General Motors’ European arm Opel has announced that the Chevrolet Bolt will be coming to the continent in the shape of the all-electric Ampera-e. The compact family electric vehicle (EV) marks the beginning of significant change for the company with 29 new models due between now and 2020.
Although Vauxhall and Opel have very close ties, there is no word yet as to whether the Ampera-e will be made in right-hand drive form for UK car buyers. However, at the very least, with the Ampera-e confirmed for Europe it will be far easier for fans to import one into the UK should they wish – while it is now more likely than ever that a full right-hand drive model will be made for British drivers.
Details are yet to be announced but the technical specifications will be almost identical to those of the Chevrolet Bolt in America. That will see a range of around 200 miles, Type 1 connection, 9 hours charging time from a three-pin plug and 60 kWh battery powering an electric motor with more than 200hp available.
Prices are expected to be around the £20,000 mark, which will undercut the Nissan Leaf in terms of price, but offer a longer range. With VW and BMW also working on longer range EVs, along with Nissan and Renault’s continuous battery development, there is likely to be a wealth of affordable EV options available to buyers within the next few years.
The Ampera-e will feature GM’s On-Star technology system that integrates entertainment and navigation technologies, while also offering connected car services and a WiFi hotspot for passengers. The five-door, five-seat Opel aims to be the next step forward in affordable EVs in Europe.
Although, as mentioned, there are currently no plans to bring the Ampera-e to Britain, with the model confirmed for production by Opel, the possibility is at least half a step closer. The UK has a significant role in Europe’s EV market and, although GM has never done particularly well on these shores before – outside of the Vauxhall brand – it could well re-enter Britain as a green manufacturer. With the Ampera-e and the (currently US-only) Volt, Chevrolet has two acclaimed plug-in vehicles with a market that is consistently growing in this country. Alternatively – and the more likely scenario – the Ampera-e would be badged as a Vauxhall, giving the company a competitor in the plug-in family car market. Ford has already announced its intention to revive the Focus Electric, while the Leaf and VW’s e-Golf would also provide direct competition.
The confirmation that the Ampera-e is being made by Opel came today (Thursday 11th February) at the CAR Symposium in Bochum, Germany. GM Chairman & CEO Mary Barra said: “GM and Opel have always been convinced that electric cars will play a defining role in future mobility. The game-changing technology of the Ampera-e is a significant step toward realizing that vision. Our new battery electric car is also another boost for Opel’s reputation for making innovative engineering widely accessible.”
“Electric vehicles have the potential to make a significant contribution to climate protection and emissions reduction”, said Opel group CEO Dr Karl-Thomas Neumann. “The new Ampera-e will open the road to electric mobility by breaking down the barriers of high price and short driving range.”
Further details will be announced at a later date, with the Ampera-e expected to go on show at the Geneva Motor Show in a few weeks time.