw) for an hour years ago they got $.055 from me, and had to pay $.06 to the ‘competitive generator’, when they could have made it in the utility’s own coal-fired plant for $.02. So the more people used, the faster their bankrupcy.

        Of course, when our utility did go tits up, the competive generators complained they didn’t have anyone to sell their juice to, and lawsuits ensued. So British Owned National Grid (my utility here in Western New York, also the incompentent outfit running Long Island where people were pitch black for 4 weeks after Storm Sandy) was charging “stranded costs” – money paid to these competitive generators who are now substantially out of business but still getting $$$ to alleviate the “unfairness”. What a gobbledygook situation our polititicians have cuased, and now they are charging “Global Warming” greenhouse gas taxes (when there has been zero GW for the past 16 years). National Grid was caught overinflating the stranded costs, so temporarily I’m down to $.10 / kwh.

        1. Martin T says:

          Bill, very interesting, so the ulties mess is world wide.
          Last bill in AUD.
          Solar bill credit is $.60 per Kwh produced
          (Still locked it in at a good rate).

          Before our carbon tax per Kwh:
          Peak $0.228
          Off Peak $0.1434

          After carbon tax per Kwh:
          Peak $0.2699
          Off Peak $0.1697

          Yes we have the same dramas – electricty and distribution was state owned and perfectly maintained. Sold off to private companies, cut maintenance to save and now have to invest heavily including for peak periods. Our Ms Primister feels these companies are over investing – LOL! after years of neglect in an attempt to minimise the impact of the carbon tax though the use of smart meters. Its great my washing machine has a delay feature so I can do the washing at 3am and charge the car when it’s cheapest. I suspect old age pensioners will suffer as they will have to do with out or operate their a/c in the cheaper times only.
          Going to be an interesting life changing experiance for those doing it tough.
          in the mean time our carbon tax will help assist the move of our manufacturing to China where there a less controls and more polution!
          Oh – Wait wasn’t that the thing we were trying to reduce as we are on the same planet!
          Carbon tax would only work if it was world wide even playing feild and the money used to support green technologies – like the Volt, Solar, Wind, better house contruction, controls banning importaition of poor or wasteful inefficient appliances – these lists can go on – if politician REALLY wish to help and do something for the enviroment and our health.

          In the US I feel you guy’s will struggle more than us as the economy is a prinitng press at the moment hurting those doing the right thing “the savers”.
          Lets hope it turns around for all of us as the world is a very connected place in many ways these days.

          Cheers,
          Martin

  2. Martin T says:

    Just re-read my comments apologies for all the typos with the spelling and grammer,
    I’m two fingered typist!

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Hi Martin,

      So your day rate is almost 3 times what I pay, and your after midnight rate is more than 1 1/2 times what I pay? How would you compare that with your petrol cost.

      Our 87 octane (unfortunately, volt requires 91 octane) petrol or gasoline (not sure what you call it there) is a bit under $1 per 32 ounce quart. (I believe a 2 liters is 67.6 ounces). My volt and tesla roadster basically cost me 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of gasoline in the spring and fall. The electric heaters use up twice as much juice as the car itself, so there’s not much cost advantage in the wintertime.

      Incidentally, I could get time-of-day metering here, but you’d have to have very huge usage to benefit from it, and the usage would basically have to be all at night to see a slightly smaller bill. So for National Grid customers at least, none of us use it, unless those people stupid enough or unfortunate enough to have electric heat, since our natural gas (from company National Fuel – no relation) fluctuates but is currently the heat equivalent of $.03125 (3 1/8 cents) / kwh. Thats why I converted anything using heat (hot tub, and kitchen appliances, clothes dryer) to gas as the water heater and furnace already were.

      That said, apparently on other articles here on INSIDE EVS there was a statement that TEsla was going to make the MODEL S take a 3 phase charger. Easy to do externally of course. But that brings to mind what is a typical electric service in Australia for home use?

      Here it is totally single phase for homes:

      120 volts only (only in older city homes – very obsolete, usually only 30 amps).
      120/240 60 amps – obsolete but many homes still have this
      120/240 100 amps – minimum for new construction and most popular
      120/240 150 amp – new construction, also for homes with no natural gas lines.
      120/240 200, 300, 400 amps – electric heat, also very large mansions.

      Older neighborhoods overhead distribution, newer subdivisions (Semi) Underground.

      i have a rather large home with the original 1959 100 amp electric service.(which I’ve just refurbished). I have 2 electric cars and central airconditioning and sauna, but as mentioned everything else is Gas. So 100 is fine for me.

      1. Martin T says:

        Hi Bill,

        Here is a link our petrol prices today from out motor organisation Royal Automobile Club of Victoria RACV:
        http://www.racv.com.au/wps/wcm/connect/Internet/Primary/my+car/advice+_+information/fuel/petrol+prices

        My local Average price today for premium unleaded (91 Octane) is $1.534 (not that I needed any 🙂 So based on your conversions we are about 50% more expensive – you really do have cheap fuel.

        As you can see our prices fluctuate on a cycle – dictated by supermarkets that locally are running a scam (discount shopper dockets) some through their own on site petrol (gas) stations or in partnership with Shell, BP etc. so our market is as crooked as can be – with those shoppers not taking advantage – or filling up at the lowest cycle paying for those that do.
        Mind you have you seen the price of fuel in Europe – no wonder they are all driving 1L manual cars – we still got it good.!

        Standard is 240VAC / 50Hz and we did underground power to the pole at 80 Amps, However – during the reno of the garage – I have 40 Amps avail on a sub board they had to changed the main switch to a CB and it went back to 63Amps (I’m not worried as we don’t use all appliaces at once – but how silly is that!)
        Believe me most of new tradepeople are no longer the quality of the brilliant lot we had back 20 years ago if it helps fill the picture in…

        Optional 3 phase 415VAC is available at great extra cost for those who need it have industrial machinery etc. on property.

        Same here with the distribution our exact block is overhead on, suburb next door is under, it does look neater.

        I’m sorry I don’t know what new houses are rated at, we have central gas heating – natural gas piped up to each house – highly efficient
        I’ve got a solar hot water system with electric boost off peak at night, others might just have electric or may have a gas hot water system.
        We pay about $0.01616 per MJ on natural gas, that’s not too bad we think – cheap heating and cooking stove running.

        While in NA on holidays I’ve seen DIY renovations with mains electrical products and am simply shock at the crappy standard – like when Noah was a boy – wires joined with twist caps etc. eeek. I wouldn’t sleep at night.
        The only bad thing in Australia is the narrow architrave light switches crammed into the wooden trim (but at least the wires are screwed into their contacts) but the rest is pretty decent here by world standards even though we have our own plug / sockets etc. std’s

        I think a 3 phase faster charger for a Tesla here would be decent expence that would make people think twice here. Gees they struggling with the Volt with the standard charger at Max only draw 10amps max – basically sipping (We have 15/16 Amp min Power circuits usually x2, x1 for each side of house, more for larger houses -( Also NOTjoined in a loop like the UK who then require an appliance fuse in each appliance plug) if nothing major else is on -and yet they don’t worry when in Winter when they plug in 2 chinese fan heaters on the same circuit and are drawing nearly double that and wondering why there CB or fuse trips out – LOL!

        Must be fun with the Tesla – to go for blast – here like most things double your price and that’s what they will try to sell them for when they arrive i suspect!

        Cheers,
        Martin

  3. Jay Cole says:

    Random thing related to Australia, Nissan just marked the LEAF way down until March 31st, 2013. Starts at $46,990. They must have some considerable inventory on hand to clear out.

    1. Martin T says:

      Probably the fact it’s no where near as practical as the Volt, plus it got weird French / Japanese shape for Australians where as the Volt – A High majority really LOVE!

  4. Bill Howland says:

    Hi Martin:

    Its all very interesting your “take” on how we do things here. I followed most of what you said, but I need to confirm:
    1). SO you currently have a 63 A @ 240 volt single phase underground service drop to an overhead pole in the back yard?
    2). You are charged a fee to install a larger service?
    a). In the states, vast majority of private utilities allow you to go 200, 300, or 400 amps maximum, at no additional charge, other than doing wiring to the ‘point of demarcation’, which is the place where your wiring stops and theirs starts. The 200 , 300, or 400 amp limitation is usually the largest single-phase load the utility will allow (most of the time, 400 amps, but could be as low as 200 depending on which company you’re served by. You have to get your work usually done by a licensed electrician, and it must be inspected before the utility does their connections (again, their work is usually totally free of charge – exception would be underground areas in congested downtown areas where the utility insists on doing ALL work on public property, but 99.9% of the time its totally free). They may have dinky facilities until youve actually USED more juice, THEN they will upgrade theirs, but its still all free.

    Caps (Trade name “Wire-Nuts”) are quite fine in dry locations copper to copper. We had trouble in the 1960’s and 1970’s with small branch circuilt aluminum (I believe you guys call it aluminium) wiring where disreputable contractors built housing known to burn down. The manufacturers of house cable (non-metallic sheathed ) quietly took it off the market, the wiring is still legal but you cant find anyone who sells it. Most large indoor wiring is now aluminum and all power company outside wiring is aluminum. All our inside connections must be in either a metal box, or high melting temperature plastic box. Wood is not allowed. Outside, direct burial is ok if special splices are used.

    3). Occassionally apartment buildings with 40 or more units will have 3phase power to the building, but then only 2 legs to the individual apartment (so called ‘single-phase’ 120Y/208). The is actually a polyphase connection, but the apartment dweller couldn’t get any 3 phase out of it without using 2 transformers, so for all practical purposes it is 1 phase. Makes the stove cooker work slower, and cars charge 15% slower.

    My utility’s limitation on this type of service: 4000 amps outside of downtown network areas.

    Downtown Network Areas, 12000 amps.

    Lets see $AUD $.01616 MJ, is that Million Joules? lets see, 1 kwh is 3.6 million joules.
    1 joule = 1 watt-second, 1 watt-hour is 3600 joules, etc.
    I pay the gas equivalent of 3 1/8 cents for 1 kwh of heat, for 1 million joules I would pay $USD $.0087 or less than a penny for a million joules of gas heat. You pay 16 pennies? Thats very expensive Gas.

    1. Martin T says:

      Bill,
      1)Yes with the power – but it’s normaly from the pole to house / garage some vertical high point min. clearance these days.
      In our case we upgraded from overhead to underground.
      The power company did it at their expence from the overhead pole to our fence line (their pit) and from there it’s the owners expence to the house.

      2) Again it would at owners expence from the feed in point, I don’t know the utiliy charges here there woulld be expense I’d imagine to high Amp.
      Good to hear things have improved in the US, just the film I watched suprised me copared to how we do things here. Here the electricans have to be licienced and inpectors inpect their work, so technically here your ownly allowed to change light bulbs as a home owner an not touch mains wiring. The reno film i watched in N/A was like the people involved were wirining up christmas tree lights – hence my eeek with those wing nuts you call them. Please appreciate we see things from a different angle from what we are used to. As a local joke here with technically minded owners – you can always tell if someones done it themselves as the witing is overly neat and a too perfectly done LOL!
      3) Don’t know what limitations are here locally – it’s usually a case if the transformer on the pole (they are quite substantial here) being upgraded.

      Your gas by your calculations – gee you have really good it’s almost for free!
      Looks like alot of your essential supplies are way better priced then here.
      But no offence Bill, N/A nice for a holiday for us, but love Australia better even though its more expensive!
      just like probably would do the same for the USA.
      Cheers,

      Martin

  5. Bill Howland says:

    @Martin

    The problem with both our countries is that in both places they are taking away our freedom of speech and redress of grievances.

    Best of Luck to you in your Nice new Volt. I get about 800 km / 4 quart gallon due to the engine almost never running. This car should almost last forever before an overhaul is required.

    1. Martin T says:

      Cheers Bill – Absolutely agree, the media in both countries has problems with facts.
      It is really scary when you know happen by accident to know the real story and then you see it on TV – trimmed to give the impression of the opposite. Where has integrity gone.

      Your right on the Volt i’ve never owned a car where after nearly a week the brake pads are not bedded into the discs – oh thats right with regenrative braking I hardly put any wear on the brakes!

      West wishes with yours as well,
      Martin

  6. Colin says:

    Martin,

    Congratulations on your new Volt, I am awaiting delivery of mine.

    I wish to point out a contradiction in the tail or your story which offends me. You correctly stated that coal-fired power stations cannot be turned down. They just keep chugging along, churning out cheap electricity, so long as nobody has to pay for the carbon pollution. That’s what the carbon tax is for – the tax that I assume you include as a “false tax”.

    The complete solution requires buy-in from individuals, government and business. But business won’t do it without a short-term profit motive. It’s a darned pity there is no subsidy for electric cars, as there is in the US.

    People who travel only by public transport are doing more for the environment than you or I or anybody else who buys any car.

    Regards

    1. Martin T says:

      Hi Colin,

      Cheers on your purchase – you are going to love it along with that EV Smile!

      Agree however – I call it a false tax as it’s a big money go around with compensation – so I call it false as the issue is it achieves nothing other than pushing out manufacturing to other countries that have little or zero emmission controls for bussiness.

      Same with buy-in, but on this issue it has to be global otherwise it doesn’t work.
      Yes we should set an example – but how far do you go in Australia?

      Yes people who use Public transport are doing better than us, but for me it would be 6 times longer to get to work – in fact with our time-table I would probably walk there quicker LOL. Be good for the waist line though.

      it depends were you live, in certain Europeon cities owning a car would be slower than using public transport to most destination so in certain parts of the world I wouldn’t have one either – Guess everyone does the best they can.

      Cheers,
      Martin