It would appear Australia is preparing to become another battleground for EV sales supremacy. General Motors is on the verge of launching it’s localized Volt – (appropriately branded a Holden – while Nissan has already announced the availability of the Leaf.
It’s no secret that cars tend to cost quite a lot in Australia and both the Volt and Leaf will boast fairly hefty price tags. Nissan has said its pure EV will start at $51,500 AUD ($52,525 U.S.), while the Volt, of which official MSRPs have yet to be released, is estimated to be around $60,000 ($61,140) or more.
Now while that might seem a significant difference compared with likes of the Leaf, or even the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (priced at $48,000 AUD); for Australian customers, the Volt’s onboard 1.4-liter extended range generator is likely to be a significant factor when it comes to purchase consideration, especially since outside major cities such as Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane, much of Australia is sparsely populated; many motorists often traveling sizeable distances to get from one place to another.
Furthermore, the notion of a carbon tax, which customers will pay so they can charge electric vehicles, adds to the notion that for a good many Australians, pure EVs aren’t likely to make a great deal of sense, despite Nissan brass stating there’s a market for cars like the Leaf.
Getting back to the Volt, the fact that it’s also being badged a Holden, the auto brand that for many has come to symbolize rugged, independent Australian motoring over the last 60 years (though Ford fans might beg to differ), might also help car’s cause.
What’s interesting about EVs in Australia is that so far unlike the U.S., there haven’t been any significant incentives to move them off dealer lots; no rebates or special discounts, so consumers will likely really have to want one to drive it off the lot.
Originally the Australian government had planned to introduce what it called “A Cleaner Car Rebate Scheme,” in 2011. However, following the disastrous floods in Brisbane and much of Queensland, allocated funds set aside for the scheme were instead diverted to aid in the clean up and rebuild and the CCRS was axed. So far, nothing has been introduced to replace it.
One Down Under news source recently reported that the Volt’s range extending gas generator “provides the flexibility we car-wedded Australian’s like. Even the Nullarbor [plain] would be doable,” said the Western Australian’s Stephen Williams.
“If you instead opted for a Leaf or an I-MiEV, you might need to own an additional vehicle,” Williams said. “That decision would have cost, parking space and green penalties. So you could say the Volt’s two cars in one.”