Second-gen Vauxhall Ampera will be cheaper and more radically designed, says GM Europe boss

A second generation Vauxhall Ampera will go on sale in 2015, costing significantly less than the current model and featuring a more radical design.

The first generation car is on sale now, with deliveries due to begin next year. It costs £28,995 after the government’s £5000 grant. However, current estimates suggest that its battery pack accounts for around £7000 of that cost, and that improved technology will halve that price by 2015.

Read our first drive review of the Vauxhall Ampera

Further significant steps in reducing the cost is expected to come from economies of scale as customer demand picks up, and more localised production.

“We have an education job to do on the technology in the Vauxhall Ampera, but that will come in time,” said Opel CEO Nick Reilly.

“We hope that this first car will establish itself as a market leader, and we’ll be able to capitalise on that with a cheaper, more expressively designed second generation model.”

Reilly also revealed that the Ampera's powertrain is scalable to fit other models, prompting speculation that a whole range of Ampera models could be launched.

Insiders say the design of the first-gen Ampera is deliberately conservative as it had to be restyled from the Chevrolet Volt on which it is based in a relatively small amount of time following GM’s bankruptcy.

However, the next version of the car will take styling cues from the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer Concept shown at this year’s Geneva motor show, ensuring that it has a more familiar Vauxhall family look and an image that reflects its cutting edge technology.

Read about the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer Concept at the Geneva motor show

Vauxhall/Opel will also assess sales of the imminent first-gen Ampera before it decides whether to manufacture the car in Europe.

The first-gen Ampera will be imported from the US, and is described as “a non-profit car” according to Reilly, but he hopes it will establish Vauxhall/Opel’s leadership in range-extended vehicles, and give the firm an opportunity to capitalise with the new model. If so, it will build the car in Europe to drive costs down, with Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port on Merseyside plant in the running to win the contract.

Vauxhall and Opel have pre-sold more than 7000 of their Ampera range-extended cars – out of a 2012 allocation of 10,000 vehicles.

The Ampera, based on the Chevrolet Volt, uses a small capacity engine to generate electricity to power the car. It is available to order now for delivery next year.

The sales split is 75 per cent in favour of fleet customers. “It’s proving popular with companies, rental firms and government departments who are eager to tap into its green credentials without being limited on range,” said Vauxhall/Opel CEO Nick Reilly.

“It looks like we’ll get an allocation of 10,000 cars next year, but the demand is so strong that we are trying to get some more.”

Jim Holder

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