Chevrolet Planning Volt for Thai Market in 2011
This is the first time I get to write about the new Chevrolet plug-in hybrid, as there is finally a Thai connection to the story.
According to the source, GM could bring the Chevrolet Volt to Thailand as early as 2011. The decision to bring the new car to Thailand is not all that surprising, and could eventually pave the way for local assembly in Thailand.
What is this Volt thing?
Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, it's unlikely that you haven't already heard about the Chevrolet Volt. If you simply google the word "volt" you'll get some indication about how important the Volt has become.
GM finally saw potential in the hybrid car, and decided to make a real one. The Volt is similar to the Toyota Prius in many ways, with the key difference being that the Volt can be plugged in, in order to charge the batteries to extend the time you can run before you need the engine to start up.
In the Volt the engine works to charge the batteries and provide power to the electric motor. That is the function of the engine! The Volt platform is designed to allow for different power units to be used in place of the ICE (internal combustion engine), including Hydrogen Fuel Cell.
The Volt has been making headlines for a few years now, and most of this has been due to the incredibly short development time for the car.
GM have high hopes for the Volt, and believe that it is the way forward. Chevrolet is considered to be GM's mass market brand, and the decision to place that particular marque on the Volt was an early indicator that this was going to be a Prius beater, at least on price.
So what about the Volt in Thailand?
Well, here is where things get a bit frustrating.
Toyota will build the Camry Hybrid here in Thailand as early as next year. This will be the first locally assembled Hybrid car, and although all the electronics and battery technology will simply be bolted into the car here, it should still allow Toyota to bring the car to market at a reasonable price-point.
The Volt will be imported initially, and according to the source, this will result in a price tag of around THB 3,000,000!
What this means is that the only folks that will be buying it initially will be the rich, and it is doubtful that too many will choose a small hybrid in place of a Merc E-Class, or a BMW 5-Series.
Until Chevrolet produces the Volt locally in Thailand it is going to be nothing more than a "look at what we can make" exercise, to strengthen the brand image here. Of course all that could change if the Thai government decided to come up with favourable Tax incentives for hybrid cars, but given the focus on the ethanol strategy at present, that seems unlikely.
Related : A look to the future - Chevrolet Volt