GM to offer 10,000 units of its Ampera plug-in hybrid in Europe in 2012

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 4, 2011

General Motors Co. will offer 10,000 units of its Ampera plug-in hybrid in Europe in 2012, according to GM Europe President Nick Reilly. He said that the Ampera, a sister model to the Chevrolet Volt, is assembled together with the Volt in the Hamtramck facility near Detroit. Opel will get 6,000 units from GM's allocation of 60,000 units for next year.

GM's Vauxhall brand in the UK will sell the remaining 4,000 cars. The Ampera makes use of the Volt's technology but its styling is quite different. For example, it features the bold-looking grille of Opel.

Premium content in the Ampera include Bose speakers and touchscreen monitors. GM is preparing for the launch of the Ampera and Volt this November in Europe. GM is planning to sell as many as 2,000 units of the Volt each year in the region. Opel has given the Ampera a price tag of 42,900 euros, higher than the Volt’s price of $39,995 (28,125 euros) in the U.S.

At the 2010 Paris auto show, Nick Reilly said that the Ampera is targeted at the business fleet market and local government agencies. These are areas where Opel is strong. He added that the Volt would be aimed at retail customers in Europe.

Sales of the Volt have already begun in the U.S. Electricity powers the Ampera at all times -- which means that it has absolutely zero emissions. For the first 40km to 80 km (25 to 50 miles), the drivetrain is powered by the electricity stored in the 16-kilowatt hour lithium ion battery pack. But for longer journeys, the battery charge is sustained by a gasoline-fueled engine/generator. This extends the driving range to 500km (300 miles).

Opel has unveiled its new Ampera extended-range electric vehicle to the global public at the 79th Geneva Motor Show, led by General Motors Europe president, Carl-Peter Forster. Designed to accommodate four occupants, the new Ampera is a product of Opel's new design language that fuses sculptural artistry and German precision.

It features a number of styling cues from Opel’s Flextreme and GTC Concept cars. Carl-Peter Forster, who announced that the production of the new Ampera will commence in late 2011, quipped that the vehicle demonstrates GM's leadership in the auto electrification. He described Ampera’s innovative Voltec electric propulsion system as a game-changing technology that the auto industry needs to be able to respond to energy and environmental challenges.

He added that the unveiling of the Opel Ampera is a very fitting way to celebrate Opel's 110 years of innovation in the auto industry. At all times and at various speeds, the Ampera uses electricity to power its wheels. The EV could run using electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery for up to 60 km (MVEG), without emitting any carbon dioxide. Once the battery’s energy has been drained, an engine-generator kicks in smoothly to provide the needed electricity, thereby extending the Ampera's range to over 500 km. This effectively eliminates the so-called range anxiety that drivers of conventional battery EVs experience.

It is rather easy to recharge the battery of the new Opel Ampera. Users could just plug the EV into any household 230v outlet. Hans Demant, GME's vice president of engineering, considers an advanced lithium-ion battery system as the key to make the Opel Ampera more attractive to consumers. He remarked that that GME’s engineers at its research and development center in Mainz-Kastel, Germany have been testing the battery all year long to ensure that it meets the expectations of customers.

Currently, GM Europe is assessing the requirements of a recharging infrastructure for plug-in EVs with energy operators like Iberdrola of Spain. GME is planning to offer the Opel Ampera with right-hand drive in the United Kingdom through its Vauxhall brand.

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