It's not everyday that a car manufacturer will make the comparison between the iPhone and a new car but that's exactly what Holden managed today as it demonstrated its first electric car, the Holden Volt.
Set to go on sale in Australia in November starting at a cool $59,990, the Holden Volt is a long range electric vehicle that can be recharged from a regular household power outlet. It's the first car of its kind to go on sale in Australia.
"Before the iPhone came out there was no such thing as apps, if there was they were very small, but apps are now an everyday part of our life," said Holden's director of electrical engineering, Paul Gibson. "The technology in this car, similar to the apps, is going to be around a long time so that's why we like to associate it with the iPhone," he said.
"The Volt was first shown to the public around the same time as the iPhone , yes it takes us longer to get a car out there but it's a lot more complex than some of these consumer devices."
Unlike hybrid cars like the popular Toyota Prius, the wheels of the Holden Volt are powered purely by an electric battery. The Lithium-ion battery provides traction while a petrol-based generator maintains power in that electric battery when it runs out of charge.
Holden says the Volt has a pure electric range of up to 87 kilometres before the generator kicks in, though the company does admit it is possible to extend that range slightly depending on your driving style. The 1.4-litre petrol engine will enable travel of over 600km before needing refuelling.
"We have two energy sources in the Volt, but they don't work together simultaneously so its not classified as a hybrid car," he said. "It's actually very similar to how a diesel train works."
Holden says the Volt should cost around $2.50 to fully charge, though the ultimate cost will depend on electricity rates. The car can be charged using a standard 10 amp Australian powerpoint and the supplied charger and should take between six to 10 hours to fully charge.
"The main thing about the Volt is that it's a no compromise electric car. Typically all your electric cars out there do 160km but as you get towards the end of the range you think, 'where do I plug it in', 'do I have a 15 amp charger, 'do I have a special charger', so you start to get range anxiety," explained Gibson.
"With the Volt you can drive it as an electric car and if you need to do anything extra with it, like drive down the coast, you can do that. The car can be used as a normal car, or as an electric car."
In addition to its electric drivetrain, Holden demonstrated a number of the Volt's other key features at a technology workshop in Sydney today.
The car has a heavy focus around infotainment and active safety inclusions. It comes standard with a Bose entertainment system with voice recognition, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, full GPS satellite navigation, DVD, MP3, USB and iPhone/iPod connectivity, a 7in colour touch screen interface and a 30GB hard drive.
The Volt also uses a second 7in touchscreen that replaces the traditional driver instrument panel, while the infotainment system uses capacitive, touch sensitive buttons in addition to the centre-mounted touchscreen.
Built-in safety technology includes a lane departure warning system that notifies the driver when they are moving outside a lane without indicating, and a forward collision alert that uses a windscreen mounted camera to warn at three preset distance settings. A reverse camera with marked guidance is a standard feature on the Volt, along with keyless entry and push button start capability.
Holden offers a three year or 100,000 kilometre warranty on the Volt and a further eight year or 160,000km transferrable warranty on the battery and electric drive system components. The company says the first four standard, scheduled log book services will cost a fixed price of $185.
A video detailing the Holden Volt's electric capabilities can be viewed below.