The forthcoming Vauxhall Ampera will be replaced by a family of three extended-range electric vehicles within five years — and all three of them could potentially be made at General Motors’ Ellesmere Port factory in the UK.
GM Europe president Nick Reilly confirmed that the first-generation Volt/Ampera will be built in Detroit until 2015, when the second-generation version — which GM is already developing — will come on stream.
“At that point it will make business sense to ramp up volumes of the Volt and Ampera, and to have several production sites for the ‘EREV’ model family,” Reilly told Autocar. “We will need one of those factories to be in Europe, and I’m very keen for it to be Ellesmere Port.”
Reilly revealed that the 2015 Ampera family will consist of an Astra-size hatchback, a slightly larger four-door to replace the Ampera itself, and a five-seat crossover. The latter car will be similar to the ChevroletVolt MPV5 concept from this year’s Beijing motor show.
The cars are likely to be sold under an Opel/Vauxhall Ampera sub-brand, but they’ll cost considerably less than the first-generation Volt/Ampera, and have better electric range. “We’re anticipating a 50 per cent improvement in the cost of the electrical components in the EREV powertrain in time for the second-generation cars,” Reilly said.
While the Mk1 Ampera is likely to cost around £37,000 in the UK next year — or £32,000 with the government’s electric car incentive — the next-generation cars should come to market for “between £5000 and £8000 more than a like-for-like petrol-engined model,” according to Reilly.
If European government incentives for EVs survive until 2015, they could wipe out that cost penalty almost entirely — and for that reason, GM is anticipating much higher sales volumes for the cars, and the need for several worldwide production sites.