Only in America. Most countries aim to celebrate their accomplishments. Only here would we develop a revolutionary product and then turn it into an object of partisan derision. And that is exactly what has happened with the Chevrolet Volt. Ridiculous. The whole situation is subject to a lot of eye-rolling by most in the automotive industry. The Volt has nothing to do with the Obama Administration, unlike those would make it so. But, we digress.
In Europe, the Volt is sold as the Opel Ampera and it begun deliveries just recently. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation into the Volt’s battery caused a delay in the Ampera’s on-sale date. Earlier this month, the car was announced as the 2012 European Car of the Year. According to Plug In Cars, orders have reached 7,000 units, putting the Ampera on track to hit its 10,000 unit sales goal by the end of the year.
The Ampera has a few changes versus the Volt that we think improve its appearance. That includes a redesigned front fascia with Opel’s signature swoosh design. In the interior, the Ampera has a two-tone color scheme and piano black plastic center stack that gives off a very upscale appearance. More substantive is a switch that enables the driver to run the gas engine exclusively. At first glance it might not seem to be an important distinction, but it is. Instead of running out the battery quickly on the highway, an Ampera driver can run on gasoline and switch to electric around town. This is not only far better for fuel consumption, but it is also a way to avoid the steep penalties drivers can incur traveling at certain times of the day in high-trafficked areas.
Enno Fuchs, Opel e-mobility director, says that “We are extremely pleased with the continuing demand for our Ampera…this news shows us that our sales target of 10,000 units for 2012 is well within reach.” General Motors’ five-week shutdown of Volt/Ampera production could delay some of these deliveries though Opel says the Ampera is attracting buyers from premium brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. You think we have it bad with our gas prices? In Europe, gas price averages are often double or more what we pay. Ouch. The Ampera’s sales mean the car could sell more examples in Europe than the United States. Oh the irony.