Holden chairman and MD Mark Reuss has indicated that he'd like to see Chevrolet's upcoming Volt plug-in hybrid come to Australia in the near future, possibly wearing a roaring-lion badge.
Unfortunately for Reuss, the vice president of R&D at GM, Larry Burns, says the priority for now is to get the Volt ready for the US market by the projected 2010 launch date. However, he also said that GM's top brass were "keeping [their] options open with what we do with the Volt on a worldwide basis".
The Volt is much like Toyota's Prius in that it has both a petrol-powered motor (in the Volt's case, a 1.4-litre naturally-aspirated inline four) and an electric motor. Where the Volt differs from the Toyota is in its ability to charge its batteries from a household electrical outlet, making the Volt a plug-in hybrid.
The idea is that the electric motor does much of the work, with a full charge being enough to power the Volt for up to 65km. After that, the petrol motor kicks in to charge up the batteries and extend the range, if needs be. While a 65km range doesn't sound like much, it's much further than the length of most people's daily work commutes. The Volt is clearly aimed at those who regularly drive in heavy traffic or on short hops around town, while the ability to charge-up the car from a household power outlet means owners will spend significantly less on petrol.
Sure, it won't ever get anyone's pulse racing, but the Volt looks like a step in the right direction. Hopefully we'll see it come Down Under in the near future to help break Toyota's hold on the hybrid market and add some diversity to Australia's alternative fuel offerings.