General Motors has committed to building right-hand-drive versions of its 176mpg Ampera electric car in an announcement made today at the Geneva motor show.
Despite the uncertainty over GM’s future relationship with its continental Opel/Vauxhall outpost, GM Europe boss Carl-Peter Forster confirmed the revolutionary petrol-electric four-seater for production in 2011, “with a Vauxhall variant in the UK to follow soon after”.
Pricing will be equivalent to top-end Insignia models, suggesting a figure of around £24,000. That will price the Ampera at a £6k premium over a Toyota Prius and nearly £10k over the new Honda Insight.
Vauxhall’s sales prediction is conservative for the early years, with numbers in the “thousands rather than tens of thousands”, according to a spokesman.
But the green Vauxhall will offer vastly lower fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions than the Japanese hybrids. Early EU economy tests indicate that the Ampera will return 176mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 40g/km.
The production site for the Astra-based Ampera is still to be decided, although three of the European factories that currently build the Astra are in the running: Ellesmere Port in the UK, Bochum in Germany and Glawice in Poland.
“A lot depends on whether any governments like the Ampera’s green technology and come forward with incentives,” said a GM spokesman.
Until a European plant is agreed, the Ampera will be supplied from the same plant in the US that will build its sister car, the Chevrolet Volt.
Vauxhall has lobbied the British government, basing its ideas on tax credits that could offset investment costs at Ellesmere Port. The idea is understood to have gone down well, but the changing financial situation is likely to affect that thinking.
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