GM is planning more extended-range electric vehicles (E-REV) for Europe, including models positioned above and below the Ampera, according to Opel-Vauxhall boss Nick Reilly.
Each car will have its own distinctive styling, as hinted at by the Vauxhall Flextreme GTE concept unveiled at Geneva. The two cars will be based on the next-generation Corsa platform and the Insignia’s Epsilon platform, but the modifications required to accommodate the E-REV drivetrain more than justifies unique styling for each car, says Reilly. It will create two parallel ranges for GM Europe in the largest market segments.
Reilly also said that the next Ampera will have a battery pack designed to last significantly less than the 10 years of the current car’s, and that it will be configured for easy removal and replacement.
The current car’s battery is difficult to remove because of how it is protected from crash damage. But new construction methods have prompted a change of strategy, as has the realisation that the cost of a battery change on a 10-year-old car may not be economically viable given the car’s likely value.
GM also plans to offer buyers different batteries, with a range of powerpacks at different prices. The aim is to reduce the price of E-REV models; the large battery pack of the current Ampera will account for a high proportion of its price.
Most of the first batch of Amperas, built in the US and on sale in the middle of 2011, have already been sold to European governments and fleets.
The decision on where to build European Amperas will be made in a year’s time and will be determined, in part, on the level of incentives offered in the countries being considered. At the moment, Britain’s Ellesmere Port plant is well placed because today’s government is planning electric car incentives that would take £5000 off the list price of an Ampera.