General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Volt may not be making waves in the United States, but the plug-in hybrid model is doing better in Europe under the Opel brand. According to the Detroit News, GM has already received around 7,000 orders for the Opel Ampera, raising expectations at the US carmaker that it could sell as many as 10,000 units of Europe’s Volt by the end of 2012.
Seen as the main reason for Ampera’s growing popularity in Europe is that the gasoline price in the continent is nearly twice more expensive than in the US, thus attracting more fleet and retail customers who value fuel efficiency.
Fleet or commercial customers currently account for around 60 percent of Ampera sales. The Ampera was recently awarded as the 2012 European Car of the Year, becoming the first car developed in the US to win the distinction. GM rolled out the Ampera in Europe – and released the Volt in selected countries – in February, and has since received much support from the fuel-concerned customers.
GM is set to roll out the Vauxhall Ampera in the United Kingdom by May. Despite Ampera’s success, some analysts are still having second thoughts about the brand’s sales sustainability in Europe where consumers are more reliant on diesel engines for fuel efficiency.
Some analyst are more concerned about Ampera’s price, tagged at EUR41,900, which is almost as expensive as a luxury car, especially that some European countries do not offer tax credits for environment-friendly vehicles.