GM really needs the Chevy Volt/Opel Ampera to be well received. The problem is that the technology for the car doesn’t even exist yet, unless of course GM have made huge strides they’re about to reveal when the car gets fully unveiled at Geneva ’09 tomorrow.
But it’s not a proper reveal, in the sense that the Ampera will be ready to sell. It’s a ‘Production Trim’ car, meaning it looks right, but under the skin is not ready to go – by any means.
But ahead of that unveil, Opel has released an official image of their version of the Chevy Volt – the Opel Ampera. I’ve got to say, it’s a damn site better looking than the Chevy Volt. True, it’s just a different skin, but this looks much cooler. The differences aren’t huge (new nose, new wheels etc) but the overall impression is of a much more contemporary car. More stylish hot-hatch than boring eco-car. Perhaps GM should revisit the Chevy Volt before it goes on sale?
The Ampera is designed to run on electric power only for short trips of up to 40 miles (GM claim that the average daily drive in Europe is less than 30 miles – so it’s a sensible range), swithching to a small engine that generates electricity for longer trips of up to 500 miles. GM claim charge time is under 3 hours.
But with all GM’s problems, and the likelihood that Opel (and Vauxhall, for that matter) will have to go it alone, it will be interesting to see how things work out. No doubt that if the Volt/Ampera proves a success (but it’s still 2 years away from a launch) there will be lots of collaboration between the old GM in Europe and GM in the States. But in terms of visual appeal, GM in the US had better get their act together and address the styling of the Volt, or they’ll find US buyers opting for an imported Opel Ampera instead of the domestic Chevy Volt.