Opel Ampera Release Held Back


The Opel Ampera, the European version of the much ballyhooed Chevrolet Volt, would remain in the continent’s showrooms until the current investigation by US federal investigators have been resolved. The main issue would be the battery fires that have resulted during crash tests.

According to the Director of Product Development Communications of Opel, Mr. Andrew Marshall, “We are in the position that we can wait a little while before we deliver customer vehicles while we come up with a solution to the battery situation.”

Several hundred Amperas have been built Stateside, particularly in Hamtramck, Michigan. These cars together with the Volt started to arrive late last month in dealerships in many European countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium. Many more Amperas are in transit and it is hoped that Opel would be able to sell 10,000 Amperas in the next year.

Marshall noted that many prospective customers were on a waiting list and said, “People are impatient to get in them. There have been no refunds requested, as far as I know.”

Earlier this month, General Motors offered to buy back the Volts it had sold to American owners if there were many concerns regarding fire risk. This issue though was premature in the case of the Ampera, according to Marshall, but the company was prepared to come to a solution with concerned customers who had ordered the cars.

He further added, “We’re aware of what GM is doing in the States, but we are not aware of anyone coming to us about safety issues. But if they do and they are insistent about them, we would talk to them about a resolution. We’re waiting for a signal from General Motors but it’s all obviously connected with the analysis going on at NHTSA.”

The decision to wait for the investigation results from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was taken by the CEO of Opel/Vauxhall, Mr. Karl-Friedrich Stracke. There have been three separate product introductions for the Ampera. The first was supposed to be ongoing had it not been any delays in the delivery. The price was pegged for Euro 42,900 for the plug-in hybrid or nearly $56,000.

Despite the different styling of the Volt and the Ampera, there are many similarities between the two. First would be the lithium-ion battery pack. Then, there is a gasoline-fired engine generator that turns on after the electric motor’s battery has been depleted. The Ampera has stylized alloy wheels as standards with side skirts rather than black plastic. Aside from these differences, the power train and the battery pack are practically identical. The only exception would be four drive modes for the Ampera, compared to just three with the Volt.