Just days after Ford Australia announced significant cutbacks because the modern “fuel-efficient” version of its Ford Falcon had poor sales, the full-electric version of its old rival, the Holden Commodore, has announced another key milestone.
EV Engineering, which received a government grant to see if a full electric, battery switchable Holden Commodore could be built in Australia, says it has proved that this can be done with its first batch of seven such vehicles.
“We have demonstrated that it is possible to engineer and build a fully electric version of one of Australia’s most popular large passenger cars, with no compromises on safety, comfort or performance,” EV Engineering CEO Ian McCleave said in a statement.
But can it be sold?
EV Engineering is about to find out. The next stage of the development is to place them in car fleets where they can be assessed on performance, reliability and customer experience. Each car will drive about 30,000-50,000km over the next two years.
McCleave says that so far the cars had passed expectations and had a good response from people. “This gives us confidence that in the next phase we will achieve our second project goal of demonstrating the customer attractiveness of a large electric car,” he said.
“We have also spoken with the majority of other large Australian fleets and they have a strong appetite to trial a large electric car as part of their vehicle mix.
“This shows that there is clear customer demand for the kind of car we’ve developed, which is great news for an industry that is facing a swing away from large petrol vehicles.”
The seven completed cars include two Calais wagons and five Calais sedans. Each car has a range of approximately 160km before recharging is required, and deliver a range of between 120-150km in real-world driving, EV said.
EV Engineering is a consortium of Air International, Futuris, Bosch, along with GE and aspiring EV network operator Better Place. Better Place hopes to convince car manufacturers to convert existing models of cars to vehicles with switchable batteries, possibly under leasing arrangements financed by GE.
Better Place argues that battery financing for large vehicles with heavy mileage is already cost competitive with internal combustion engines using fuel, and this “arbitrage” opportunity will grow as fuel costs rise and battery prices, and financing and infrastructure costs fall.