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Holden finds a Better Place

High Volt-age: Holden director Richard Marshall and Better Place executive Ben Keneally plug in an Australian-spec right-hand-drive Volt.

New fast-charging partner for Holden as Better Place wins Volt provider deal

10 Jul 2012

HOLDEN today announced it has linked up with Better Place to provide fast-chargers with renewable energy for its groundbreaking Volt range-extender electric car that will be launched in Australia in the fourth quarter of this year.

Although the Volt can be plugged into a normal domestic 10-amp home power outlet with the transformer that comes with the car, the 15-amp Better Place ‘Charge Spot’ unit will reduce recharge times from 10 hours to just four hours.

Better Place also provides government-certified ‘renewable energy certificates’ to put Volt owners’ minds at ease that they are not using ‘dirty’ brown coal electricity.

Interestingly, Holden chose Better Place – which has close ties to Renault-Nissan – over rival supplier ChargePoint, which only recently provided Holden with six on-site charging stations that use renewable power from Origin Energy.

Holden energy and environment director Richard Marshall said the deal with ChargePoint and Origin Energy was just a one-off arrangement.

“We just wanted to get some charge points in at Fishermans Bend, so we’re very happy with what we’ve done there, but for the launch of the car and the consumer world we wanted something more and Better Place offers us a better partnership,” he told GoAuto.

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“The Volt has some special capabilities with its extended-range running and the standard charging unit with the 10-amp plug will be satisfactory for a lot of customers, but we know from experience in the US that many customers, especially fleets, are looking for the benefits of a faster charge so they can maximise their EV miles and are also very keen on getting renewable power to support their driving.”

Mr Marshall said Holden had half a dozen potential service providers to choose from and chose Better Place because the company felt it was “the right commercial package for us and gives the best possible opportunity for our customers”.

He said Better Place was solely built around recharging EVs, provided a good service, matched GM’s level of innovation, provided renewable energy certificates to ensure sustainable power was supplied and had different charge packages to suit various customers.

Although Better Place will not reveal its pricing until closer to the Volt launch, Mr Marshall said that a recharge unit typically cost between $2000 and $3000, including the installation cost.

However, Better Place will also offer a mobile phone-style plan with no up-front cost and a set monthly service fee that includes power usage, among its ‘membership packages’ for Volt buyers.

With the range-extender petrol engine on board ready to charge the battery if required, the Volt eliminates the “range anxiety” associated with electric-only vehicles such as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and forthcoming EVs from Nissan and Renault, so Holden believes many private buyers will be content with the recharger provided with the car.

“Many customers will be happy with the provided charger hanging in the garage, but that typically takes 10 hours to fully charge the car,” said Mr Marshall.

“You can get by with just that, but some people will want to get a quicker charge and the unit from Better Place will charge the car in just under four hours, which is quite a big reduction.

“And fleets will want to maximise the EV range so they will want a charge unit at work and maximise the EV range, so they will plug it in all the time and get as much charge in the car as they can.

“While the Volt is not restricted in range compared to other standard electric vehicles, we do expect that drivers will prefer to drive on battery only wherever possible.”

A single charge at home will cost the consumer about $2.50 and provide a range of up to 87km.

As part of the deal with Holden, Better Place will install Charge Spots at the 49 dealerships Holden has appointed to sell and service the Volt in Australia.

Better Place head of marketing and strategy Ben Keneally told GoAuto a range of packages would be put to Volt buyers, but the all-inclusive package would amount to only “the cost of a cup of coffee a day”.

This would include the energy used, recharging at other Better Place charge stations, monitoring and maintaining the unit, and regular reports on usage, which is required to claim back the cost for work use or tax.

“The partnership between Better Place and Holden means Volt drivers can choose an all-inclusive service that delivers complete peace of mind and makes driving an electric car easy, convenient and reliable,” said Mr Keneally at today’s launch at Brighton Holden in Melbourne.

“We look after everything a Volt driver needs – including installing personal charging spots at home or work, delivering shorter charging times, and providing ongoing management, maintenance, and 24-hour customer care.

“The main thing I would want to emphasise is the difference of the Better Place approach – it’s about providing a service, not a piece of hardware to stick in your house.”

Better Place has installed almost 100 recharging stations in Australia to date, though most are not accessible by the public.

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