The Holden Commodore has been a mainstay of General Motors dealerships in Australia and New Zealand since the 1970s. GM’s success with the Commodore led to variations on this reliable sedan around the world. Australian partnership EV Engineering took the Commodore in a new direction by converting several units into all-electric vehicles. This conversion project progressed last week with a 24-hour test by EV Engineering between Port Melbourne and Geelong. EV Engineering made history by traveling a record-breaking 1,172-mile path in 21 hours and 8 minutes.
A design team at EV Engineering swapped out the Commodore’s engine and automatic transmission for a powerful EV drive. A 30 kWh battery pack provided by SB LiMotive was paired with a 145 kW electric motor from UQM Technologies. Bosch and Samsung developed battery cells for the pack that could be removed or replaced easily. These components fit neatly in the space left by the engine while electronic controls replace the gasoline tank. EV Engineering also included a single-gear transmission that simplified the driving experience during the 24-hour trial.
The Society of Automotive Engineers Australasia provided oversight of this road trial, thus boosting the significance of EV Engineering’s achievements. A team from SAE Australasia equipped the vehicle with a GPS unit to track total distance. This device also ensured that a single vehicle was used throughout the trial though EV Engineering was allowed to substitute driving teams every 75.8 miles. SAE Australasia certified that the all-electric Commodore did not use another fuel source and traveled within the rules of the road. These criteria legitimize EV Engineering’s efforts to create an EV drive system that eliminates range anxiety for consumers around the world.
Performance metrics accumulated during the trial show the potential for EV Engineering’s approach to EV conversions. An estimated traveling distance of 99 miles per charge was touted prior to the trial. Driving teams covered 75.8 miles before stopping at battery switching stations with remaining battery power averaging around 20%. A total of 15 batteries were used during the trial and EV Engineering noted that a range between 75 and 93 miles was likely in real-world conditions. Drivers interested in recharging rather than swapping batteries could use standard outlets for overnight charges or an optional quick-charge feature.
EV Engineering was established by international partners including General Electric, Better Place, Bosch and Continental. The founding purpose of EV Engineering was to produce an EV concept that could function in the Australian market. A successful trial run for the retrofitted Holden Commodore allows participants to advance toward entry in the market. EV Engineering finished production on seven plug-in Holden Commodores in late July to demonstrate commercial viability. These vehicles could drive up to 27,000 miles each during an upcoming two-year test. Better Place produced a more modest version of the company’s Battery Switch Station in anticipation of a future rollout. The Green Car Innovation Fund created by the Australian government holds more than $3 million in reserve to subsidize early phases of the rollout.