When you look at a Holden Commodore, you're not likely to see a "green" car staring back at you. (That is, assuming you're in Australia where the Commodore is sold. Or in the UK where you can get a Vauxhall VXR8. Or here in the US where it's rebadged as a Chevy SS or before that as a Pontiac G8 or GTO.) It is, in many cases after all, a big, rear-drive V8 muscle sedan. Not, in other words, known for its frugal sipping of fuel. But that didn't have to be the case.

According to our VB-guzzling compatriots from Down Under, a joint venture was on the verge of bringing an electric version of the Commodore to market. That joint venture was called EV Engineering, and it was the same outfit that built the (unofficial) record-setting Commodore that drove on electric power alone for a full 24 hours, covering 1,172 miles in the process. With development all but complete, EV Engineering was all ready to bring its electric Commodore to market, until all its constituents started dropping out.

First Futuris dropped out, then Better Place went under, GE Finance pulled its backing and GM turned Holden into an importer. After that Bosch and Air International dropped out, leaving just one constituent to the joint venture. The sole remaining partner, Axiflux is on the lookout for potential partners for the electric vehicle technology on which it collaborated, but given the state of the Australian automobile industry these days, it could be facing an uphill battle – up Ayers Rock, no less – to capitalize on the technology it's got.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good greif, this article has generated so much disinformation and crank conspiracy theories ! Time to correct some misunderstandings. 1) ' Holden' did not ''collapse" ! Since it's inception in 1947, the Holden brand has always been a completely owned subsidiary of General Motors. 2) The EV project was the creation of an ill-conceived project project funded by the Austrian Labour government and a former labour politician Evan Thornley of Better Place. 3) Both the project itself and its business model were always doomed to failure, as even the most ardent EV enthusiast could explain. The Commodore is a large, heavy, four door sedan, designed to function with a powerful ICE power-train, attempting to adapt such a vehicle to be an EV is simply impractical. 4) Australia already had an Australian owned, practical EV in production, which received no support and sadly attracted few sales or market interest. 5) EV Engineering, is typical of the number of self-deluded hopeful companies that attracted support during the height of the "green boom" , largely created by unsupervised tax-payer funding, overly optimistic expectations and scams like Better Place. The myth continues, but in reality this idiotic project was always a fantasy, and certainly never "ready for production". The loss of the "Australian" car industry, ("Australian" means American or Japanese vehicles produced locally with no Australian shareholding") has nothing to do with these sort of fantasy products.
      Boost Retard
      • 1 Year Ago
      The GTO was a Monaro, not a Commodore.
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      I thought we've learned that lesson a dozen times. A conversion EV has huge limitations.
        evan_kay
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Explain. But before you do, do your research.
          Bernard
          • 1 Year Ago
          @evan_kay
          For one, the best place to put the batteries in an EV is in the floor (in fact, most RC toys do exactly that). Unfortunately most if not all ICE platforms do not have room in the floor for that. Then there is the fact that EV's don't need most of the parts that ICE cars do. So mostly weight distribution and additional weight for unnecessary parts/spaces for parts will be the biggest downside to a converted vehicle.
          Bernard
          • 1 Year Ago
          @evan_kay
          Oh, and battery capacity as there will be less room for the batteries.
          BipDBo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @evan_kay
          Bernard, Since they were using Better Place, they probably were using an in floor battery. But arguably, that's not the best battery design. I would argue, that space permitting, GM's T shaped battery is better, and that's why both the Volt and the EV1 were designed as such. In this arrangement, the battery is better protected. A floor battery also raises the occupants, and therefore the either causes designers to raise the roof, and therefore aerodynamic face area, or to compromise on head clearance. T batteries are more compact so they make liquid cooling layout more efficient. Passive air cooling like on the Leaf is not possible with the T battery, but that has been shown to have serious limitations. One major drawback of the T battery is that is only allows for 2 rear seats instead of 3. Another drawback is that it has limited volume, so it is insufficient for Tesla S levels of capacity. The T battery arrangement, is however every easy to integrate into a conversion. Even a RWD car can use it by placing the battery where the driveshaft normally goes, and below the rear seats, and placing the motor behind the axle.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @evan_kay
          @ BipDbo, "Since they were using Better Place", ER, not wishing to be pedantic, but there was no "Better Place" to use ! Better Place Australia was a fantasy with absolutely no substance, nor even the likelihood of substance. .
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        It is a tough call. A pure EV designed from the ground up will obviously be much better. But the ability to share many parts with a large volume gas-powered sibling also has great economic advantages. So perhaps a chassis designed with both in mind might be best. Perhaps VW has pulled this off . . . time will tell.
      SpikedLemon
      • 1 Year Ago
      Is this hand-grenades or a game of horse shoes? Almost counts for nada.
      Kale Golden
      • 1 Year Ago
      Fact: Plants need CO2 to survive Fact: My GTO makes lots of CO2 Science: Therefore my car is very environmentally friendly. You're welcome greenpeace.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Australia is riding a material export bubble. They are mining and exporting lots of raw materials to China and making a lot of money from it. So much that their real estate market is high, their labor market is tight, and their currency has appreciated. While that sounds very good, it also has a down side. It makes them uncompetitive in manufacturing. Several automakers have closed down operations down under. At some point Australia might find itself in trouble if China finally decides that burning so much coal is not a good idea.
        Brodz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        And once everything shuts down... we aren't going to have anything under our control when the mining boom goes bust. The Government could do something... they choose not to though.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Brodz
          @ Brodz It's sad that GM-H, Ford and Toyota, have finally decided to cease producing a locally manufactured model in Australia. It's especially sad for those who work in that industry. But, no one can turn back the clock to the 1950' and 60's, back to the golden days of isolationist protectionism. In reality, the Australian car industry only existed, due to increasingly large taxpayer subsidies. In a nation of only 23 million people, with high labour costs, and low production runs, complex capital intensive manufacturing simply can't compete. The Australian car industry was at the best marginal, and its fate was not helped by six years of chaotic and profligate economic mismanagement by the previous Labour-green government. Like you, I'm sad to see the end of an era, but before getting too sentimental about the Australian car workers, perhaps you should consider that on the day Ford announced it would close its Broadmeadows manufacturing facility, less than 5% vehicles in the employee car park were Ford Falcons ! In contrast, 9O% of the BMW workers car-park in Bavaria, is BMW !
      Brodz
      • 1 Year Ago
      Americans don't realise sometimes how lucky they are to have a thriving car industry. Ours is dead.
        mikemaj82
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Brodz
        Yes, a thriving car industry with 2 million recalls a day.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sad.
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