General Motors and SPX Service Solutions (the plug-in hybrid’s exclusive retailer) will soon offer an affordable 240V home charging unit for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt electric car that will go on sale starting December, 2010 at a starting price of $33,500 (including a $7500 U.S. federal tax credit). Although still miles behind industrial-grade charging stations that offer at least twice as much of charging power, the new charging unit is also a lot less expensive and, with its ability to slash standard charging time by approximately 60 percent, clearly has good potential in simplifying life of an average PHEV owner.
Available at a base price of $490 “before installation,” the unit will shorten the charging time of the Volt’s 16 kW*h lithium-ion battery pack from ten to much less frustrating four hours when compared to the standard 120V charge cord that simply plugs into an outlet in your garage or basement. Basically, this means that now your PHEV car will take not much longer than your smartphone to get going again.
Perhaps, for a normal household where you have all night to charge the car, this sort of electric ‘turbocharger’ won’t make a huge difference. However, for a small company that is eager to attract green-minded customers with an extra freebie, a couple of SPX units may be a nice choice.
Or you can install one at your parents’ house to get you EV fully recharged while paying them their weekly visit. I mean, possibilities are endless if you don’t mind the quote.
SPX Service Solution covers the unit with a three-year warranty. This is the good news.
The bad news is that, according to GM’s press release, the cost of the charging unit will rise four times to almost $2000 if you add a cost of an on-site survey, securing all necessary permits and the installation (around $1475.)
It still doesn’t sound too frightening compared with the Volt’s starting price of more than $33k, yet, living in Europe, I wonder how much a similar kit for the upcoming Opel Ampera EV that also uses GM’s Voltec technology will cost given that the labor is generally more expensive and customs duties are generally higher.
Perhaps, the main thing that worries me here is that the device is probably not compatible with other electric cars currently available on the market.
While it makes the Volt more competitive against other EVs and PHEVs, it clearly doesn’t help the whole idea of an affordable and practical electric vehicle to become more widespread. Even now, when the price of oil again going over $80 USD per barrel and the costs of fossil fuels again going through the roof, with all their incompatible standards, still woefully limited mileage and confusing mixes of technology, an EV still remains to be an enthusiast’s choice, and the way car manufacturers promote their own standards doesn’t contribute much to make their futuristic products more desirable for an average Joe who still prefers a good big SUV or a Ford F150 to a relatively tiny EV-powered hatchback.
Photos: General Motors, SPX